Community celebrates new playground and sports facilities at Valence Park
PUBLISHED: 14:14 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 27 March 2019
A new playground, basketball court and outdoor gym have opened in Valence Park after two years of campaigning by a local mum.
Lisa Adams, who teaches at Barking Abbey Primary, led the effort to raise the £269,598 after she took her kids to the park for the first time.
“You’d want your first photo of your child having their first time on the swings to be a really lovely photograph.
“It just wasn’t, because the swings are a bit grotty and the tarmac was all broken and everything looked a bit grey and boring.
“I knew that the council wouldn’t have any money for it, otherwise they would have already done it. So I wanted to go to the council and say, ‘Can I be a solution to this problem? I want to help to raise funds.’
“Rather than complain, I wanted to actually do something to help.”
Though they’ve been open for a few weeks, the community around the park gathered on Tuesday to officially open the new facilities.
The additions include a new playground, a floodlit basketball court, an outdoor gym and a table tennis table.
Lisa was joined by Barking and Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell and Matt Roebuck from London Sport at the opening.
A five minute ‘community workout’ followed the speeches along with an introduction to the gym and a mini-basketball tournament with players from the British Basketball League team the London Lions.
After two years of writing bids to get grants and late nights working on the park, Lisa is glad to see the fruit of her efforts.
“If you go to Valence Park you’ll see there are people of all ages playing on everything, being together, all mixing together. It’s really nice,” she said.
She was keen to point out that all this came from the work of a normal person and people who believed in her idea.
“Because of that, we now have the reality of the new play area and sports zone and gym equipment.
“I just like to say thank you for believing in the vision, that our local community is worth it, the children are worth it, the teenagers are worth it and that the mums are worth it.”
Councillor Saima Ashraf, deputy leader and cabinet member for community leadership and engagement said: “The new play area and sporting facilities at Valence Park look absolutely fantastic and I am delighted that residents are now able to start using them.”
The London Marathon Charitable Trust donated the bulk of the money, giving £140,000. It also donated £10,000 for events at the new facilities.
Waste company Veolia donated £59,999 and Barking and Dagenham Council provided £39,000.
Sports England gave £25,000 and a crowd funding effort raised £5,599.