Newmarket's racing industry weighs in with £50,000 for play area
Newmarket’s refurbished memorial hall gardens play area is on schedule for an official opening on Friday April 5.
And the project, which this week received a £50,000 boost through a donation from the town’s racing industry, namely the Jockey Club, Tattersalls, the Newmarket Open Weekend and champion trainer John Gosden, will include what is believed to be a world’s first.
A special sensory wall, which is being designed by specialist Mike Ayres, is thought to be the first such exterior project of its kind.
It will be installed with a canopy in the area seen in the top, left of centre in this photograph and will be of particular benefit to youngsters with special needs.
Mr Ayres, whose company is based at Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, and who is a professional designer with 30 years’ experience in creating equipment and environments for people with special needs, said: “There probably isn’t anything like it anywhere in the world. It’s a first.”
He said it would be installed on the wall which is six and a half metres long and and two and a half metres high and the design would be based on a countryside theme, reminiscent of the scenery around Newmarket.
It will feature a range of light panels which change colour and make noises with buttons to change the games which can be played on it.
“It will be incredibly robust as it has to be being outside,” said Mr Ayres, “but the whole thing will be incredibly tactile with lots of different textures and interactive games which will range from simple to intellectually challenging.”
He said it would be suitable for any age and ‘incredibly inclusive’ to suit children who may have very little movement who would be able to reach and touch it to very energetic youngsters who can run up and down while touching it.
“We are in the very early stages of creating the wall but it’s a very exciting project to be working on,” said Mr Ayres.
The refurbished play area will also include a new water feature, which can be seen bottom right, a zip wire, a feature castle, nets and slides.