How a Blackpool park is improving its playground thanks to cash from last year's £10k Swallowdale Trust giveaway

Once again The Gazette has teamed up with the ever-generous Swallowdale Trust in its Fylde coast wide search for a worthy winner of its annual £10,000 prize.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 3:59 pm
Pete Smith, Michelle Backhouse and coun Paul Galley celebrate their Swallowdale win

Every year the Swallowdale Trust hands out cash to schools, community groups, sports clubs, charities and societies playing their part to improve the lives of young people in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.

People are invited to write in for a share of the £10k.

Trust chairman Nigel Law said: "This year is no different from any year as we receive applications from children's sponsors, which can mean provision of beds and bedding, clothes for young people going to interviews, musical instruments, anything that anybody under the age of 25 needs as long as they qualify.

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"The number of applications for our giveaway hasn't really increased at all, in fact during the pandemic it has fallen because a lot of people weren't meeting face to face. It's only just not starting to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

"This charity has been going well over 100 years and we are needed now more and more, because the state is providing less and less."

Last year, the Friends of East Pines Park won £4,000 of the coveted prize, which they are putting to good use decorating the children's playground area of the park.

Michelle Backhouse, chairman of the friends group, said: "On the tarmac, we've agreed on a snakes and ladders design and a world map, and then a map of the solar system.

"Things have been hard because of Covid-19; (the builders) haven't been able to come out to meet us since they stopped the 'rule of six'. We can't have face to face meetings at the moment within the friends group."

Now that lockdown restrictions are expected to be lifted within the next few months, Michelle said it is hoped that the new playground features will be completed by summertime.

"We have done a lot of work on the playground over the years, and our only money comes from fund-raising, so previously we have only been able to do a little bit at a time. The money from Swallowdale means we are able to get a fair bit done all at once," she said.

"We were keen to give it an educational theme aimed at very young children - the letters of the alphabet and numbers - because the park is next to a nursery and school, and nursery kids are always in the park when allowed.

"We're just really thankful that we were awarded the funds. The money has been an amazing boost and it has made us able to get not just one design on the playground, but four. It's a big step forward for us."

In 2019, Red Marsh Special School in Thornton was awarded £10,000 to go towards transforming its playground into an interactive play area, complete with a football pitch and a 'play road' for children to ride their toys on.

To apply for the Swallowdale Trust big giveaway, email [email protected]