YOUNGSTERS at a Dudley centre were all smiles after their favourite playground scooped a national award.

The Dudley Council-run Sycamore Adventure Centre took top spot in the Outstanding Playwork Provision category at the Playwork Awards.

The latest accolade for the centre, on Old Park Farm, takes their awards tally to nine since the site opened in 2010.

Keith Rogers, play service manager at the Sycamore centre, said: “I was chuffed we were shortlisted for a national award, we were up against the cream of the cream - to have won is fantastic.”

The centre aims to provide high-quality indoor and outdoor play for young people, including children with learning difficulties and physical disabilities and attracts around 1,000 young people each month.

It has 25 qualified staff and volunteers and a host of attractions including a desert island, hammocks and a palm tree, an indoor play barn, cantilever swing, a mini waterfall and go-karts.

Mr Rogers said: “We are in tough times, across the country play services are closing down. We have really good staff and volunteers and we have been quite entrepreneurial, the kitchen brings in an income and we have corporate events and children’s parties, which means there will always be a play centre in Dudley.”

Alexandra Crockett, whose eight-year-old daughter uses the Sycamore centre, said: “My daughter, Alana, has Autism and has particularly benefited from using the centre. Keith and the team have got to know her really well over the years, and all have the knowledge and experience to handle her needs.

“Alana has recently started to attend the additional needs sessions, where she stays at the centre for two hours a week, without a family member. This is a real development in her independence, and is only possible because the staff there have made such an effort to get to know her.”

Councillor Tim Crumpton, Dudley cabinet member for children’s services, added: “Congratulations to the fantastic staff and volunteers at Sycamore Adventure. I am really proud that Dudley is leading innovative play provision and I’m delighted that it is increasingly achieving national recognition.”