Mayor and Olympians at park opening ceremony in Stone


Stafford Borough Mayor, Olympians Joe Clarke and Adam Burgess

The Mayor of Stafford Borough was joined by Olympic gold medallist, Joe Clarke, as they officially opened Westbridge Park in Stone after its £1.5m transformation.

The chilly April weather did not deter hundreds of residents and visitors pouring into the park as Councillor Cooper and the Rio 2016 champ Clarke - along with fellow Olympian paddler Adam Burgess and international canoeist, Chris Bowers - signalled the start of a day of entertainment and activities at the weekend.

The Stafford Borough Council development has already proved a hugely popular attraction having been completed at the end of last year with new play equipment, zip wire, wheeled sports facility and multi-use games area (MUGA) - as well as a woodland play area, sunken garden, toilets and enhanced footpaths and landscaping.

The park is also home to the world-renowned Stafford and Stone Canoe Club, which has produced national, European and world champions, and as part of the opening event they ran a 619km ‘paddle to Paris’ challenge - which is the distance from their club to the Olympic canoe slalom venue in France.

The other activities on the day included: Stone Scout and Guide Band performing shortly after Councillor Cooper had started proceedings at around 10.30am, more than 200 people tried their hand at squash in the MUGA as part of a taster session run by Staffordshire Squash, there were long queues for face painting, a caricaturist drew portraits for visitors in the sunken garden, a ‘Skate Jam’ took place from 12 noon in the wheeled sports bowl, with music throughout the event provided by Vibe 1 - formally Stafford FM.

Councillor Cooper said: “It has been a privilege going to many developments that have been taking place throughout the borough during the last 12 months - and this one is just fantastic.

“It was great to see so many people enjoying the facilities and taking part in all the activities, visiting the stalls, and enjoying the music throughout the day. It was especially nice to see lots and lots of children having a great time - whether on the play equipment, on bikes and skateboards in the wheeled sports bowl, having their face painted or enjoying trying out squash in the MUGA.”

The play park is significantly larger than the previous site and includes a range of equipment for all ages - including tower and tube slide, integrated mini trampoline, boulder scramble, tyre swing, and climbing blocks. The double zip wire has a more than 30 metre run and the MUGA can be used for five-a-side football, basketball and tennis.

Clarke, Burgess and Bowers all said it had been a great transformation of the park and hoped that more youngsters and visitors to the area would be encouraged to try out canoeing at the famous club.

Having triumphed in the K1 event in Rio 2016 Clarke was granted Freedom of the Borough - by Stafford Borough Council - and awarded an MBE the following year for services to canoeing. Burgess, represented Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 games and missed out on a medal by a fraction of a second and Chris Bowers has won gold, silver and bronze medals over many years competing on the international stage.

Clarke and Burgess will be looking to add to their medal collections at the Paris games later this year.

Press Release No 6119


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