Children & Young People in Beech

Join us on 15th Dec to celebrate the new Playground!

Landscape view small

Dear friends

We wanted to include a few extra words that we couldn’t fit onto the Christmas party flyer, explaining a little more about the Children’s Christmas party this year.

We have received a very kind donation of £250 from The Tricycle Charity Shop in Alton so that we can lay on a spectacular children’s Christmas party this year. It is a way for all the children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins of the village to come together and celebrate our new village playground. We thought what better way to celebrate our achievements and thank everyone in Beech for their support this year than to put on an extra special party for the children.

The Tricycle Shop has been incredibly generous and their ‘surprise’ second donation (they had already donated to our appeal raising money for the Playground itself) has allowed us to do something extra special this year. We have specifically chosen a party with games and a disco that will incorporate a Winter Wonderland experience with fun surprises and Christmas games, making this event appealing for a much wider age range than previous years.

This spectacular party would not be able to happen if it wasn’t for the very kind donation from Tricycle, whom we thank very much.

In order to continue to provide lunch and drinks for the children there will be a small charge (just £3 per child) to cover a party lunch and drink for every child.

Please contact me on 590636 or by e-mail to reserve tickets for any children you would like to attend!

Many thanks for your support.

Jo Harrop 

A heartfelt thank you…

On Monday 19th August, just a few months after the idea was proposed (and not for the first time), Beech could finally boast its own children’s play area.

Dear Beech Villagers

Less than 8 months after we launched the initial appeal, our village playground is operational. I am sure I speak for all of the team when I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kind support and generous donations. Without you it would not have been possible. You have made a real difference to the young and old in our village. Your thoughts have created something tangible that will last generations.

I had so much good feedback since the playground was completed. Guests at a recent wedding reception in the Village Hall enjoyed it, and the level of use over the first week exceeded even my expectations. I was touched to not only see children enjoy the swing, slide, climbing frame and balancing on the dragonfly, but also teenagers and families using it as a meeting place.

Beech’s new play area has already enabled much joy and connectivity, it is a platform for people to meet.

It is working.

Thank you all for making it possible!

Daniel Gordon
Chair, Playground Working Group

Where the money came from

In addition to the many generous donations from the inhabitants of Beech, the Working Group and Village Hall Management Committee would also like to thank the following for their support:

  • Waitrose Alton staff who selected the Playground appeal as one of the three charities supported by their Waitrose Community Matters scheme in June 2013
  • Waitrose customers who allocated almost one third of the month’s tokens to our appeal, resulting in a donation of over £300.
  • The Tricycle Charity Shop in Alton which chose the Playground Appeal as its local charity in July 2013, resulting in a donation of £200.


Background to the project

According to data from the 2011 Census, there are over 90 “dependent children” in Beech, 39 of whom (or 7% of the village population) are between 1 and 10 years of age. It’s therefore perhaps not surprising that a key issue raised during the preparation of the Beech Village Parish Plan was “the lack of activities and facilities for the children and young people of Beech.” Almost 50 of the 200+ villagers who responded to the questionnaire identified this as a concern or a barrier to their greater involvement in village life. In response, the Parish Plan included the commitment “to explore the feasibility and cost of establishing play area(s) for the children and young people of Beech on Village Hall land.” (Further reading: Beech Village Parish Plan pp19-20).

Thanks to the enthusiasm and support of a group of parents in the village this process began early in 2013.

Children's races at the Village Fete

Children’s races at the Village Fete

A Working Group was set up comprising:

  • Daniel Gordon (Chair) – daughter aged 6
  • Nicola Siggs – sons aged 6 & 3
  • Ken Blanc – daughters aged 6 & 10
  • Sara Varo – daughters aged 3 & 5
  • Jo Harrop – son aged 4 and daughter aged 2
  • Debbie Kempton – son aged 4

Read on to learn why Daniel felt this project is so important, and to see details of the proposal drawn up by the Group for the installation of play equipment on the Village Green.

Dear neighbours

Do you remember how you played with your friends when you were growing up? I am sure that at this moment many of us will be remembering happy moments of play, fun and interaction. And without a doubt many of those memories will involve playing away from the family home and garden – something that is, sadly, increasingly uncommon for many of today’s children.

Front row of the stalls!

Front row of the stalls at the Big Band Night

My name is Daniel Gordon, and I moved to Beech rather recently (November 2012) with my wife Simone and our daughter Joleane. Despite all the renovation work and boxes that remain unpacked, we are enjoying our time here very much and are settling in well. It has helped that we have met so many villagers who have made us feel very welcome – thank you for that.

 A few words to introduce myself: I was born in Aachen, Germany and went to a Steiner school, which of course is rather different from mainstream UK schooling. My father is from Cornwall (so I guess this makes him English), who met my mother (a psychologist) whilst flying in F4 Phantoms with the RAF. By the way, I tried the ‘flying thing’ going solo in Gliders at Lasham a few years back (it took me 99 flights, which makes me anything but a natural!). It was, however, a great experience – I should take off again!

My lovely wife Simone is a vet and our daughter Joleane is 6 and loves Moshi Monsters and horses. She goes to school in Winchester. We came to England in 1997, when I finished university (financial economics) in Germany. I continued my studies here, completing my MBA and starting my career in London with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Work as a consultant took me around the world before I settled working for a Bank in London.

Star players at the Family Fun Cricket Day

Star players at the Family Fun Cricket Day

Since moving to Beech I have been impressed by how much social activity there is (Village Hall events, Christmas parties, etc.) and the strong sense of community. I sense much energy and that is good. In view of this, however, I was surprised to find that there is no play area for the youngest residents; a view which I’ve subsequently found is shared by a number of people. I believe that we could do more for the children of Beech, and I understand that doing so one of the top priorities identified in the Village Plan, which was endorsed recently.

Children are the future of any settlement and creating a platform for them to meet, develop social ties and play will strengthen the village overall. It would be testament to the village’s energy to create something tangible for the children of Beech that will be there for the next generation and beyond.

Why do we need children’s play equipment?

Independent research concludes that playgrounds are among the most important environments for children outside the home. Most forms of play are essential for healthy development, but free, spontaneous playthe kind that occurs in playgroundsis the most beneficial type of play.”

Recognizing the need for playgrounds, former [US] President Theodore Roosevelt stated in 1907: ‘Streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children … Neither do small back yards nor ornamental grass plots meet the needs of any but the very small children … Since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed … in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children cannot afford to pay carfare.'” (Source: Wikipedia)

swingsSome may question why it is necessary to install formal play equipment in a village like Beech where every house has its own garden and many children already have access to traditional playground-style equipment at home.

But a shared, public playspace is not simply an opportunity for exercise, it also provides an opportunity for children (and their parents) to socialise, often cementing relationships for years to come even if the children do not all go on to attend the same schools. 

Children are our future – and the future of the village. Installing a few pieces of play equipment on the Village Green would provide a platform for our little ones to play and to socialise. It will also reinforce the feeling of a village centre in Beech for a generation to come.

What would it look like?

The latest theories of play equipment design have moved away from brightly coloured metal tubes to more sympathetic designs in natural materials that are specifically designed to help develop children’s physical ability, coordination and positive risk-taking.

Further reading: “Playgrounds that  Rip up the Safety Rules” by Tim Gill

Making it happen

Fete11 bouncy small

For some residents the bouncy castle is the highlight of the Village fete!

Since I started to raise this issue with other parents in the village, I have been touched by people’s enthusiasm and energy. Having attended a few village events and met a number of villagers, I have noticed a strong ‘can do’ attitude in the village. If it can be done, it can be done in Beech!

The good news is that funding is already available for this initiative so it’s now a question of ascertaining wider village support for the proposal.

Daniel Gordon

What happened next

On 30th April an open meeting was held which was attended by a total of 23 people including five members of the Playground Working Group and six Village Hall Trustees.

The Working Group members made a presentation to attendees which included a video featuring some of the youngest residents of Beech explaining why they think the village needs some play equipment. Follow these links to see this material:

Eight people attended the meeting who live close to the Village Green where the proposed play equipment will be sited. Only one of them did not support the proposal and while this individual said he would not use the facility he did not actively object to it. Others expressed enthusiasm for the playground and liked the equipment selected with comments including “It looks really attractive, a wonderful idea”.

The funding requests were submitted to Beech Parish Council and EHDC and the play equipment was finally installed on 19th August.