‘We did it!’ Mums on a mission raise £150k to revamp Leeds playground

GREAT EFFORT: Fundraising mums Sara Dawson, second right, and Petra Smith, right, with Richard Critchley, chairman of FoRP, centre, pictured with mums using the park, left.  PIC: Simon Hulme
GREAT EFFORT: Fundraising mums Sara Dawson, second right, and Petra Smith, right, with Richard Critchley, chairman of FoRP, centre, pictured with mums using the park, left. PIC: Simon Hulme
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A ‘bunch of busy mums’ are celebrating after pulling off an impressive fundraising feat to net over £150,000 in a matter of months to revamp a dilapidated local playground.

The five-strong group has reached the grand total of £159,000 - smashing their original target of £100,000 - just five months after launching a bid to revitalise the under sevens’ playground at Roundhay Park.

Roundhay Playground Committee, a sub committee of Friends of Roundhay Park, was formed in April to try and improve the 14-year-old equipment at the play area, near the Lakeside Cafe.

Read more: Parents launch £100,000 bid to revamp Leeds playground.

Their ‘Roundhay Park Playground Appeal’ captured the hearts of the local community and businesses who rallied to find ways to raise help the total, alongside grant funding applied for by the committee members.

Mum-of-two Laura Webb, 41, of the committee, said she was “in shock” at the speed they have managed to raise the cash.

“It goes to show you can achieve anything if you give it to a bunch of busy mums. We all work or are on maternity leave with young families. There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes but we had a collective will to make it happen - and make it happen while our children are still young enough to enjoy it. I’m just really proud, really pleased and a bit in shock.

“Not just on a personal level but I’m really proud that as a community we have got this to happen. I know we have driven it but there’s been lots of support from the wider community - not just financially but lots of ‘how can I help’ from different businesses and people. It’s just been a real feel-good project to work on.”

Read more: Leeds park appeal at halfway mark.

The extra cash means more equipment and quicker timescales - with the hope of the new-look playground opening in time for Christmas.

“I’m really excited. It’s going to be colourful, it’s going to be bright. I just hope to see lots of children having fun, including my own.

“The playground is used by a lot of families - not just local but from all over Leeds. I think it will be of a quality that it should be - given the iconic nature of Roundhay Park. It will be first class. I think people will come to the park with their children specifically to come to the playground, whereas at the moment people go to other playgrounds because it’s such poor equipment and so broken.”

Playground supplier Kompan match-funded £50,000 to the fundraising pot, which helped push the total over the edge.

Other successful fundraising initiatives included local families donating £50 or £80 for a personalised animal badge to be displayed at the new-look playground, where local businesses which donated over £250 will also get a mention.

A quiz night was held at the Lakeside Cafe in June and the committee held a silent auction throughout July of gifts donated by local companies.

The local ward councillors also donated £10,000.

Richard Critchley, chairman of Friends of Roundhay Park, said they were “delighted” with the outcome of the committee’s work.

“This has been achieved purely by local mother members of the Friends, who FoRP have supported in their efforts to raise the staggering amount of money necessary for the work to start in a few weeks time.

“We are also grateful, not only to large organisations, but also to the many local businesses who have contributed so generously, not forgetting the support of the [council] parks department management and local councillors without whom we would not be able to go ahead.

“The Friends are rightly proud of all their many and varied efforts which enhance and improve the park and which support the sterling work of the council’s workers who keep the park in good shape and make Roundhay Park such a wonderful venue for the people of Leeds, and further afield, to enjoy.”