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Council hands over new adventure playground site to playwork charity

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 13:50

Children and young people in the Isle of Man are set to experience exciting new play and learning opportunities in Douglas thanks to a partnership between Douglas Borough Council and local charity Isle of Play that has seen the creation of Lester’s Yard adventure playground in Ballaughton Park.


The lease to Lester’s Yard was officially handed over to Isle of Play chief executive officer Chris Gregory by the Mayor of Douglas Councillor Jonathan Joughin JP in a short ceremony where they were joined by children from Anagh Coar primary school.


Named in memory of Stuart Lester, a University of Gloucester lecturer and leading figure in the field of play, Lester’s Yard will be staffed and play experiences delivered by a skilled team of Isle of Play playworkers to children between the ages of four and 17.


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Lester’s Yard, which extends to some 2,500 square metres, represents an investment of £50,000 by the Council, which has installed a cabin with toilet facilities, erected new boundary fencing, provided disabled access and created a new car park adjacent to Albany Lawn Tennis Club.


The ‘soft’ opening of Lester’s Yard, which is to have a grand opening early in 2020, not only marks the beginning of a new era in free play and childhood development but also a first for the Isle of Man.


Regeneration and Community Committee Chair Councillor Stephen Pitts said: ‘Play is recognised as vital to children’s development and fundamental to their physical, emotional and social wellbeing.


‘I am therefore delighted that the Council has entered into such a positive partnership with Isle of Play. This is a project which has brought together our respective skills and expertise to the long-term benefit of children and young people across the Island.’


Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘Play has the power to strengthen communities, an ambition the Council shares and in which it is committed to investing.


‘This partnership with Isle of Play reflects a core objective of the Council’s Corporate Plan, namely to build a sense of community across the Borough. It not only reinforces the Council’s enlightened approach to delivering meaningful community services but also serves to strengthen the Isle of Man’s forward-thinking image and add to the list of firsts for Douglas.


‘Lester’s Yard will provide a safe and secure setting where children can grow and develop life skills but above all, it will be a place where they can have fun.’


Isle of Play chief executive officer Chris Gregory said: ‘We’re completely over the moon with how Lester’s Yard has come together; we couldn’t have asked for more from the Council.  Everybody has been so helpful and the communication has always been so positive and forward thinking. I think we’re all really excited to be working together to bring the first playground of its kind to the Island’s children. 


‘From here on we have no little idea as to how the playground is going to take shape; that’s completely down to the children.  But one thing is without doubt, it’s certainly going to be an exciting time for everyone involved.’