One of the most inclusive play parks in the south of Scotland is officially open at Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre.

The £350,000 facility near Ancrum was unveiled on Sunday 28 April with the support of the local community and children’s storybook star, Badger the Mystical Mutt: Badger was invited, not only to raise awareness of dogs being welcome at Harestanes, but also due to the ethos of the illustrated books which cover issues such as disability, bullying and prejudice.

The new play park offers a variety of play equipment for children of all ages. It features 50 pieces of innovative, durable play equipment from play specialists, Wicksteed as well as multi-sensory textures, landscaped features and safety surfacing.

There is a wide variety of play equipment for children with additional support needs, including the Borders’ only wheelchair swings, Wicksteed’s ‘Swirl’ (an inclusive roundabout), a 2-bay Viking basket swing set, and an all-inclusive sensory boardwalk.

In addition, there is an agility trail, a picnic area and a toddler play garden. At the heart of the play park is an impressive Jedburgh Abbey-inspired centrepiece and pyramid tower.

The play park, which will be managed by charity Live Borders as part of
their Harestanes centre, is the latest to be funded by Scottish Borders
Council’s £4million investment in new play parks, skate park, pump tracks
and other outdoor community facilities over four years.

Ben Lamb, Director of Operations at charity Live Borders, said, “Our new play park offers children of all ages and abilities to have challenging and imaginative fun, in the stunning Borders countryside. There have been significant developments at Harestanes over the last year and there is even more to come. We are placing Harestanes’ firmly on the map as a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.”

Badger the Mystical Mutt said, “I can’t wait to play on all these fantastic new facilities and then enjoy a higgledy-piggledy tower of toast in the Pooches’ Corner of the café. It’s brilliant that well-behaved doggies are welcome at Harestanes and I hope children of all ages enjoy playing at the super new play park!”

Work has already got underway on Coldstream’s new play park, while plans are being finalised for a new facility in Kelso.

Councillor David Parker, Convener of Scottish Borders Council, said, “Harestanes play park is a fantastic facility which will encourage local families to get outside and get active in a fun environment and hopefully encourage people to come to the visitor centre and the wider Scottish Borders.

“In the last three years, we have opened impressive and popular new play parks in Hawick, Galashiels and Oxton. We have Coldstream and Kelso both on the horizon to open later in 2019 and other facilities are due to be created across the Borders in the coming years.”

In a joint statement, local Jedburgh and District Councillors Jim Brown, Scott Hamilton and Sandy Scott, said, “Since the plans were announced late last year, there has been huge excitement in the local community for the opening of the Harestanes play park and it is a great sight to now see hundreds of children enjoying the wide array of play equipment.

“We expect Harestanes to see a boost throughout the upcoming summer and hopefully also bring more visitors to our stunning area of the Scottish Borders.”

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