What would you do if you were 10 years old and wanted a new swing to play on where you live? If your name’s Charmaine Blythe, you’d start gathering the signatures in your neighbourhood and take it from there!
When 10-year-old Charmaine Blythe petitioned her parish council for a new swing she got more than ever hoped for. Her determined efforts have led to Broadland District Council and Horsford Parish Council working together to rejuvenate three of the village’s play areas.
Park View was the first to be completed, in April 2020, followed by play areas in Coltsfoot Road and Beckside. And the £70,000 project was inspired by none other than Charmaine herself, who petitioned the parish council to ask for a new swing at the Park View play area, which is by Horsford Village Hall.
She says: ‘The play area had hardly any play equipment and what was there was old and wasn’t any good for playing on, I really wanted a swing.’
With the help of her parents, Charmaine petitioned the local community for improvements to the play area and gathered more than a hundred signatures. ‘We were so proud of her,’ says her mum Marie, ‘she did really well.’
The family presented the petition to the parish council, who sought the help of Broadland District Council and, working together, they drew up plans for a much-needed new play area.
The councils removed the dilapidated old equipment at Park View and replaced it with, not one but, three swings, two slides, a roundabout, climbing frames, sensory boards, extra seating and much more.
Charmaine adds: ‘When I heard we were getting the new play area, I felt really happy and excited, as we finally had something to do.’
And he mum adds: ‘All she wanted was a swing, but then she got something so much better, so she was really pleased.’
The project was such a success that the councils also worked together to rejuvenate two other play areas in the village, one at Coltsfoot Road and the other at Beckside.
Charmaine wanted a new swing, but what she got was so much more
Fran WhymarkCabinet Member for Housing and Wellbeing at Broadland Council
Broadland Councillor Fran Whymark, Cabinet Member for Housing and Wellbeing, says: ‘Charmaine wanted a new swing, but what she got was so much more. Horsford now has three lovely new play areas for children to enjoy thanks to one little girl’s determination to make a difference. She is an inspiration and thanks to her and the collaborative work of the two councils, children in Horsford have fantastic play facilities right on their doorstep that will be enjoyed by children for many years to come.’
It just shows what a big heart and determination can achieve
Chris BrownChairman of Horsford Parish Council
Chris Brown, Chairman of Horsford Parish Council, adds: ‘Charmaine only asked us for a swing, but her determination in getting so many signatures on her petition was the catalyst for this joint project between the two councils. We listened to her and provided so much more in Park View than she had asked for and then in Coltsfoot Road and Beckside. It just shows what a big heart and determination can achieve.’