New natural playground at Chapelton honours memory of local mountaineer

A natural playground, designed to offer youngsters fun, creative and unstructured play, was officially unveiled on Thursday, May 26, at Chapelton by the family of renowned climber, mountaineer, doctor and writer Tom Patey.

By Morag Kuc
Monday, 30th May 2022, 4:49 pm
Tom’s son Ian Patey (centre), Ian’s wife Jennifer (left) and their daughter Megan, who unveiled the memorial plaque, with some of the children from Newtonhill Primary School in the background.
Tom’s son Ian Patey (centre), Ian’s wife Jennifer (left) and their daughter Megan, who unveiled the memorial plaque, with some of the children from Newtonhill Primary School in the background.

Patey Park, which has taken more than two years to build, is set within a natural environment on the top of Cairnhill in the heart of the Chapelton development, and features a range of natural elements designed to encourage imaginative play.

A series of winding paths takes young adventurers on a journey over mounds and slopes, rocks and boulders, logs, tree stumps, and balance beams. There are also conversation areas, art features and swings.

The opening ceremony was attended by Tom’s son Ian Patey, Ian’s wife Jennifer and their daughter Megan, as well as local school children and Scout groups.

The Duchess of Fife, Director of Elsick Development Company, which is leading the build of Chapelton, said: “It means a lot to us that Tom’s family have been able to be here today. Tom was a brilliant and inspiring mountaineer from the local area, and he was an advocate for children embracing outdoor adventures and testing their limits through exploration and play. We hope this play area will be a fitting legacy to his feats.

“The entire ethos behind the playground is to encourage nature-based group play, which helps to encourage the development of motor, sensory and social skills. The design of the playground differs from other play areas since the topography is challenging, making it fun and natural. We are planning to add more equipment at a later date, and it is hoped that we will also have a zip line. There are areas that have been made into bases with flags that can be used in group games, and there are little natural areas where the youngsters can sit and have a natter.”

Jane Wallis, an Early Years Senior Practitioner at Newtonhill Primary School, which is attended by children from Chapelton, welcomed the new playground, stating: “By exploring natural environments, children develop many valuable skills including decision making, problem solving, and risk assessing to name but a few. Developed now, skills like these will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

The construction of the playground was held up by a number of challenges and setbacks, including the pandemic and Storm Arwen, which struck just as the building work had been finished, knocking out a number of the trees. The storm damage had just been cleared when the next storm struck.