Plans to restore a park play area following an arson attack have been given a £5,000 boost.
Parents were outraged and children left in tears after the pirate ship play area for toddlers in Darlington’s South Park was destroyed by fire in February.
Community campaigners launched a £23,000 appeal to replace the play area and the target is now £5,000 closer thanks to a grant from County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF).
The grant was presented on behalf of three charitable funds managed by the Foundation: Lendrum Family Grassroots Fund (Darlington); Ingenious Darlington Latimer Hinks Fund; and Darlington Building Society Community First Revenue Fund.
“Although this has been terrible, some good has come of it, as the public has reacted to it and made donations as well. Darlington residents were outraged at the destruction – kiddies were really upset and parents were nearly crying. It is such a wonderful park.”
Barbara Gubbins, chief executive of the Community Foundation, said: “This was a senseless and heart-breaking attack on a vital community facility. On behalf of our funding partners, we are thrilled to make a significant contribution towards having it restored and, hopefully, putting a smile back on the children’s faces.”
Elizabeth Armstrong, of Latimer Hinks, said: “The arson attack on the play area was devastating, but the response of the community has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re pleased to have been able to contribute towards its replacement and the many happy memories that will be made in the new play area.”
Darlington Building Society said it was “always happy” to help with community projects and was happy to help restore the play area to its former state.
Chris Lendrum, from the Lendrum Family Fund, said: A mindless arson attack on a children’s play area struck me as being so unacceptable that the least I could do was to make a contribution to putting things right.”
The aim is to install a piece of play equipment in the form of a large train, offering different play experiences such as climbing, sliding and role play.