New seaside adventure zone gives poorly patients space to play

Frowns on the faces of poorly children will soon be turned upside down as a brand new, state-of-the-art adventure play zone is officially unveiled at the Great Western Hospital.

For years, young patients at the Swindon hospital have had to make do with an outdated play area that lacked the colour, equipment and imagination needed to help them forget about their illness.

But thanks to Brighter Futures’ successful Space for Play Appeal, which saw local people come together to raise tens of thousands of pounds, the once tired courtyard has been transformed into a vibrant seaside scene, complete with its own shipwreck climbing frame.

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As well as playing pirates on the ship, youngsters will be able to pilot a yellow submarine, ride the dolphin balance board and get to grips with the windsurfer seesaw, all while mum and dad keep watch from the new shaded seating area.

Classic playground staples such as hopscotch and noughts and crosses are also present, along with a roundabout, spring rocker and hide-and-seek tunnel for the more adventurous shipmates.

Catherine Newman, Head of Brighter Futures, said: “Our Space for Play Appeal really struck a chord with local people and, because of their overwhelming generosity, we were able to smash our £84,000 target and take our grand total all the way to six figures.

“This play area is something we’ve been keen to bring to the Children’s Unit for many years and, now that it’s finally here, we can’t wait to see the difference it will make to so many children and their families.”

As well as providing respite to patients, the new seaside area has been designed to provide parents with an outside space for quiet reflection, while also helping siblings fend off boredom during long visits to the hospital.

Teresa Harding, Women’s and Children’s Divisional Director, said: “Play is an important part of every child’s recovery.

“Not only does it help to take their mind off what’s going on around them, but it also helps to stimulate their body and mind, which has often been shown to improve recovery time.

“A lengthy stay in hospital can be particularly upsetting for children as it means missing out on valuable social time with school friends and family members but, with this new playground, we can hopefully keep their spirits high and help them to stay positive until they’re able to return home.”

The playground, which is adjacent to the Children’s Unit on the second floor of the Great Western Hospital, will be officially opened during a special gathering of staff, families and fundraisers on Wednesday 5 July.

After the ribbon cutting, crowds will be able to tour the new play area before enjoying a short performance by the Great Western Harmony choir.

For more information on the new play area, visit www.brighterfuturesgwh.nhs.uk.