FENLANDER: “Mini Mites” at Hudson Leisure Centre proves popular - and it’s coming soon to Whittlesey

UP the ladder, through the tunnel, down the slide and into the ball pool - round and round they go, up and down... The noise is deafening, the fun infectious; the children are loving it and so are the adults.

Welcome to “Mini Mites”, a regular, hour-long session for 1-4 year-olds that takes place every Friday morning in the new soft play area at the Hudson Leisure Centre in Wisbech. It is supervised by a qualified play leader.

Busy Bodies Soft Play is the latest innovation at the Hudson and it’s coming soon to the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey, too.

In introducing it at both places, Fenland District Council’s aim is clear: first, to provide more, much-needed activities for younger children and inspire them to go on to other forms of sport and leisure; and second, to encourage the accompanying parents or carers to make use of the other facilities themselves.

It’s good for health and good economics, insists Councillor Steve Garratt, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for health and young people.

“Soft play fits perfectly in a community leisure centre,” he said. “Play is simply children being active and it leads on to all sorts of other things.

“If they enjoy soft play, they’re likely to take up other activities like swimming or running or gym work as they grow up.

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“Promoting healthy lifestyles is one of our key priorities as a council and these new facilities will definitely help us with that.

“They’re also important economically: they make the best use of available space and will undoubtedly bring more people in – indeed, we’re seeing that already.”

The Hudson’s soft play area is open all the time but children must be accompanied by an adult. Up to 50 people can use it at any one time and it is linked to a self-service cafe providing tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks.

Soft play has been running there for three weeks. Leisure services manager Phil O’Neill said: “We’ve already seen more than 150 people access the soft play, which is fantastic.

“It’s great to see the kids having fun and letting off steam while at the same time the parents can relax knowing their children are safe.

“Mini Mites is proving exceptionally popular, with about 15 children coming along every week. We’re looking to introduce a number of other similar activities in the forthcoming months.”

The soft play area is also available for party bookings and private hire. For details, contact the Hudson reception team on 01945 584230.

It is hoped that the equipment will be available at the Manor within a couple of months.