New play area scores highly

Bill Beaumont from the Wooden Spoon Charity with the new play area at Aspired Futures at Kensington Lodge.  He is pictured with John North, 10 and Amanda North, 12.

Bill Beaumont from the Wooden Spoon Charity with the new play area at Aspired Futures at Kensington Lodge. He is pictured with John North, 10 and Amanda North, 12.

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These youngsters are celebrating a cash boost which has helped create a magical garden for them at their special haven.

Children and teens at Kensington Lodge, on Whitegate Road, Blackpool, were joined by Fylde retired rugby star Bill Beaumont to officially open their new outdoor play area and garden.

Thanks to a £49,500 donation from the Wooden Spoon charity, along with help from The Queensdean Association and Blackpool Sunrise and Palatine Rotary Clubs, the youngsters now have a safe, exciting, modern area to play outside.

Kensington Lodge, run by Aspired Futures – part of Aspirational Leisure Activities (ALA) community interest company – provides youngsters with somewhere to go to get away from problems like addiction, mental health issues and domestic violence, which they may experience and witness in their family home.

The ‘haven’ is totally dependent on the help of many local organisations for its survival and there are no paid full-time staff at ALA.

Carmen Conquer, who set up Aspired Futures and has 20 years’ experience working with vulnerable young people, said: “The garden and outdoor play area are wonderful.

“We are so grateful Wooden Spoon looked favourably on our request.

“It’s so beneficial for us to have this area for the children as it gives them somewhere to go outdoors.

“It can be so difficult these days to let children play outside as safety is such a big issue. But here they have a safe area they can enjoy.

“A lot of the children come to us after school, so they have been inside all day.

“The children came up with some of the ideas for the play area themselves, which were translated into the bespoke wooden play equipment, which was created by a local carpenter and is beautiful.

“We also have the Hobbit House too, which is fantastic.

“The work has been done in stages, but now it’s all finished and complete.

“The Queensdean Association helped us by providing the cash to tidy up and finish the gardens once the equipment had been installed. And Rotary Club helped us too.

“We are very grateful to all the organisations for their help, which made this possible.

“It was wonderful to have Bill Beaumont come along, with his connections with Wooden Spoon. He was lovely and was very impressed by the garden and the work being done at Kensington.

“He was very good with the kids and it was great to have him there.

“He said it made him feel very humble. He commented about how everybody complains now and again about the little things, especially aches and pains as they get older and so on, but he said seeing the work done by all the volunteers put things into perspective.”