CHERIE Blair was the surprise guest of honour at the opening of a revamped play area in Prestwood on Sunday.

The wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been a staunch supporter of the plan since its outset.

The Play In Prestwood group, raised the £90,000 funds. Member Julie Holland said: "We were overjoyed that Cherie Blair was there to open it. She's been very, very good to us."

The group campaigned to revamp the formerly unused and dilapidated play area in Prestwood Common, Grims Dyke since October 2005.

Mrs Blair met the group at last summer's fête at the Misbourne School in Great Missenden. She encouraged the parents to work with the Rotary Club, and agreed to support their efforts.

Mrs Holland, 36, said: "She was great - she said if the Rotary will help you out, then I will organise a charity dinner at Chequers."

The dinner was held in March this year and it was then that Mrs Blair agreed to open the playground.

Mrs Holland who is married to David, 38, and has two children - Abigail, seven, and Samuel, five - said: "She's totally kept to her word and followed through with what she said. She was very nice on the day, and very amiable towards everybody.

"It was wonderful to see the kids having a whale of a time. The playground's for age zero to late teens really - there's something there for them all. It's something for the whole community."

Mrs Holland said the whole group had done a fine job, but singled out chairman Claire Moore. She said: "She's worked so, so hard for this, she really deserves thanks."

Major contributions for the area were made by the parish council, Great Missenden Rotary Club, Misbourne School, other organisations and individuals. A £50,000 contribution came from Biffaward, a landfill tax scheme run by Biffa Waste Services, which provides funds that would have been paid in tax to local environmental or community projects.