Acklings sports field in Long Wittenham is back in action again ten years after play equipment was wrecked by vandals. It has taken on a new lease of life thanks to money from the Big Lottery and the Parish Council. The lottery pumped in nearly £10,000 and the council contributed £2,800.
The playing field has two concrete areas, one for basketball and the other for cricket. There is a five-a-side football pitch with goal posts secured into the ground.
The sports field was opened on July 17 with football games, cricket and basketball sessions. Council chairman Tom Bowtell said: This is a wonderful facility for young people and I hope they will make use of it. A lot of time, money and effort have gone into re-opening Acklings.
Builder Mark Bannister repaired the picnic bench. Nets for the football goals are stored by Tom Bowtell at West End Cottage (tel. 407261). Acklings is a dog-free play area. There is no parking facility and users are urged to walk and not park in the narrow road or in the nearby mobile homes park
The council hopes that youngsters who play ball games on the green in Saxons Heath will use Acklings instead because there have been complains from some residents about noise and nuisance. The council is considering banning balls games from the green but no decision will be taken until residents have been asked for their views.
Acklings can trace its origins to the late 1980s when a fund raising committee was formed to provide a village play area. Swings and an adventure trail were installed. Later additions included more swings, a slide, wood cabin, a sand pit and a wooden fort that cost £3,000.
In 1995 the council took over ownership and pay an annual rent to St Johns College which owns large tracts of land in and around Long Wittenham. But ten years ago play equipment was mis-used by older children and then vandals moved in wrecking equipment and setting fire to the fort.