IT’S taken over two years of hard work but Hayling Island has finally got a climbing wall the whole community can be proud of.
The brightly coloured 21ft high wall was unveiled yesterday at Hayling College to cheers from pupils, teachers, the police and even Doris Long, known to people around the world as ‘Daring Doris’.
The 97-year-old record- breaking abseiler was the guest of honour at the event and even has part of the climbing wall named after her.
Last year PC Debbie Surridge entered a National Lottery competition for a £50,000 grant for a community project.
She rallied the people of Hayling and, with the support of teacher Alan White at Hayling College, they managed to beat 16 other projects with an amazing 16,000 votes from members of the public.
The climbing wall took two weeks to build and is now ready to be used by people of all ages and abilities, including disabled and partially sighted people.
PC Surridge said: ‘It started when I returned to patrol after being on a desk job and the first thing that struck me was we seemed to be constantly moving children on from place to place because of anti-social behaviour.
‘They hadn’t actually broken the law, they were just bored, and people found the big groups intimidating.
‘There wasn’t a great deal for them to do on the island.
‘My whole family started to climb recently and my children have benefited from it so much.
‘I’m the beat officer for the school and, after talking to my sergeant about it, I looked into getting a new climbing wall.
‘We were absolutely delighted to get the lottery grant.
‘Now we need people to use it and make the most of it.’
The climbing wall will be manned by fully-trained volunteers.
Each session costs £4 and that money goes back into maintaining the wall.
Mrs Long said: ‘It’s just amazing. If I didn’t have a frozen shoulder I’d be up there with them.
‘It’s an honour to have my name up there.’
n A free taster session is being held tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.
Sessions are every Thursday throughout the holidays.