A £4,300 cash boost from the Gannett Foundation has helped St Peter’s Playgroup in Wolvercote finally fund the transformation of their ‘mud swamp’ outdoor play area.

Work will begin next week on replacing turf, regularly too wet to use in winter, with artificial grass.

It comes as the Oxford Mail's parent company Gannett Media launched its latest search for charities looking for a funding boost of up to £10,000.

St Peter's applied in last year's funding round and was one of five charities in Oxfordshire given £30,000 to fund everything from outings for young carers to the creation of a cyber cafe.

Playgroup committee member Megan Carberry said: “We’ve been slowed down by waiting for the diocese to approve the changes to the land because it is church owned but it’s finally happening now.

“It’s going to be fantastic. At the moment in the winter it becomes a mud swamp on the grass and it’s unsafe for the younger children.”

She explained that ,as the grass was on the north side of St Peter’s Church, it remained in shadow most of the day, which prevented it drying properly.

The mother-of-one added that for the past two winters access had been shut off completely for weeks at a time because the children were ‘slipping and hurting themselves’.

She said staff were looking forward to seeing the children enjoy the benefits of outdoor play all year round.

She said: “It’s a vital part of early years education that they get outside and explore nature rather than being cooped up inside all the time."

Each year the Gannett Foundation sifts through hundreds of applications to find local causes most in need of help.

This year the criteria has been expanded to include one-day or limited-time events.

Mrs Carberry encouraged others to take advantage of the scheme.

She said: “I would definitely recommend putting in an application.

"I didn’t think we fitted the conditions exactly last year but it worked out for us.

“I was initially put off applying because the process seemed daunting but when I started I found the questions asked were straightforward and didn’t make you jump through any ridiculous hoops.”

“The project was something that had been talked about for the past five years, but was only looked into properly a couple of years ago.

“When we did we realised it was far beyond what we could afford and it wouldn’t have been possible without the grant.”

See oxfordmail.co.uk for full criteria.

All applications must be submitted by 5pm on Monday, October 9. They will only be accepted if submitted on an approved entry form, available from oxfordmail.co.uk/news/community/gannettfoundation. These must be sent with supporting evidence to gannettapplications@nqo.com or by post to Oxford Mail, Newsquest Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0EJ.