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Wheelchair swing installed on Picket Twenty development

A special wheelchair swing has been installed at Picket Twenty, inspired by a local child.

The accessible equipment will enable disabled people on the development to enjoy the play area alongside other children and is the result of teamwork between Picket Twenty residents, housebuilder Persimmon Homes and Test Valley Borough Council.

The project was initiated by Leanne Coole, who explains: “During lockdown my daughter Ava missed going to the park and it was hard explaining to a four-year-old why she couldn’t use the playground.

“She was completely thrilled when our local play area re-opened, and it suddenly struck me that there are lots of children who every day must look at playgrounds and not be able to use them because they are not accessible.

“It made me really sad to think that many children can’t do something so simple and fun, that the rest of us take for granted.”

Leanne posted a message on the Picket Twenty Facebook group, asking if the community would help her raise funds for a swing that could be used by people in wheelchairs, which was seen by resident Darren Richens.

He said: “I saw Leanne’s post and it really touched my heart. I have two boys with autism but even I had not considered how limited the play opportunities were for some children.

“I reached out to Persimmon directly as I know, as a business, they want to take customers’ feedback seriously. All credit to Persimmon, the company agreed to fund it and worked with the council to arrange the planning and installation.

“I would like to personally thank the Persimmon team for their kindness and support to the Picket Twenty community.”

Persimmon Homes South Coast managing director Joe Lindsay said: “Creating a new homes development is not only a case of constructing houses. Ensuring we help to build sustainable communities is also a key factor – providing the facilities people need for a happy, healthy life in their new home.

“When we received the request from Darren to support Leanne’s project, we immediately saw how valuable this swing would be for local wheelchair users – and were happy to provide the funds needed to get it installed.

“We are grateful to Test Valley Borough Council for their support and co-operation, helping us to deliver this facility for our Picket Twenty residents.”

Councillor Chris Donnelly added: “I’m grateful to Leanne and Darren for suggesting this fantastic addition to our play park, and to Persimmon Homes for financing it. It will be great to have a play area where all children in the community can come together and enjoy.

“This suggestion from one of our community has encouraged us to think more carefully about how we make our play areas inclusive for all children across Test Valley, and I hope that this will be the first of many new accessible features.”

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