Youngsters’ spirits sky high thanks to park at RAF base

Air Marshal Chris Nickols, centre, officially opens the park

Air Marshal Chris Nickols, centre, officially opens the park

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Rose Hill, Iffley and Littlemore. Please call me on (01865) 425422

WHILE their parents are flying overhead in state-of-the-art military planes, the children of RAF Benson will be able to enjoy a new skate park on solid ground.

The skate park and play park, which was opened last Tuesday by RAF Benevolent Fund controller Air Marshal Chris Nickols, cost £130,000 and will cater for more than 500 families who live on the site.

The skate park features a half pipe and quarter pipes for older children and the play park has a custom-designed tube slide, climbing apparatus, swings and a floor-level trampoline.

Flight Lieutenant Emma Phillips said her two-year-old son Ollie loves the park.

She said: “He can go on his scooter with the older boys and girls and it has a bouncy floor so parents can relax.

“The kids all absolutely love it. They have never had anything like it on the station before – it means kids from all ages can enjoy the outdoors.

“Children are joining together and enjoying the park, kids who wouldn’t normally meet each other from across the station are joining together.”

It has been made possible by the RAF Benevolent fund and contributions from the RAF Central funds, which specifically funded the skate park.

The new play park is a renovation of Chipmunk Park, which had become outdated, and young people on the base had been eager to have a skate park as well.

Station commander of RAF Benson, Group Captain Nigel Colman, was present at the formal unveiling of the park along with dozens of families who live on the base.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see so many eager young faces enjoying such a great facility.

“It can be quite difficult for our families, particularly coping with separation somewhere that is relatively isolated, so having somewhere fun they can go without travelling is absolutely brilliant.”

Air Mshl Nickols said: “In response to a request from the RAF a few years ago, the RAF Benevolent Fund committed to providing child care centres, a youth support programme and play parks for younger children on all major stations.

“It’s just one of the ways we support serving personnel and their families who serve alongside them.

The base also has a youth club, Girl Guide and Scouts groups and an Air Training Corp for the children of serving personnel.

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