A BENCH designed by children in a former pit village will serve as a lasting tribute to a woman who was committed to improving facilities for young people.

For decades Margaret Girvan worked tirelessly to raise funds and improve opportunities for residents in Trimdon Grange, near Sedgefield.

As well as fundraising for local causes, such as the Trimdon Grange Banner Association, the grandmother-of-four was an active member of the Trimdon Grange Community Centre Association and played a crucial role in securing the new play equipment and multi-use-games-area (MUGA).

For 17 years, she strove to provide safe play activities for thousands of families through her work with the charity East Durham Play and Community Network, which closed last year.

Mrs Girvan’s sudden death last month at the age of 58 came as a bitter blow to villagers and her friends and family were determined to find a fitting tribute for her.

The new bench, designed by members of Trimdon Grange Youth Club, proved the perfect solution.

Pamela Duddin, treasurer of Trimdon Grange Community Centre Association, explained: “We had always planned to have seating when we started the park project and we wanted to get the children involved.

“When Margaret died we decided to put a memorial plaque on for her. She was such a big part of the community and did so much for the kids. To have a memorial bench near the MUGA is a great tribute to everything she achieved.”

Co-ordinated by Groundwork North-East, the project saw designer Jim Marshall work with youngsters at the youth club to come up with ideas for the bench.

And the finished design features football boots and a sports bag, as well as the memorial plaque for Mrs Girvan, “a true people’s champion.”

Mrs Girvan’s older sister, Councillor Lucy Hovvels, said: “This is a fine tribute to Margaret. She was passionate about the community and worked so hard for the people.”

She said Mrs Girvan, who worked at the Dovecote Inn in Trimdon Grange for many years, was greatly missed, adding: “I have lost my best friend as well as my sister.”

Trimdon Grange Youth Club is for youngsters aged seven to 11 and meets at the community centre, on Kielder Drive, from 5pm to 7pm on Wednesday.