A DILAPIDATED play area at Lydiard Park has been transformed into a dedicated barbecue and picnic area.

Volunteers, wardens and park staff came together on Wednesday afternoon for the official opening of the newly renovated space.

There is already a field at Lydiard where it is possible to hire out barbecue pitches - there are ten in total.

But for corporate bookings or private events, such a large shared space is not always ideal.

Hidden away in a grass bowl that descends into the ground, with attractive fencing and hedgerows for added privacy, the new area has the capacity for a couple of hundred people.

Picnic tables with protective gazebos provide ample space for dining and two large barbecues have been bought especially to be used on the new site.

Groups will either be able to bring their own food or alternatively the team at Lydiard Park can organise a catering service.

Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council's cabinet member for the economy, regeneration and skills, was on hand to cut the ribbon.

He said the finished result was better than he could have imagined, joking that he might invite the team to do his garden given the excellent job they had done.

Coun Perkins praised the team of Lydiard Park volunteers who gave up their spare time to help the full time staff transform a previously redundant part of the park.

One of those volunteers, Peter Hawkins, helped to plant the flowers and shrubs that will form a colourful natural wall where a playground slide used to sit.

The 60-year-old, from Toothill, began volunteering at Lydiard a few years ago.

"I had retired and wanted to give something back," he said.

"We always brought the kids here and they enjoyed it so I thought it would be something nice to do.

"I normally help out in the walled garden but I do other bits and pieces too - usually I'll come along once a week but sometimes if I'm free and the staff need some help I will come in."

Peter is part of large group of volunteers, the core of which numbers around 30 people.

For information about hiring the new barbecue area, visit www.lydiardpark.org.uk