PROUD Pegswood showed off the best of its community work as it welcomed a special visitor.
The Duchess of Northumberland was invited to the village this week to take a tour of the Pegswood Community Project, open the new pavilion in the Welfare Park and view the neighbouring play park.
Her Grace also took time out from sight-seeing to present a Meritorious Service award to long-serving volunteer Mary Henderson.
The visit was arranged by county and parish councillor David Woodard.
He said: “When I was Chairman of the County Council I often talked to the Duchess about the play area and the community project and she said she would love to come along and see them so that’s what the visit was all about.”
First stop was the Pegswood Community Project, which provides a range of activities throughout the week from its base in Longhirst Road.
The centre mainly caters for families, with after school clubs, parent and toddler sessions and baby groups, but there is also an over 50s keep-fit class, healthy lunches, a quilting group, UK Online services, pilates and craft sessions, among other interests.
The Duchess was welcomed to the facility on Tuesday by Northumberland County Council Chairman George Todd, Pegswood Parish Council Chairman Simon Willcox and Mrs Henderson, before she was shown around the building and introduced to some of its users and helpers.
She chatted to them about the various activities at the centre and was presented with a handmade card from the baby group.
Coun Willcox said: “Words can’t describe how we feel about the Duchess coming here. To have someone like that come here and do what she has done is a privilege, I can’t think of any words to describe it.
“The Community Project is extremely important to the village. It is undergoing a series of severe financial cuts from a lot of sources so the parish council has been very supportive of the project in funding it.
“It is so important to the village to keep it going because of the variety of activities it offers, from babies to teenagers and older people, there are different things to suit them.”
After her tour of the centre, Her Grace moved on to the Welfare Park to cut the ribbon on the new pavilion, which has been funded by the Football Foundation, with support from Northumberland County Council, and will be passed on to the parish authority to manage as part of the transfer of local services.
The adjoining play area, including a slide, grass mound, rope climbing frame, basket swing and rope swing, has recently been created with funding through the Government’s Playbuilder scheme, while the parish council is paying for a second phase to make dry river beds with sand pits, tunnels and other activities for younger children.
Coun Willcox said: “I am not aware of anyone who has said anything negative about the play park.
“People were using it the day the builders moved off site, it is just a great thing to have in the village.
“I have been on the parish council for six years and when I look back on the annual statements and see what we have done, we have come on tremendously in what we do for the village.”
Her Grace was greeted at the site by pupils from Pegswood First School, who have made posters for the park, warning people not to vandalise it, not to drop litter and not to talk to strangers, among other messages.
Some of the designs will be made into signs and the winners and runners-up in the poster competition have received certificates and gift vouchers. The Duchess presented the prizes to those pupils attending the pavilion opening.
Headteacher Gillian Philip said: “The children have thoroughly enjoyed making the posters.
“We have already got signs in the village for the roads and for the children to have their own signs in the park as well is great. They are really proud of them.”
The Duchess said she was impressed with the high standard of facilities she had seen in the village and praised the strong community spirit.
“I think it is all wonderful,” she said.
“I’m very impressed with the play area in particular. It is everything we need to be doing to encourage children to be active outdoors, which is everything I’m trying to achieve in the Alnwick Garden. It is really good to see play equipment of such good quality.
“I’m so impressed by the sense of community in Pegswood. Everything I have seen shows that people are working together for the good of their community, which is really uplifting.”