Stow Community Parks gets much needed improvements
Starting with discussions around the idea with Parish of Stow Community Council in August 2014, a hard-working group of local parents took it upon themselves to develop Stow Community Park, to provide a range of equipment for play and physical exercise for local residents and visitors.
The village of Stow is home to around 730 people, situated on the Gala Water just 8 miles north of Galashiels. While villagers enjoy a high quality of life in many ways, there is a lack of local services in the community and, prior to this project, this included opportunities for outdoor play and physical exercise for young and old alike. Many residents were driving to such facilities elsewhere.
The group’s vision was that the under-used green space in the centre of the village would become the focal point for the community to gather. With plans for new play and gym equipment, benches and landscaped trees, the group saw the potential for the park to in being able to offer something for people of ages, thereby increasing social connections and community cohesion. In particular, the group believed that, with the right choice of equipment, the new park would re-ignite enjoyment of the outside environment for a significant number of older and teenage children.
The group identified three key elements to achieve this vision:
- Provide stimulating and challenging play park facilities for children aged 8 years and over
- A flat, safe path for runners and walkers of all ages and abilities and for young learner cyclists
- An outdoor gym area for teenagers and adults to enable health, well-being and socialising – the first outdoor gym in the Scottish Borders
The grant of £25,000 from the EDF Longpark Community Fund made a substantial contribution to the overall build cost, including the purchase and installation of equipment, planning costs and other preparatory work. Without the grant it would not have been possible to install such a wide range of equipment.
As their first funder, Stow Community Park is clear that EDF Renewables’ Longpark grant enabled other funders to have confidence that the project was supported locally, and so assisted in leveraging a package of funding to meet the overall project costs of £120,000. Matched funds came from eight other grant funders and local fundraising by the group.
Being awarded this grant so early in the project enabled other grant funding organisations to view our project favourably.
The grant allowed Stow Community Park to realise our dream of having multigenerational park equipment within our village… The impact will be huge. Every day since the equipment was safe to use, children and adults have been in the park; this is a sharp contrast to the empty green space we had before. We now have an engaging outdoor space to socialise and exercise within our own community. Some folk from a local town have even travelled to our village so see what the buzz is all about!
Helen Houston, project volunteer, Stow Community Park
Following a lengthy period of project development work the new equipment was installed in April 2018 and the new path laid in June that year, with the facilities opening later that month.
The entire community of Stow, nearby villages and visitors have benefitted from the creation of a multigenerational outdoor space. The play equipment for children is both challenging and stimulating while the fitness equipment is for people over 1.4 metres tall, allowing teenagers and adults to exercise in an outdoor space away from traffic. This also allows parents of older children to exercise while their children are playing in the park.
The path has a ramp to enable the less mobile to get into the park, something they had been unable to do previously. Benches and a picnic table allow people to relax and socialise within a safe and beautiful outdoor setting. Local people no longer have to leave the village to utilise such facilities.
Here are some of the things park visitors have said:
I enjoy the new park so much I could cry! The old park got really boring after a while, so glad the new park is so epically brilliant
Daisy, age 8 years.
Great for developing muscle tone in her weaker side. Also to role play and socialise with other young people
Mother of teenager with Cerebral Palsy
The gym equipment is great it gets me out of the house and I don’t have to pay a gym fee!
Cammy, aged 14 years
It provides kids with my age with great equipment to play on, which we’ve not had for ages! Lots of us go after school to use it
Isla, age 11 years.
Brilliant addition to the village and excellent for the older children. They love it and find it so fun and can spend hours playing with friends. Very sturdy equipment which gives us peace of mind
Susan, Mother of two boys.
The new Stow Park … enables parents to give their children more freedom with the peace of mind of knowing where they will be. This park has had an amazing impact on Stow and has already changed our lives
Joanne, mother of kids aged 12, 10, 7, 6 & 4 years.
Since the park has opened there hasn’t been a day where it isn’t used by loads of kids and adults. It will help the children’s development and wellbeing so much. It is a great place to socialise
Mum of 10 and 8-year-olds.