NEWS: Free Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – from 12noon on Saturday 30 March

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Short Heath Fields Trust

A free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields this Saturday (30 March) with local children and families from across the Erdington constituency all invited.

Running between 12noon and 2pm, special festive eggs will be hidden along the hedgerows and sides of Short Heath Playing Fields – which sits in just off Short Heath Road and next to Bleak Hill Park – with each egg carrying an individual pattern.

Children must first hunt for the eggs across the parkland, draw the patterns – to prove they’ve found the eggs, then head back to the Easter Egg Hunt HQ and claim their prize from the Short Heath Easter Bunny.

There will also be an Easter Bonnet Parade held at 1pm, where those attending are invited to show off their festive head gear and decorated Easter hats – with prizes given to the ‘best boy’ and ‘best girl’ in the parade.

The event is totally free, to enter or attend, with no charges for the prizes or anything given to the children for taking part.

Organisers have confirmed the prizes for children will contain chocolate, and there will be a paid for raffle held with more prizes that adults can enjoy.

There will also be a refreshments tent open during the event, run by the Short Heath Wombles – the local community group who litter pick across the park. All money raised with help support future events on the Playing Fields, such as the annual Halloween Pumpkin Hunt which attracts families from Castle Vale to Kingstanding.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust, who took over the management of the parkland in May 2023 after a fiercely fought battle to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ from a Council led housing development, the Easter Egg Hunt is now in its third year.

Run by dedicated volunteers and supported by the local community, the Trust has been responsible for organising many free to attend events on the Playing Fields – whilst also arranging for regular football sessions to be held there every Saturday, run by Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy.

Ahead of the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, a spokesperson from Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) told Erdington Local: “The Easter Egg Hunt is a great event for the kids and their families. SHFT are establishing this free event as a regular for the community’s calendar, as this is our third one.”

They added: “It’s a chance to have some family fun, and with it being free it means it really doesn’t matter what your background is – it’s for everyone to enjoy, especially with money being so tight for so many families at the moment.”

The SHFT free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 30 March, between 12noon and 2pm. For more details, click herE to visit the SHFT Facebook event page.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit: www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – Saturday 19 August

Words & pics by Ed King

A free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day is being held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 19 August, running from 12noon to 4pm – organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Open to children of all ages, organisers are inviting local families to take part in a day a community sports, games, and outdoor activities.

Classic school sports day games will be held – such as three legged, sack, and egg and spoon races –  alongside more contemporary children’s sports, including soft archery and badminton.

All games will be free to enter and take part in, with stalls selling local gifts and refreshments available at The Womble Tea Tent. There will also be a raffle or tombola to help raise money for SHFT – the community group that fought to save, and now manages, the beloved local green space.

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council (BCC) tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

After a long fought battle with BCC, on 8 June this finally year SHFT signed a license agreement giving them official responsibility of the playing fields until 31 May 2024.

Championed for its importance to the local community, used by individuals and families for outdoor and wellbeing activities, the cherished parkland on Short Heath Road has hosted regular events for local residents – including the annual Pumpkin Hunt, which sees hundreds attend from all over the constituency.

With the UK Met Office predicting a comfortably sunny day on Saturday 19 August, event organisers are hoping the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day will offer more local families a chance to enjoy an active day together without breaking the bank.

A spokesperson from SHFT told: “SHFT have always believed that free events for the children of our community are important.

“Crucially, a free event like our Fun School Sports Day will mean all kids can join in and their parents/carers don’t need to pay a penny for it – unlike a visit to a zoo or adventure park.

“It’s all about inclusivity, and every child deserves to have FUN.”

For more on the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day, click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. 

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

FEATURE: “Our very own field of dreams,” FC Elite Academy to deliver football sessions on Short Heath Playing Fields

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King & FC Elite Academy

Sport is set to return to Short Heath Playing Fields, as Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy have teamed up with Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) to deliver a programme of youth football coaching on the beloved green space.

Having secured planning permission to develop their existing home at Twickenham Park into a permanent sports facility and community hub, FC Elite Academy are now looking at Short Heath Playing Fields to train up some of their younger squad members.

The ambitious Kingstanding club are looking to develop their current College Road ground and are currently fundraising for the £70-80k they expect the project to cost – including building a 3G pitch, clubhouse, changing areas, café, on site office, and parking facilities.

Plans for Short Heath Playing Fields, revealed to Erdington Local, show the establishment of four football pitches, five training ‘grids’, a ‘runner’s route’ around the parkland, and an ‘event zone’ at the top end near Short Heath Road.

FC Elite Club Chairman, Mario Gerroni, told: “Football sessions will be taking place on Short Heath Playing Fields in May. FC Elite Academy and Short Heath Fields Trust are forming a new partnership.

“It’s a positive move for everyone involved and I am excited to see the growth of sports from Short Heath Playing Fields, bringing something back to the community.”

Short Heath Road resident, Ifan Stretkesia, added: “This is a good thing, it’s good that we are finally listened to and our children have something they can now do.

“We go to all the events at the (playing) field and my daughter wants to play football. There is nothing for children now, just Xbox. They need to grow strong.”

FC Elite Academy was set up in 2013 by Mr Gerroni, an experienced football coach who previously worked with Aston Villa and trained ‘soccer’ in North America. The club’s website describes its ambitions to ‘continue growing grass roots football in the North of Birmingham.’

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

But following years of fiercely fought campaigning by concerned residents, a recent letter from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, confirmed the site will now only be sold as a ‘sports field’. The letter also confirmed SHFT would be give a 12-month license to manage the site and ‘establish themselves’ as effective landlords.

A report conducted by Birmingham City Council into the viability of using the playing fields for residential development further identified acid grass on the green space, making it harder to continue with their plans for housing. Further environmental concerns were raised by about the wildlife and plant life that would be affected by building on the parkland.

SHFT began talking to FC Elite Academy back in August 2020 about providing football on Short Heath Playing Fields, who were busy working on their planning application for the Twickenham Park site.

Plans to bring sport back to Short Heath Playing Fields, a parkland once used by several local schools for Physical Education, are now moving forward – with the club offering to both set up and maintain the football pitches and start sessions this May.

As part of the deal, all community events organised by SHFT will continue on the playing fields – including the annual Halloween event and Easter Egg Hunt. A special dog walking circuit will also be established, allowing the many local pet owners who use the green space to continue unheeded.

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “Mario from FC Elite becoming SHFT’s sporting partner and bringing football for 4 to 12 years olds back to Short Heath Fields is a community dream true, you might say our very own field of dreams.

“And with a guaranteed one year license from Education (at Birmingham City Council) you know those dreams will become a reality.”

SHFT added: “It’s been a hard fight to save the playing fields. Now it’s the people of Erdington’s chance to get involved and use the playing fields as a sports field again, this is a great opportunity for boys and girls of all ages 4 and up to come and train and take part.

“FC Elite have a proven track record and we are all looking forward to working together in the future.”

For more on FC Elite Academy visit www.fcelite.co.uk and for more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Community up in arms after “hurtful and ugly” vandalism destroys Covid memorial on Bleak Hill Park

Words & pics by Ed King

Local residents and community campaigners are up in arms after a “hurtful and ugly” act of vandalism recently destroyed a Covid memorial garden in Bleak Hill Park.

According to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the action group that fundraised and built the Covid memorial, vandals snapped in half the ornamental cherry trees that stood centre place in the garden – before using the wooden stakes to try and smash the sign welcoming people to the site.

Away from the memorial garden, which is situated along the path cutting through the park from Short Heath Road to Marsh Lane, vandals also damaged a bin for dog mess SHFT had also installed.

Short Heath Fields Trust began building the Covid memorial garden on Bleak Hill Park after having plans approved by Birmingham City Council in March 2021 and securing funding from the National Lottery.

400 trees were further donated by the Woodland Trust, as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ initiative.

Around 6000 bulbs have also been plated at the Bleak Hill Park Covid memorial, including British bluebells, snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils.

However, the community led project has seen challenges since the start – including plants being stolen, and the accidental destruction of 200 trees when ‘Council error’ mowed them down during routine park maintenance.

Local residents have also reported significant litter at the site, including broken booze bottles and drinks cans scattered around the two benches made especially from environmentally friendly recycled plastics.

A spokesperson form SHFT told Erdington Local: “This is a heartbreaking moment for the Trust and its members, many of whom have worked hard on this project.

“The community turned out in all weathers to make this a peaceful but engaging part of the park and a fitting memorial for Erdington people lost to Covid 19.

“This project has hit obstacles at every stage, including the Council mowing down the sapling trees in the area they told us to plant, to the plants being stolen. But this is by far the most hurtful and ugly.

“Local tempers are running high, and people are extremely disgusted at the mindless vandalism and destruction of the ornamental cherry trees in the memorial site and the dog mess bin further in the park.

“Locals are asking questions like ‘why?’ and ‘what possesses anyone to think this is OK?’”

But despite the cruel attack, which has brought widespread condemnation of those responsible, the local community are committed to rebuilding the Covid memorial garden and breathing new life into the project.

One of the four cherry tress remained untouched by the vandals, which residents and campaigners now see as a sign of hope for the community led Covid memorial garden.

A spokesperson for Short Heath Fields Trust added: “One tree remains, but that tree represents the hope and belief that we as a community will overcome and win against the adversity that stands in our way.

“The community will always win.”

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com/

NEWS: Halloween Pumpkin Hunt returns to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 29 October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by SHFT

On Saturday 29 October, Short Heath Playing Fields will see the return of the annual Halloween Pumkin Hunt event – as organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Completely free to attend and open to children (and big kids) of all ages, the SHFT Pumpkin Hunt has become a firm,  fun, and frightening fixture on the local community calendar.

Running from 5m to 8pm, people are invited to take part in the park wide ‘hunt’ – looking for the handmade ‘pumpkins’ hidden across Short Heath Playing Fields.

Handcrafted by SFHT Chair Estelle Murphy and hidden across the playing fields by the committee members and local volunteers that make up SHFT, the illuminated pumpkins each have different Halloween based motifs – such as bats, ghouls, and grinning Jack-o’-lanterns.

People entering the playing fields from Short Heath Road will be asked to find and draw the ten pumpkins hidden across site, which can be exchanged with SHFT event volunteers for a special surprise treat at the end.

Alongside the Pumpkin Hunt, there will be fancy dress competitions for ‘Best Dressed Under Five’, ‘Best Dressed Boy’, ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and ‘Best Dressed Adult’ – as well a pound entry raffle, and an array of stalls selling hot chocolate, sweets, bath bombs, scents, and other fancy goods.

There will also be a mystery haunted tunnel, where those that dare can enter and face the ghoulish surprises inside… suitable for all ages, but with adult supervision advised for younger children.

Organisers also suggest people attending should bring their own torch and a sturdy pair of shoes suitable for walking across parkland in the dark.

Following on from the success of the past two years, the SHFT Halloween Pumkin Hunt on Short Heath playing fields has welcomed hundreds of families – with people coming from Kingstanding to Castle Vale to take park in the now annual event. Situated right on the No28 bus route, Short Heath Playing Fields is accessible across the constituency.

Organised and managed by Short Heath Fields Trust, the popular Pumpkin Hunt is one of the first regular events to be held on the parkland – following a fiercely fought battle to save the green space from development.

In August 2020, a campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ was launched by local residents to challenge Birmingham City Council’s plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Following over two years years of fierce negotiations, the housing development plans were finally scrapped by Birmingham City Council, and SHFT – which became a formally constituted groups from the original campaign group – are currently in talks with the Council about a lease to take over the official management of the site.

Organisers of the Pumpkin Hunt and other events on the playing fields, SHFT have long stated the area should be preserved as a community asset – used for health, wellbeing, community sports, activities, and events.

SHFT Chair Estelle Murphy told Erdington Local: “After the amazing success of the last few years the Pumpkin Hunt is back again. We have seen visitors from Castle Vale all the way through to Kingstanding.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to have some fun outdoors together. We always look forward to seeing friends we have made through previous events and making new ones.

“We have had some amazing fancy dress costumes over the last couple of years and we are looking forward to all the monsters, goblins, and witches we will meet this year.

“Bring a torch if you are coming after dark, but turn it off in the mystery haunted tunnel, if you dare…”

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust Halloween Pumpkin Hunt visit www.facebook.com/events/607795361128944

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com