Welsh football icon applauds his former school as it unveils new £12,000 playground
Welsh international football star Owain Fôn Williams has sent his heartfelt congratulations to his former primary school as it unveiled a new £12,000 playground.
The giant goalkeeper, who plays for Scottish Premiership club Inverness Caledonian Thistle and was one of Wales’ Euro 2016 heroes, said the outdoor facility at Ysgol Bro Lleu in Penygroes, Caernarfon, which was designed, built and manufactured by Chester-based family firm Creative Play, would encourage children to keep active and increase their self-confidence.
The six foot four inch 29-year-old, an accomplished painter who grew up in the village and attended the local school, said he was proud to count himself among its former pupils and said the new ‘first class’ facilities would encourage a new generation of sports stars.
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Ysgol Bro Lleu on its fantastic new playground facility which will help to keep children inspired and active during the school day,” he said.
“Ysgol Bro Lleu is a wonderful school and I’m proud to be among its former pupils. This new addition will not only help boost the pupils’ interest in sport and their self-confidence but will ensure they receive plenty of opportunity to get out and enjoy the fresh Welsh air.
“The school council has played an instrumental role in the design process, incorporating a diverse range of activities and movement challenges to help children practice their coordination skills. Members should be very proud of their achievements which will benefit every pupil at the school.
“With first class facilities such as these, I’m sure there will be lots of new sports stars emerging in the future.”
Spread over a 20 by 25m grass area, the playground stands at the bottom of the school field and was funded via a grant through Tesco’s Bags of Help 5p carrier bag scheme. This charity project sees the supermarket reinvesting money generated from the 5p cost of carrier bags into community projects.
The school was selected for an £8,000 grant but increased its funding to the maximum £12,000 after receiving the most tokens from voting shoppers in-store.
The new play area incorporates no fewer than 15 interactive fitness activities from balance beams and climbing frames through to monkey bars and ropes. It took a week to build and is already a hit with school pupils and young families in the village.
Creative Play’s Sales Director David Esser, who oversaw the project, said:
“The headteacher, Mr Jones, wanted as much play value as possible. The school had a big grass field for the children to run around in and so we went for 15 different items of Trim Trail which is our core range of playground equipment.
“Everybody was keen to promote physical health and wanted to encourage physical activity in an unstructured way unlike a PE lesson.
“There are chin up bars, a ramp jump, jelly board, moving beam, parallel bars, sit- ups, log walk, tyre crossing, treadmill, climbing wall, A-frame double net, gripped rope walk, vertical twisted net, try-sprung balance beam and a crawling net. It fills a lot of space and is a cost-effective way of providing lots of different sporting activities and maximising value.
“The playground promotes balance and coordination, upper body strength and fine motor skills. It targets a whole range of muscle groups.
“We don’t promote resistance and weight lifting in this age of children it’s about using your own body strength and using different movement skills to keep active.
“A lot of schools find once they introduce playgrounds like this they notice a real increase in the attention span and behaviour in the classroom.”
The 38-year-old from Chester added:
“What is also fantastic is that the headteacher has taken the view to actually promote it and allow children to use the equipment in the evenings and at weekends so the whole community benefits.”
Headteacher Gerallt Jones said the school had wanted to create a focal community area where children could not only play and learn but families could spend time together.
“We tried to involve as many people as possible from staff members and those who live in the community through to the after school club, the nursery and the school council,” said the 34-year-old, who lives in Caernarfon.
“We never expected such a huge impact. We’ve had children from the secondary school coming down to have a go. We now realise that we might need some more tables and chairs down there so that hopefully when the summer arrives it’ll be a place where people can enjoy picnics and become a real community asset.
“We want to encourage parents to get together with other families and get to know one another.
“Creative Play provided the best value quote for the new play area. The school council put together a wish list of what everybody wanted and the design of the play area stemmed from there.
“We went for a fitness theme as there’s a really big push nationally to tackle obesity. We wanted to improve the area and promote health, fitness and sport within the school. One way we could do this was to create a multi-activity play area.
“We’re made up with the end product. It tackles so many muscle groups in a fun way. The children don’t realise they’re having a work out at all.”
Rhun Lloyd, who is in year six and chairman of the School Council added:
“We love our new playground, it’s amazing! There are so many activities we can try. It’s fun and helps us to keep fit too. We really enjoyed helping to choose the equipment and the locations.”
Gerallt was delighted to receive the seal of approval from former pupil and footballing hero Owain Fon Williams.
“It’s fabulous that Owain is genuinely excited about the new playground at his former school,” he said.
“When he finished in the Euro Championships, he came back to the school and donated three shirts for our auction. He’s still really close to the village and it’s fantastic to receive his support as a sportsman and a role model for the pupils.”
Gerallt, who has worked at the school for the past two years, congratulated staff, pupils and their families for pulling together to secure the grant funding.
“Everyone in the community from friends, parents and family members visited Tesco stores to vote for us,” he said.
“Staff and parents put it out on Facebook so people voted for us. In the end, we won the maximum grant of £12,000.”
The school’s new facility is so popular that teachers are currently in the process of timetabling break times to accommodate the 206 pupils at different times.