Soft play fees scheme will protect kids

A GARDEN centre near Morpeth is teaming up with others across the country to help bring in vital funds for vulnerable children and families.

Heighley Gate started charging entry to its restaurant’s play area last October as part of a national initiative by the Garden Centre Group to raise £250,000 by this September for the NSPCC.

All the centres have collected a total of more than £190,000 so far, with over £5,000 coming from customers at the branch in Northumberland.

Heighley Gate manager Roger Wale said: “We are thrilled to have collected this amount for such a worthwhile charity and are delighted to have had such a positive response from our customers.”

Entry to the group’s play areas is £1.50 per child, with 50p going to the NSPCC.

The charity will use the money to protect children through its products and services including ChildLine – a free, confidential 24-hour helpline and online service for children and young people in distress or danger.

Its North East corporate fund-raising manager, Janet Richardson, said: “The support given by Heighley Gate and the Garden Centre Group for our charity has been tremendous.

“Keeping children safe from harm and abuse is at the heart of what we do and we want to take this opportunity to thank people in Northumberland for supporting this new initiative.”

The play area at Heighley Gate is open seven days a week for children up to the age of eight.

It includes slides, soft play shapes and climbing steps to keep youngsters entertained.