Hawick’s school children were kings of the castle on Friday as they enjoyed exclusive access to the town’s brand new playpark in Wilton Lodge Park.
The £300,000 facility was officially opened ahead of schedule by guest pupils from the town’s primary schools on Friday morning.
Youngsters from Stirches, Trinity and Wilton primary schools, who had been involved with the design of the park, cut the ribbon and enjoyed VIP access ahead of the park opening to the public in the afternoon.
Wilton Lodge Park events manager Gordon Webber was delighted to see the playpark being enjoyed by the children who had such an input into its creation.
He explained: “The kids from three schools in Hawick were involved with creating the designs and ideas for the park and we met with the three groups almost a year ago now so they could present us with their wish list and ideas.
“One of the main things they wanted was that it should be totally accessible to people with disabilities, so we have a sensory garden that is totally accessible to wheelchairs and we have a roundabout that can take a wheelchair and of course the basket swing too.
“Other things were typical things like swings, roundabouts, a trampoline. And one of the things that came up with all three groups is that they wanted a castle. So they have got their castle.”
The children also came up with the ideas of incorporating Hawick’s history and scenery into the design and the park proudly features a river design, horse artwork and common riding flag as part of the wet floor.”
Mr Webber added: “A lot of the children talked about the themes that come out of Hawick. Other things that came up when we met them is that they wanted an areas where the older kids could either use the equipment or just hang out and also an area where preschool kids can play in too.”
And they have been granted their wishes as the park features a range of different zones with play equipment suitable for all age groups and abilities as well as a fully accessible wet pour surface.
Pride of place stands the castle-inspired centre piece complete with slides, nets and monkey bars, and surrounding that a range of different swings, balance boards, sensory equipment and a trampoline.
The playpark has been developed as part of the £3.64m Wilton Lodge Park Regeneration Project, funded by Scottish Borders Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It is one of the largest value items to be delivered as part of the restoration and looks set to be a major attraction for Hawick families and visitors from further afield.
Work can now begin on the removal of the old playpark at Volunteer Park so that the area can be used to provide additional parking for the park and the nearby 2G and 3G pitches.
The remainder of the works are scheduled to be completed in the summer, and an overall opening ceremony will take place later in the year.