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A playground destroyed by arsonists rises from the ashes

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Community and executive committee members of the Pig’s Field Family Connection officially opened the new playground following a suspected arson attack that destroyed the one previously at the site (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A playground that was burnt to the ground almost two years ago has been replaced with brand new equipment – and plans are afoot to create a community hub at the site.

Members of Pig’s Field Family Connection, a group of community and executive committee members, who have made the dream of restoring the playground a reality, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pig’s Field Playground off Band Room Lane, Pembroke on Saturday morning.

Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, one of the driving forces behind the restoration project, said: “I am so overwhelmed to see what has happened – the playground is actually here.

“As a community, we stuck together, It’s not just the community, it’s government, it’s the corporate community, it’s individuals – we all worked together, we brought about change and made a difference. If we get back to that we will be able to solve so many problems in Bermuda.”

Pig’s Field Playground was completely destroyed in a suspected arson attack on April 10, 2021. Work started almost immediately to replace it and the Pig’s Field Family Connection was launched as a charity to raise funds for the project.

Pig’s Field Playground aftermath in 2021 (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The opening ceremony was attended by Rydell Paynter, president of the Pig’s Field Family Connection; Ms O’Connor-Paynter, who is assistant secretary and public relations officer; Kevin Grant, assistant president; Irvin Ingram, treasurer; Carla Martin, assistant treasurer; Quincy Paynter, secretary; and Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, Deputy Premier and member of the executive committee.

Families with young children joined the gathering as well as two Gombey Dancers to help celebrate the occasion.

The Reverend Rodney Grimes Sr, associate pastor of Heard Chapel AME Church, Pembroke, opened the ceremony with a prayer and Mr Paynter gave a brief address.

Mr Paynter said: “We had a tragic event happen on these particular grounds almost two years – it was April 10 when the playground was burnt to the ground. The community came together and decided that we had to do something, make sure that we put at least the playground back.

“It was definitely a group effort and we made sure that, every step of the way, we included the community, we included the children in picking out the playground, the set up and the colour scheme, and even the logo for Pig’s Field Family Connection.

“On Monday, we were doing some final preparations and it was so heartening to see North Village playing netball and the Gombeys training. It is good to see the vibrancy of the community coming back. We want to make sure that his ground is a community resource, we have a lot of good plans.

“With phase two we are looking at security lighting, security cameras, more benches, we will upgrade the swing set, we are going to put up exercise equipment and we want to hold events.

“This is going to be a bubbling pot and a safe place for everybody. We want this to not only be for the youth but we want to honour our forefathers and the elders in the community. This site was originally set up by the North Village Trust and they put the original playground here.”

Phyllis Forbes, a senior citizen who was commended for always keeping the best interests of the site and community at heart, was one of those original members and was charged with cutting the ribbon.

Ms Forbes told The Royal Gazette: “I am very pleased. I was brought up here, I consider it my backyard.

“When my sons came to me and told me the playground equipment was on fire I couldn’t believe it, I really couldn’t. It was pretty traumatic.

“We want more people to buy into this and realise this is for us, this is for our children and the ones not yet here, this is a place they can come to and enjoy.”

The Pig’s Field Family Connection has renewed its charity status and needs to raise a few more funds to complete the rest of the project.

Mr Paynter wished to thank all the community members who have helped so far as well as sponsors and those assisting, including Aspen Bermuda; the Gibbons family; Everen Management Services; Jim Butterfield; the Buchanan Programme at Orbis Investments; Theresa Andrade; Chubb Bermuda Insurance; the Department of Parks; and Horsfield Excavating & Landscaping.

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Published March 27, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated March 27, 2023 at 7:50 am)

A playground destroyed by arsonists rises from the ashes

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