Schoolgirl's appeal for Heath play area fundraising push

Olivia White, 10, has been selling homemade jam to improve the playground at Hampstead Heath

Olivia White, 10, has been selling homemade jam to improve the playground on the Hampstead Heath Extension - Credit: Olivia White

A schoolgirl is calling for more donors to support her bid to rejuvenate the Hampstead Heath Extension play area.

Last year, Olivia White decided it needed an overhaul so she began fundraising by selling jam made from blackberries she had picked on the Heath.

The 11-year-old began working on plans with the City of London Corporation (CoLC), which manages Hampstead Heath, and a target has been set of £40,000 for the project. 

Olivia said about £13,000 remains to be raised. 

She said: “I feel very proud of myself, and I’m not even going to benefit from this but my brother and others his age will.”

Olivia consulted with neighbours and the City of London Corporation to design a concept adventure playground with the help of a landscape architect. 

Mum Elizabeth Deheza said: “She wants to give the playground a makeover because it’s in a horrible state, considering that the area is so well kept.”

Olivia attended meetings with the CoLC’s Hampstead Heath Committee, including giving a presentation at their annual gathering. 

“I was there by myself in front of all these people, some of them not interested, some of them willing to help, but when I stood up there and got handed the microphone the whole room went silent,” said Olivia.

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Emma Howard, chair of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association, said: "We were delighted that Olivia White spoke eloquently at our recent AGM about the need to upgrade the playground and received resounding applause from those present.  

"The residents' association has pledged £10,000 towards the project, and has also secured £7,500 from a special fund which the City runs for helping community groups. We have also received a further £4,000 from a generous local donor and another donor has promised to match donations made by local residents up to a total of £5,000 so I believe we are well on the way to helping Olivia reach the target of £40,000 by the end of May. We will be doing a further final push on raising funds in the next few weeks."

Olivia has raised about £2,500 through sales jam through Wildwooders and this year she added apple jam to her sustainable enterprise: “Everybody loves them."

The CoCL, which was contacted for comment, has set up a fundraising page for the play area.

Visit www.wildwooders.uk to find out how to help Olivia.