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Banks Group Grant Shines A Light On Darlington Community Group’s Rec Ground Improvement Plans

(front) John and Joan Thompson of the Friends of Fryer's Field with (back, from left) Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, Darlington Borough Councillor Chris McEwan and James Eaglesham of the County Durham Community Foundation

Support from a regional employer has helped a Darlington community group bring the recreation ground that they look after into the light.

The Friends of Fryer’s Field was set up at the beginning of 2018 with a view to protecting, maintaining, promoting and developing the well-used community resource, which sits in the Haughton area of the town, in order to maximise access for local people and protect the wildlife that lives there.

Since then, its volunteer members have carried out a wide of improvement works at the site, and had begun to look at how new lighting might be installed along the path which runs across the recreation ground from Fryer Crescent to Whinfield Road

The Friends approached the Durham-headquartered Banks Group for support for the project, which aimed to make the route safer for walkers, joggers and cyclists during the hours of darkness, including young people heading to and from the nearby Haughton Academy Education Village.

A £4,000 grant from the Banks Community Fund has now enabled the Friends to get Darlington Borough Council to install low-level LED lighting right along the 400-yard path.

Gifted to the children of Haughton by Frederick Fryer in 1930, Fryer’s Field’s facilities already include a playground, basketball court and junior football field.

The group has also been able to add bespoke new seating to the park which was designed and built by well-known Darlington engineering firm Cleveland Bridge,

Two Tees Wildlife Trust activity days have been held there over the summer, and the Friends are currently planning what other events and activities might be put on there in the future.

John Thompson, secretary of the Friends of Fryer’s Field, says: “The recreation ground is a very important part of our community, and the Friends group was formed as a way of maintaining and enhancing what it offers to local people.

“Installing lighting along the footpath was identified as a local priority early on, but there’s no way we could have afforded to get the required work done without The Banks Group’s generous support.

“We chose an LED lighting system that minimises both energy usage and light pollution, and as well as making the park more accessible to local people, it has the added benefit of discouraging anti-social behaviour.

“It’s been lovely to see so many people of all ages making better use of the park over the summer, and with winter just around the corner, the new lighting will make a real difference to how the park can be safely accessed during the darker months.”

Local Darlington Borough Councillor Chris McEwan adds: “It’s been fantastic how the Banks Group has got behind this great project – they have really demonstrated their support for community groups and community action.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, says: “The Friends put a huge amount of time and effort into ensuring that Fryer’s Field is the very best that it can be for all the local people that use it, and we’re very pleased to have helped them complete this latest improvement project.”

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham, fund manager for the Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.