New play parks for RAF kids

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Three new play parks for children living at and around RAF Halton were recently officially opened as part of a project to improve life for RAF families across the UK.

The parks are a great improvement to family life for the personnel at RAF Halton as the existing parks were all in need of modernisation.

The nature of modern family living means that outdoor play is often limited and, whilst RAF personnel organise activities for the young people, increased operational commitments inevitably mean less capacity for such ventures.

This is where Project Airplay, run by the RAF Benevolent Fund, comes to the rescue. The £24m programme provides facilities and trained youth support workers to make family life for RAF personnel a little easier up and down the country.

The Regional Director of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Paul Hewson, said:

RAF children face a number of unique challenges. They move around the country as operations demand, often to stations in isolated, rural locations, where children must make new friends and start at new schools. In addition, parents may deploy overseas at short notice, often to war zones. It is not always easy, and can put strain on the family unit.

That’s why the RAF Benevolent Fund developed the Airplay programme. By giving young people access to the facilities and activities they deserve, we can take some of the pressure off RAF parents - at home and on the front line.

The official ribbon could barely contain the excited youngsters at one park who were all eager to get on with the serious business of playing as soon as the ribbon was cut! One of the first to get playing on the new park at Perch Meadow was nine-year-old Nicholas Moss who attends Halton Community Combined School.

He said:

I think they will give a lot of fun to people so it was definitely money well spent. The old parks were not as exciting as these new parks and I’m looking forward to playing on them with my brother.

Wing Commander Darren Moss, Nicholas’s father, who works as Officer Commanding Training Wing at RAF Halton, said:

It is a fantastic improvement on the old facilities. The Benevolent Fund has done a really good job here as the provision of playing facilities can make a big difference to Service families.

The Station Commander, Group Captain Chris Elliot, said:

A big thank you must go out to everyone involved with this project, including the families who were involved in developing the type of equipment that has been put up, making this a true team effort.

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity, providing financial, practical and emotional support to all members of the RAF family.

Some 80 Airplay youth support workers are now in position at RAF stations across the country, with some 2,000 children and young people accessing the services they provide over the last year.

Over 40 new Airplay parks have been constructed, with many more to come over the course of this year. Over £13m has already been spent constructing Airplay Childcare Centres at 27 RAF stations, providing 1,800 places for children aged 0-5 last year.