Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Role Model for Outdoors; Celebrities Are Battling for a Transformation

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Role Model for Outdoors; Celebrities Are Battling for a Transformation

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Tully

BIG Brother presenter Emma Willis dug deep to lay the roots for the revival of a picnic playpark in a Tyne Valley village.

Former model Emma travelled to Ovington, on the banks of the Tyne, to promote a national plan to create bright new outdoor areas.

Ovington is one of 165 places across the country to be selected for the Transform Your Patch scheme.

Tucked in behind the houses with sweeping views of the valley lies overgrown Joiner's Bank, with one dilapidated set of goalposts and three contented sheep who weren't too sure what all the fuss was about.

Emma, 36, is urging people to get out in the fresh air instead of sitting indoors in front of computers and TVs.

And as she planted a tree in the small field overlooking the Tyne Valley she said: "Younger people especially spend a lot of time indoors now.

"But I spent much of my young life outdoors in parks and I think this is a fantastic idea, especially for communities like this. It's so nice to have an outdoor space as beautiful as this."

The regeneration charity Groundwork has teamed up with soft drink brands Britvic and PepsiCo to transform 165 outdoor spaces across the UK, with the support of the public.

The half-acre Joiner's Bank at Ovington, deregulated land left to the village by its owner, is one of only two areas in Northumberland chosen by the organisers - the other is Paddock Wood at Ashington.

But it was Ovington that won the favour of a visit from Emma, and parish councillor Andrew Mate, whose home overlooks the field, said: "This is a real unexpected bonus for us. We had raised pounds 29,000 and now there's the final pounds 5,000 from Britvic.

"We will have willow-deck tunnels, balance beams, and outdoor gym equipment for ages seven to 87. Work will start any day now and should be completed by autumn.

"The local landowner found that the deeds of his house included common land right up to the door of his house. …

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