A place to play for peace

A garden and playground dedicated to peace was yesterday opened by the mother of Warrington bomb victim Tim Parry. Wendy Parry was joined by pop star turned gardener Kim Wilde Kim Wilde (born Kim Smith, November 18, 1960 in Chiswick, West London) is an English pop singer, professional gardener, and pop cultural figure. She debuted in 1981 with the hit “Kids in America”, which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart.  – who helped with the garden’s design – at the Warrington Peace Centre which was built in memory of Tim, 12, and three-year-old Johnathan Ball, who also died in the 1993 IRA blast.

The Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Young People’s Centre was established with the aim of resolving conflict within communities and families. Wendy and Colin Parry, Tim’s father, have been the driving forces behind it.

The peace garden is based on the “All About Alice” design which won the Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal and Best in Show awards at this year’s Tatton Show. It was conceived on the basis that it could be used by children. It was handed over by Countryside Properties and Cheshire Life magazine, who commissioned the garden.

Various items from the Alice in Wonderland design at Tatton also feature at the peace centre, such as the giant wooden teacups and teapot from the Mad Hatter’s tea party, plus the Mad Hatter’s giant wooden hat and the contorted mirrors. Mrs Parry said the garden would prove a huge boost to the peace centre.

She added: “It’s fantastic – the kids are going to get so much pleasure from it. I am so happy that it is here and finished. I wanted a garden and a playground built on the site and when this one was done at Tatton I thought it would be perfect to bring it here.”

As she watched children enjoying the new playground, Mrs Parry said she hoped the start of IRA decommissioning would get the Northern Ireland peace process back on track. She added: “I just hope they do what they say they are going to do. You never know with the IRA – there are so many splinter groups speaking for parts of it.”

Mr Parry welcomed the destruction of IRA weapons, saying: “I am very, very pleased, although it’s long overdue. It’s been waited for and waited for over so many years, it’s nice to see it starting.” He said of the garden: “Previously, it was just a piece of lawn and now it looks a damn sight nicer. It will give the children a chance to burn off some energy.”

David Fountain, landscape director for Countryside Properties and designer and creator of the peace garden with Kim Wilde, said: “It would have broken my heart to see the garden taken apart. I had talked with Wendy Parry about doing a garden here so, as the Alice garden was designed for children, it made sense to incorporate it here.”

Kim Wilde, who was worked on horticultural programmes for the BBC and ITV in recent years, said she could not think of a better place for the garden. She added: “It’s something the kids can interact with, rather than simply gaze at. It has an element of fantasy that you just don’t get out of most playgrounds. People driving past will see the teacups and hopefully will be drawn to come here, which is such a wonderful place. Wendy has shown tenacity and courage to develop things here.”