Southwick Park given makeover after navy funding

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YOUNGSTERS have a new place to have fun thanks to the Royal Navy following the refurbishment of a play park.

Second Sea Lord Vice-Admiral David Steel officially opened the site in Southwick Park – the first of 15 parks in Royal Navy estates across the country to be refurbished.

(l-r) Katie Chalton, Rhiannon Thomson and Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel. Picture: Malcolm Wells (141905-6732)

(l-r) Katie Chalton, Rhiannon Thomson and Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel. Picture: Malcolm Wells (141905-6732)

Vice-Adml Steel said: ‘It is fantastic to see such an improvement in family areas where children can play safely and to see this difference is something that is very close to my heart.’

Before the improvements, the park had just a few rundown see-saws and swings.

It cost about £70,000 to refurbish the park and building next to it, which will now be used as a community centre.

Lieutenant Commander Rachel Smallwood, 38, is the Portsmouth-based chief of staff at the Naval Education and Training Service.

Lt Cdr Smallwood applied to the Libor Fund for a £800,000 to refurbish the play park.

The fund is a £35m allocation to the Ministry of Defence from fines levied on banks for fixing a lending rate.

Lt Cdr Smallwood said the idea came from her son, Tom-Anthony. ‘A safe and attractive play park in the heart of the community is an effective way of meeting other families within the naval estate and forging a support network,’ she said. ‘It is important that people feel happy in the area that they live in, and a play park with decent facilities can help make a service family feel valued.’

Parent, Alexandra Moss, 32, said she was impressed with the new facilities.

She said: ‘It’s really varied and safe and colourful.

‘I have children of three different ages and it suits all of them.

‘And it’s nice to have seating for the parents.’

Another parent, Katie Miller, 36, said: ‘It’s amazing. We’ve been waiting so long to have a decent park here.’

Her eight-year-old daughter, Brooke, agreed.

‘It’s really, really cool,’ she said.