It all started with a seven-year-old’s letter more than six years ago.
Charlie Jenkins, now 14, from East Harling, wrote a letter to his local parish council asking for the hopscotch area to be repainted.
And last week saw the culmination of ambitious project and two major fund-raising efforts with the grand opening of a pair well-equipped play areas for the south Norfolk village.
At the event on Saturday Breckland Councillor Marion Chapman-Allen presented the Harling Play Project (HaPPy Committee) £17,500 from the authority.
Other contributors to the project were Harling Parish Council, Awards for All, Fields in Trusts, and bequests from two village residents, Miss Kerridge and Miss Bunkall.
Local companies and residents also helped to make up the final total.
Liz Mould, Vice Chair of Harling Parish Council said: “When the Parish Council received Charlie’s letter it got me thinking, and I realised that we should look more widely at play provision for children of all ages in the village.
“A small group of villagers met in 2010 and we set up the HaPPy (Harling Play Project) Committee. It’s taken a while to accomplish but the results are better than we could ever have hoped for.”
Lynda Turner, Breckland Council Deputy Leader said: “This fantastic achievement demonstrates how much can be achieved by a small band of dedicated and determined organisers and fund-raisers, with the support of local people and businesses.
“Thanks to their sterling efforts there are now two well-equipped play areas in the village, away from the busy road, that will be enjoyed and appreciated by children and parents alike for many years to come.”
After a consultation with the local community, a target was set to raise funds which would provide playing equipment for over 12s on the Recreation Ground, and replace old, outdated equipment on the Poplars play area for the under 12s. £26,000 was subsequently raised in the first two years for the equipment at the Recreation Ground, installed in December 2012. A further £73,000 was then raised to improve the Poplars.
This includes swings, toddler multi-play equipment, see-saw, hopscotch area, Lycee uni-play climbing frame, and a rope swing. A dedicated picnic area for families has also been created with new tables and bins.
A spokesperson for Breckland Council added: “Ellen Jolly, Breckland Council ward member for Harling and Heathlands and Marion Chapman-Allen Breckland Council ward member for the neighbouring Guiltcross ward, have been closely involved with the project throughout and supported the grant application to Breckland.”
The Poplars is a registered Children’s Playing Field and was donated to the village in 1947 by Captain Grigson of East Harling in memory of his son, a Fleet Air Arm pilot killed in action in 1940.