On Wednesday 4 May, HRH The Duke of Kent opened the refurbished, King George’s Field at Barford, Warwickshire following major improvements to this Fields in Trust protected site.
Almost £500,000 has been raised in the last two years to construct an exciting new children’s play area, a multi-use games area (MUGA), two tennis courts, and an all-weather court. A new perimeter path has been built and a new store and toilets are also in place; additional benches and a picnic area add to the facilities on the site.
HRH The Duke of Kent is a grandchild of Queen Mary and King George V, after whom the playing field in Barford is named. It was originally opened in 1938 as a public recreation ground in a ceremony attended by the previous Duke of Kent. This week the Duke unveiled a commemorative plaque set on an oak post crafted by a village resident to mark the re-opening.
The transformation of King George’s Field is the culmination of much hard work by the local community, supported by generous sponsors and supporters, including the Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton local community, plus primary project grants from organisations including Sport England, WREN, Warwick District Council, Barford Community Charity, Warwickshire County Council, Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton Joint Parish Council (JPC), Barford St. Peter’s School Trust, Barford W.I., National Grid, Garfield Weston Foundation plus ten local businesses and many villagers.
A Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton Joint Parish Council Working Group was set up in January 2014 to oversee the project to refurbish King George’s Field. Since then, its members have put in over 2,500 hours to turn this idea into reality. John Murphy, Chairman of Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton Joint Parish Council and member of the Working Group, said “... to see so many local people come together to celebrate and enjoy our new exciting facilities was wonderful, topped by a quite remarkable day shared by HRH The Duke of Kent. It is most definitely a week which will be remembered for many years to come!”.
Fields in Trust Chief Executive Helen Griffiths said “Fields in Trust protects, in perpetuity, 471 King Georges Field across the UK – part of the legacy of a memorial appeal for King George V to establish outdoor space for all people - young or old - to enjoy. We are delighted that funders have made a significant investment to improve and maintain the Barford King George’s Field ensuring it continues to provide a healthy, happy place for the current generation of park users and reconfirming the original vision."
Guests,at the event included The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Mr Timothy Cox, as well as local dignitaries, guests, politicians, children from Barford St. Peter’s Primary School and, of course, numerous villagers from across Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton who have helped to make the project possible.
During his tour The Duke of Kent met Finlay Smith and Harry Lazell, both former pupils of Barford St. Peter’s Primary School whilst Harry Lazell is the current GB Under 12 number one tennis player and who played for Team GB three times during 2015. (pictured above).
The royal re-opening follows a community celebration on May Day; over 700 villagers came together to hold a celebration day on King George’s Field in Barford. The event included games, music, Morris dancing, food and refreshments, plus sporting and leisure demonstrations. The celebration day was part of the Fields in Trust ‘Have a Field Day’ campaign which promotes community enjoyment of parks and playing fields. Local people of all ages were able to have turn up and try out new activities. Every child under 16 living in Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton who was able to attend the day, plus every child at Barford St. Peter’s Primary School and Beehive Nursery in the village, received a King George’s Field commemorative medal.
Further improvements are planned on King George’s Field, Barford. Outdoor gym equipment will be introduced later this year, as well as an outdoor natural play area with logs and tree trunks, ready for imaginative play of all ages.