After more than 2 years of hard work, Aston & Cote Summer Fete (held on 22 June) was the perfect event for Aston & Cote Community Trust to celebrate the opening of a new playground for the young children of the village. The playground has replaced a play area that was nearly 30 years old, and on Saturday, it welcomed dozens of youngsters to try out the new equipment for the first time.

For Paul Farrow, Group Communications Director at Oxford PharmaGenesis and lead fundraiser on the project, there was great satisfaction in knowing that his research, communications and grant-writing experience gained from a career in medical communications had helped with pulling the project together.

The opening ceremony, which was kindly sponsored by Mears New Homes (Foxwood Grove development, Aston), welcomed the many supporters to witness the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon by James Hook of P.D. Hook (Hatcheries) Ltd, one of several generous local companies that backed the project. In all, the playground was sponsored by more than 20 different organizations, including local charities Bampton Welfare Trust, Bampton Village Community Shop and Witney Round Table, as well as many community groups. Members of the Aston & Cote Community Trust were joined in a toast by Robert Courts MP and by sponsors from local councils, all of whom had provided significant financial support.

Financial support from Oxford PharmaGenesis was also instrumental to the success of the project. Paul thanked the company for being the first to donate: From this, our fundraising snowballed, and we raised more than £55 000 to replace the playground. Knowing that Oxford PharmaGenesis makes matched funds available to its employees also drove me on to complete my personal fitness challenge, raising more money for the project. Thank you to my amazing colleagues who supported our cause.

Carolyn Simmonds, Chairwoman of Aston & Cote Community Trust, was proud to see her plan come to life: “Thanks to everyone involved, we will finally have great facilities in the village for our younger children, including for those with disabilities.”

Paul added: “We know that playgrounds are one of the best ways of increasing children’s levels of physical activity and we are sure that the new playground will also help with their social development and emotional well-being. My daughters can’t wait to try it out!”

With blue skies, great music, fun activities and stalls, this year’s village fete was a huge success, raising funds to add the finishing touches to the new playground and to support Aston & Cote Church of England Primary School and Aston Youth Football Club. A fantastic day was had by all!

Aston & Cote Fete
Left to right: Paul Farrow (Oxford PharmaGenesis Ltd), James Hook (P.D. Hook [Hatcheries] Ltd), Robert Courts MP, Cllr Charles Mathew (Oxfordshire County Council), Cllr Hilary Fenton (West Oxfordshire District Council) and Steve Neal (Aston & Cote Community Trust) celebrate the opening of the new playground.