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Watten Improvements Group

17 December 2014
Watten Play park - children at play

Watten Improvements Group was formed in 2012 to improve recreational facilities for the community of Watten. The children’s play park was in a state of disrepair and was quickly selected as a priority; the group wanted to provide local children with a safe, fun and stimulating place to go. As the playpark can be seen by tourists and passers-by from the main road, it was felt that if it looked more interesting it might attract people to stop in the village. With assistance from Caithness Voluntary Group, the group set about making plans and seeking funding.

A grant of £40,000 from the E.ON Camster Community Fund helped ensure that the group’s plans could be put into action. This money was combined with funding from a variety of other sources, and the target of £105,000 was soon reached.

Watten Improvement Group were keen to ensure the whole community were behind the project. Households across the village had the opportunity to be involved in the design of the play park, whilst children from the local primary school and pre-school enjoyed selecting the various play equipment.

The fundraising efforts brought the community together, with events offering something for everyone. The group organised a summer show, beetle drives, bingo nights, a World Food Night (an all you can eat buffet from around the world), and even a sponsored tractor pull.

The result of their hard work is a play park which is bright, vibrant, stimulating and safe. It’s a place children off all ages can enjoy, try a shot on the zip wire or trampoline or demonstrate their talents on musical instruments. And for the younger members there is a toddler boat. The community can be proud of its play park and encourage children from other areas to come and join in the fun.

One young girl from Watten commented “It is great to have somewhere to meet friends. There are seats at the top of the tunnel slide unit so we sit up there and chat”.

But it’s not just the children of the village who are seeing the benefits – it’s the older generation as well. One local grandparent said, “The new play park is fantastic! All ages of children in the village are playing together and lots of families visit from other areas so the kids are getting to mix with lots of children which is great”.

Visitors are also commenting on how great the park is “We regularly visit the play park as it has great equipment for all ages. We are delighted to have such a great play park in Caithness”.

The funding from the E.ON Camster Community Fund was timely; without it the project was running the risk of being stopped in its tracks.

With success of this project the group has been approached for guidance and support by other groups hoping to achieve similar aims.

Watten Improvement Group continues to work for the benefit of the community and has recently been awarded a £1,950 contribution from the Watten Community Fund, provided by Whirlwind Renewables and similarly administered by Foundation Scotland, for the installation of lighting in the play park and the adjacent car park. This will enable the continued enjoyment of the play park even in the dark winter nights.

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