IF you go down to the park today you’re sure of a big surprise - colourful cupboards full of toys!

Playboxes have been placed in Winsford Town park and Wharton Recreation Ground to provide children with free toys and games.

The idea is to encourage families to make more use of open spaces.

The boxes include a mixture of equipment such as footballs, badminton sets, frisbees and racquets.

Family games such as giant snakes and ladders and draughts are also available.

The project has been launched by the charity Active Cheshire, which promotes physical activity and sport.

The People’s Postcode Lottery funded the venture.

Hayley Preece, Active Cheshire project management and deliver officer, said: “The purpose is to offer shared toys free for friends and families of all ages.

“All people have to do is visit the website on the side of the playbox and pop their name and email into the system. They will receive a code which unlocks the padlock.”

Children from St Chad’s Primary School came to celebrate the launch in the Town Park on Monday.

Toddlers from Start Well Learning Preschool met active Archie the lion, the Active Cheshire mascot, as the playboxes were unveiled at Wharton Recreation Ground.

The project was inspired by the ethos of a shared bike scheme in China and a successful outdoor toy loan initiative in Canada.

“It builds up community spirit,” said Hayley. “It is based on trust. We want families to know there will always be toys so if the weather is lovely and you don’t have stuff with you , you can help yourself. The spontaneity of things means you can always have fun.

“We appreciate there will be breakages and we have contingency plans.

“We have decorated the boxes in bright vibrant colours. We want to offer a wide variety of toys to different people and families and promote the use of free spaces in the park.”

Asda, Morrisons, New Balance and Decathlon have donated toys and Northwich Lidl provided healthy snacks for the launches.

The Mayor of Winsford Cllr Gina Lewis said: “It is a really good idea. I hope people use it and use it well.

“It adds to all the other facilities in the Town Park.”

Families can donate toys in good condition.

Active Cheshire wishes to thank Winsford Town Council for their support.