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Duthie Park play area voted best in Scotland
Duthie Park's new play area has been voted the best in the whole of Scotland.
The play park has lifted the Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Play, the most prestigious award presented at the Nancy Ovens Awards 2013, together with a bronze plaque for erecting in the play area, organised by the Nancy Ovens Trust.
The play park was funded through the generosity of the late Lorna Doreen Russell who bequeathed £834,000 to the park. She died in April 2009, making the City Council a beneficiary of her estate for the purpose of "extending, improving or otherwise refurbishing that part of the Duthie Park known as the Winter Gardens or providing further facilities at the park".
The £200,000 play park was built using part of her bequest to Duthie Park, which has seen the recent completion of a £5.38 million restoration funded by Aberdeen City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The bespoke play park, which was officially opened this Easter, was designed by Midlothian and Hampshire-based Russell Play specifically for the site, with the company invited to design and build a natural play area that would be an attraction and boost visitor numbers.
The design brief required the creation of a large bespoke family play space, where children were free to enjoy themselves and do as they wish without adult control or where children of all abilities, parent and carers could, if they choose play together in a safe environment.
The design had to include a number of large 'statement pieces' promoting imaginative play and possessing a strong aesthetic quality, incorporating existing site features and use of natural materials where possible, helping to enhance and preserve the site's mature trees.
Designer Chris Wellwood, of Russell Play, said: "The choice of material and colour are sympathetic to the site and create an overall space which is popular with the council and members of the public. We targeted some items specifically for the toddler age range, which would help them develop both physically and mentally. The landscape was used to define our layout and the paths created access routes to all the equipment, giving the area a distinctive shape."
Housing and Environment Committee convener Councillor Neil Cooney said: "The new play area is absolutely superb and a worthy winner of this prestigious award. Full credit is due to the Housing and Environment, Design and Development team of officers and the imaginative designers from Russell Play. They have created a play area which is a wonderful added attraction in the park, which is proving hugely popular with children and families."
The Nancy Ovens Play Awards were launched in 2004 to recognise individuals, community groups, local authorities and others who have created top quality outdoor play spaces. Nancy Ovens campaigned for over 40 years to improve play and youth work opportunities for children and young people across Scotland, the UK and internationally.
In making the award, the judges took account of:
involvement by children and young people in the design and management of the play space;
a sympathetic response to the existing environment;
the provision of imaginative play experiences;
easy accessibility and compliance with disability discrimination legislation.
The Trustees involve children in the final decisions about who should receive the play awards.
Duthie Park is one of the most popular parks in Scotland, with over three-quarters of a million visitors a year. It was bequeathed to the city by Miss Elizabeth Crombie Duthie and was opened in 1883 by Princess Beatrix.