A project to create a new play park in Portree, which will include facilities for children with special needs, has generated close to £10,000 following a weekend of fundraising.
The plan to develop a new asset for the community in Matheson Place will cost £105,000 and is being led by a sub-group of the Portree and Braes Community Trust headed up by local resident Tiffany Maberley.
Ms Maberley has two sons, who are now teenagers, but speaking to the Free Press this week, she explained her motivation for taking on the venture.
She said: “My sons are 19 and 14, so people might wonder why I am doing this. “But I have always been involved in helping with things to do with the kids around here and I usually raise money for the young carers each year.
“Six months ago, I was visiting a friend in Glasgow. She’s in Cruickston – there is quite a big estate there and when I went for a walk there, I came across a park almost every minute of the walk. I was amazed how many there were there.
“I put up a post about this on Facebook – as the two parks we have in Portree are not really looked after and are quite dilapidated.
“I asked why we can’t do better for our kids here. It started a big conversation and got loads of people talking about it. Lots of parks were mentioned where local groups had got together to develop them, like the one in Plockton and the one in Kyleakin.”
Tiffany was given a helping hand by friend Gary Shinnie who suggested the old park in Matheson Place, which had been left to rot, and agreed to assemble a squad of volunteers to help clear the site.
After chatting to Highland Councillor John Gordon, Drew Millar from the local community council, and the Portree and Braes Community Trust, and a representative from the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association it was decided that the best way for Tiffany to take the project forward would be through the Trust’s Outdoor Activity group.
The project was able to acquire £7,500 from the National Lottery, and the group raised £1,364.78 last Friday and Saturday at the Co-op in Portree.
Commenting on the response, Tiffany said: “Friday and Saturday wasn’t just about fundraising it was also about making people aware of the project.
“When people were standing and put their signatures down, we were able to explain to them what we were doing, and when they saw the plans, most people said that it was a great idea, and they loved the fact that it had things for children with special needs in it.”
The group is raising money through funding applications, a JustGiving page, and is also inviting businesses to get involved in supporting the project too.
A 3D plan of the play park has been made by Kompan, who also worked on the new playpark in Kyleakin.
The park will comprise 17 different play activities including four swings, an octopus seesaw, a carousel, a four-tower unit with a tunnel and a slide, it will be able to accommodate 55 users of all ages.
Although there’s still plenty to do to bring the play park to life, Tiffany is confident that it will happen, and this year.
Article by Adam Gordon, images by Willie Urquhart.