Community fights council plans and raises over £6,000 for Bingham Park

A Sheffield community group has raised over £6,000 to revitalise a park with new facilities.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 9:46 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 9:47 am
Alice and Phoebe baking fundraiser

Members of the Bingham Park Community Group, who started fundraising in March, have made progress towards their £20,000 goal, as they challenge the city council’s decision to demolish existing tennis courts.

They hope the money raised will pay for new basketball and netball spaces, as well as a mini skateboard, scooter and cycle track for children.

Linda Sibley 79, founder of the group, said: “I saw a notice from the council in 2016, saying they were going to destroy the tennis courts and just grass it over. That really upset me – there’s not very much that upsets me but that did – because they gave me the reason that it was underused.

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Alex and Oliver with the birdhouse they made with their dad

“In reality, it had been left to go derelict. They’d not looked after it properly and people were still using it. There were still locals trying to play tennis with a net that was drooping in the middle, and there were no lines or anything like that.

“I got in touch with the council and said, ‘well I don’t believe this is right’, but they told me it was more or less set in stone and so that was it – I started this group.”

Ever since, Ms Sibley and a team of volunteers have been campaigning to stop the council’s plans, with fundraising taking off earlier this year thanks to an army of young helpers.

She continued: “The first phase was me opening my mouth and getting the thing started, but I must admit most of the younger people have done all the brain work with all the paperwork and things like that.

Millie holding up posters

“They took it upon themselves to start fundraising and I’m so bemused by it all. It’s absolutely fantastic and I would never have dreamed we would’ve got this far with it all, honestly.

“To raise £6,000 is beyond my wildest dreams. I couldn’t imagine – bearing in mind I’ve always done fundraising with the duck race – we could ever reach that. Everyone has been absolutely brilliant.

“I worry a little bit that perhaps we won’t reach our £20,000 target, but it’s not for the want of trying. People getting out there and mentioning it is great, especially with the time we’re living in, as we’ve obviously not been able to have any meetings, and all this has been done over the internet.

“I’m 79, so I don’t find it easy to be honest. I’m getting there, but it’s not really my era. My part has always been talking to people in the park and letting them know we’re doing this fundraising.”

The Bingham Park Community Group charity comes under the umbrella of another local group, Friends of Porter Valley. They have worked in collaboration and Ms Sibley said the mutual support has been fantastic.

She spoke of the wondrous impact redeveloping the area would have on the Greystones community, including herself, as she often watches young people in the park when she walks her dog.

She said: “We knew that Bingham Park was of such value to all kinds of people, but it is lovely that we are now thinking of including netballers, basketballers and skateboarders.

“The young lads – they’ve been brilliant in helping to keep the area tidy. I’m not sure whether we’ll get anywhere with the skateboarding, as it takes up such a lot of money to set something up like that, but for their sakes, I do hope it is included because we’re reliant on these young people to take our community forward.

“If you can give them something to aim for, that’s all it takes. It’s down to all the young members that have come onboard. I’ve cheered them on and spread the word as best as I can, but they’ve done the legwork and I really appreciate all the hard work they’ve done, especially when they’re working and looking after their families too – it’s not easy.

“It’s simpler for me as I’m retired. I don’t have to juggle things as much as the young ones do, so I’m really appreciative of all that’s been done. I just hope we do see the courts being improved and made into places to play netball and basketball.”

Although Ms Sibley is proud of what the group has raised so far, she is calling for even more donations from the public, emphasising ‘every penny counts’, just as she was told as a child.

She said: “If we could reach the £20,000, oh, I’d love it. It would be absolutely out of this world because we’re such a small group and everyone’s done so well.

“This last year has shown just how invaluable that area is for the parents with small children. They don’t have to drag them down to Endcliffe Park where you have to climb back up the hill again to get to Greystones with a pushchair, bike, or a dog on a lead.

“The park’s invaluable because we live on such a hilly part of the city where there’s nowhere for children to safely ride their scooters, and to be able to take them down there – it’s ideal.”

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