The Rt Hon David Cameron MP opened a new play park at RAF Brize Norton today, in Faulder Avenue, Carterton. Funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF), the play park has been built as a facility for the children of RAF families based at Brize Norton and will also be accessible to children living in the local area.
It is part of the RAFBF’s ten-year, £24 million Airplay youth support project which combines the installation of play parks and multi-use games areas with an RAF-wide youth service.
After opening the innovative play park, the Prime Minister found time to meet the station’s Airplay youth worker, young people who volunteer with the Airplay project and the children and young people who will use the facility, as well as parents serving with the Royal Air Force.
He also inspected the centrepiece of the park - a large climbing frame shaped like the Hercules aircraft based at RAF Brize Norton.
Mr Cameron said: "The Airplay project is something that I whole-heartedly support and I would like to personally thank the RAF Benevolent Fund and Community Covenant for making this possible.
"The playground is a testament to our great community because, not only will it make a positive difference to many children and parents, it will help build even stronger bonds between military and civilian families."
The Airplay project is providing new play parks, games areas and trained youth workers on RAF stations nationwide. Working in partnership with RAF community support teams and national charity 4Children, the RAF Benevolent Fund is delivering much improved facilities and activities for RAF young people, taking the strain off busy RAF parents, at home and on the front line.
Patrick Button, 16, has a father currently serving in the RAF.
He said: "I think this park will make a big difference to RAF kids and local kids alike. It’s there for everyone in the whole community to enjoy."
Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Benevolent Fund said: "We are delighted that the Prime Minister could open this splendid Airplay park today.
"Airplay really is a Big Society project, making a strong contribution to building a better, healthier society in Oxfordshire and at RAF stations across the country.
"Combined with the Airplay childcare centre which we have built at RAF Brize Norton and the Airplay youth workers based at the Allandale Centre, the RAF Benevolent Fund is doing everything it can to take pressure off families living around the RAF’s largest and busiest station – a key part of our role as the RAF’s leading welfare charity.
"I would like to thank personnel at RAF Brize Norton for raising a considerable amount for the Fund, as well as a generous donation by BAE Systems and a large grant by the Armed Force’s Community Covenant, all of which has contributed to the success of this initiative. As a charity with no guaranteed income we rely on this kind of wonderful enthusiasm for our work – we simply could not provide the support Airplay offers without it."
Alison Miller of BAE Systems said: "BAE Systems gives over £2m every year to armed forces charities and events in the UK.
"Providing funding via the RAF Benevolent Fund towards the Airplay park at RAF Brize Norton and RAF Lossiemouth illustrates BAE Systems' commitment to supporting its customer community, their families and the communities in which we operate."