Marathon grant helps playground scheme cross the finish line

A children’s playground in Grange Park in Old Coulsdon has received a £20,000 grant from the London Marathon, allowing the community-led re-building project to begin work this summer.

A small part of the surplus from staging the London Marathon is helping to build a new playground in Old Coulsdon

A small part of the surplus from staging the London Marathon is helping to build a new playground in Old Coulsdon

Separately from the tens of thousands of individual runners who raise millions for their own chosen charities, the London Marathon Charitable Trust distributes money to sporting causes each year from the surplus made by the event, once they’ve covered their staging costs and paid out millions in appearance fees and prize money to the star runners.

The Trust is making a total of 31 grants to schemes in and around the capital in 2016, worth a total of £2.5million. Of that, £1million is being shared between just two projects, in Ealing and Hounslow.

Eight sports schemes in Surrey – now included in the grants because of the Trust’s involvement with the Ride London cycling event which occupies the county’s roads for a weekend each year – are to receive more than £420,000 between them, plus a £200,000 loan.

Yet Grange Park is the only project in the whole of Croydon, London’s most populated borough, which is receiving any of the London Marathon cash.

That’s slightly better than Sutton, which has no London Marathon-funded schemes in 2016. Bexley has two (worth £40,000) and Bromley two (£120,000) for a variety of causes including new clubhouses and sports equipment, while Lambeth gets £19,800 towards an adventure playground, and Southwark gets £40,000 between two schemes which will equip a boxing club with new toilets and a tennis club with floodlights.

So last century: The playground in Grange Park, Old Coulsdon. Overdue for a revamp

So last century: The playground in Grange Park

The single grant awarded to schemes from Croydon can be seen to demonstrate the council’s failure to assist sports clubs and residents’ associations to tap-in to the relatively generous resources of grant aid money that is available, even in this time of austerity economics and cuts in local authority spending.

Estimates by Sport England following the 2012 London Olympics suggested that there could be grants totalling £1 billion per year available across the country annually for sporting causes, with money coming from government agencies and quangos, from City Hall’s various bodies, or from charities such as the London Marathon.

In Old Coulsdon, the Friends of Grange Park applied for the London Marathon grant, and the money will now be used alongside a £50,000 award from Biffa, the waste management firm, and other fund-raising and means that work can commence soon on upgrading the playground for the first time in 25 years.

In total, the Friends raised £100,000 in just two years.

The Friends of Grane Park asked schoolchildren to submit their ideas for the new playground

The Friends of Grange Park asked schoolchildren to submit their ideas for the new playground

“This is a true grassroots campaign,” said Hannah Price-Harries, the vice-chair of the Friends. “The whole community has united behind the Friends in their ambition to renovate the 25-year-old severely dilapidated playground.

“The community are the architects behind the new design; ideas generated by 150 school-aged children in a ‘design your dream playground’ competition led to an innovative theme based on the local heritage and landscape, including Kenley Airfield and the River Bourne.”

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