In a roundabout way Acharacle youngsters play key role in new park

The new all singing all dancing facility is expected to be in situ by November this year.

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The current play park facility in Acharacle.

A group of mums from Acharacle who formed a steering group to raise money for a new playpark have put the success of the venture down to the community and its children.

Margaret Jane Macdonald, Fiona Cameron, Maxine Cameron, Kirsten MacLeod, Amie MacMaster, Yasmine Findlay and Sharon MacFaullt created a sub committee of Acharacle Community Company in July 2018 with the aim to redevelop the existing dated play park facilities in Acharacle.

Over £68,000 later they have now ordered the equipment and hope to have it installed and open to the public by November this year.

The group were buying the ground from Highland Council and experienced some delays due to the pandemic but finally managed to start seriously fundraising in May 2021 with a target of £65,000.

‘Local children started making loom bands and keyrings to sell and some even cycled from Salen to Kilchoan to raise money,’ said Margaret Jane.

‘We did a community steps challenge and then a raffle which raised £4,780. Other groups of children were busy selling old toys as well as running competitions like ‘Guess the number of sweeties in the jar’ and setting up stalls by the roadside to sell their products.

‘In addition to the hard work of the local children, a sponsored fun run raised just over £4,700, while shops and businesses utilised fundraising jars.

‘It has been a fantastic community effort.’

The project received more than £20,000 in donations from local businesses, as well as more than £30,000 in grants from Lochaber Community Funding, Arnold Clark, The Peoples Postcode Lottery, National Lottery Awards For All, Highland Council Ward Fund and The Scottish Salmon Company.

Once the drawings were made up for the new park, the group took the different options in to the local school and discussed with the children what they would like in it.  Playpark equipment specialists Scotplay were asked to make up a design with all the children’s preferences and copies were then posted online, on local notice boards and in local shops with the opportunity for the community to provide feedback.

The new play park logo designed by Roscoe Dawes.

In the meantime a competition to design a logo for the new park was getting under way,  with the community invited to vote for their favourite. This was won by Roscoe Dawes whose logo is now used on any correspondence and will feature on the new sign once the play park is built.

The group also paid tribute to Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Sarah Fanet who had offered help and support throughout the process. Ms Fanet said: ‘I have been very impressed by the hard work put in by the Acharacle Play Park Committee to provide a safe place for children to play in the community.

‘As Scotland’s Play Charter quite rightly states, play is essential to a happy childhood. The people of Acharacle have been pro-active and have invested in the children’s well-being.

‘Well done Acharacle. I cannot wait to see the new play park.’

The current funding total is £68,533.26 and once the play park is installed an annual fundraiser will be held to ensure funds for ongoing maintenance costs.

To keep up with the progress visit Acharacle Play Park Redevelopment on Facebook and Instagram @acharacleplaypark. You can also contact the group at acharacleplaypark@outlook.com.