UK

Prince launches jubilee project to save playing fields

Children playing football on a field
Image caption The prince says thousands of playing fields have been lost to development

Prince William has launched a project to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee by saving hundreds of playing fields.

The aim is to create or preserve 2,012 open spaces by 2012, the year the queen celebrates 60 years on the throne.

The prince said he hoped the parks across the UK - to be named after his grandmother - would reflect her legacy.

"I sincerely hope that these fields will become a living reminder to all of the Queen's steadfast duty, dedication and love for this country," he said.

'No luxury'

Fields in Trust, which is running the project, says a report from last month indicated that 6,000 playing fields have been lost since 1992.

The prince said: "Playing fields are not a luxury. They are a vital component of any healthy and happy community.

"The sad truth is that over the years thousands of playing fields have been lost to development, and many more are under threat today.

"For more than 80 years, the Fields in Trust charity has been working hard to combat this threat by protecting playing fields across the UK from development.

"There has never been greater need for their work."

The project, called the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge, is the first major initiative in honour of the Queen's jubilee to involve a member of the royal family.

The prince's private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton said William's patronage was a personal tribute to his grandmother.

The prince also said the project was particularly relevant given that it coincides with the 2012 London Olympics.

"The Games will herald a decade of major sporting events to be held in the United Kingdom," he said.

"The question is where will our sporting stars of the future come from if we continue to lose access to these important grassroots facilities."

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "What better way to mark both the diamond jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics than by ensuring future generations will have access to space for sport and play."

Alison Moore Gwyn, chief executive of Fields in Trust, said: "Access to these facilities is vital to ensuring our communities are robust and healthy - a health that is achieved not just through participating in physical activity but, equally importantly, by providing a sense of community cohesion."

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