Our work is supported by a range of associates with expertise in their area of work.
Find out more about the Play Wales team and its Board of Trustees.
Danielle joined Play Wales in June 2021. Her primary role is to manage the everyday running of our office. She also works closely with our Director to oversee effective board governance and policy compliance and implementation.
Danielle graduated in 2005 with a BA in Business, Accounting and Finance. Since then, she has worked primarily in the public sector, where she has undertaken a range of roles, from staff mentor and trainer to executive assistant. When not at work, Danielle spends her time with her young family and enjoys CrossFit training.
Mike has been the Director of Play Wales since its inception in 1998. In this role, he has been instrumental in advising the Welsh Government on the development and adoption of the world’s first national play policy and planning its implementation strategy. Subsequently, he has contributed to the development and application of Wales’ ground-breaking play sufficiency legislation.
Mike has extensive experience in the delivery and management of play provision and playwork, including establishing local, regional and national charities. A member of the World Board of the International Play Association (IPA) since 2008, he and his colleagues contributed to the development of General Comment no. 17, which supports Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). He is also treasurer of the IPA.
Mike is also a vice chair of the UK Children’s Play Policy Forum, a Trustee of Learning through Landscapes and a member of both the UK Play Safety Forum and Children in Wales’ Policy Council. He has been a LEA education advisor, a county youth officer, a playworker on adventure playgrounds, a youth and community worker and, many years ago, trained as a teacher.
Mike continues to practice playwork every summer at his village playscheme, where he is the Chairperson of the village play association. He has four children and eight grandchildren who keep him laughing, young and tired!
Workforce Development Officer
Martin has worked for Play Wales since 2006. He has lead responsibility for policy and strategic development relating to the learning and professional development of the play and playwork workforce in Wales.
Based in north Wales, Martin began his playwork career in 2002 as a play development worker with a small charity in Sherwood, Nottingham. When he isn’t working, Martin is mostly likely to be found playing with his family on the beach, juggling or training for a triathlon.
Assistant Director (Policy, Support and Advocacy)
Marianne has over 30 years’ experience in many aspects of play and playwork, including play strategy consultation and development. She joined Play Wales in 2002, having been one of our trustees before this. She leads on play sufficiency, children’s rights, health and wellbeing and neighbourhood play provision.
Marianne has worked with the Welsh Government to support the development of a toolkit to support local authorities in undertaking the Play Sufficiency Assessments. She is an Honorary Research Associate in the College of Engineering at Swansea University. She leads on the Active Play indicator as a member of the Active Healthy Kids Wales Report Card Expert Group.
Marianne is also the lead author for Play and Leisure Thematic Briefings as a member of the Wales United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Monitoring Group. In her spare time, Marianne enjoys reading, cooking, listening to up-and-coming (and some old, established) bands and mastered the hula-hoop during lockdown!
Ruth joined Play Wales in November 2015 and is responsible for our accounting and financial systems.
Ruth graduated from the University of Glamorgan with a degree in Business Accounting and gained her chartered accountant qualification (ACCA) while working in accounts departments across various sectors. Before working at Play Wales, Ruth worked for a charity providing supported accommodation and support services in Wales.
When not working, Ruth enjoys time with her young family and forever answering the question ‘Why?’!
Diana Wilczyńska Fiuk
Administration and Events Assistant
Diana joined Play Wales in 2023, having graduated with a BA in International Politics at Aberystwyth University. She is responsible for assisting staff by delivering general support and completing a range of administrative tasks. She also supports with our training programme by administering bookings, liaising with speakers and ensuring the smooth running of events.
Before joining Play Wales, Diana worked as a Festival Research Assistant at Aberystwyth University, where she was involved in planning aspects of a research festival, The Pursuit of Peace, which explored various dimensions of peace.
Outside work, Diana indulges in travel, cooking, surfing, and an active lifestyle. She treasures time with her partner and a mischievous ginger cat – Diana is often found picking up plants knocked over by the cat’s playful adventures in the middle of the night.
Angharad Wyn Jones
Angharad joined Play Wales in 2006, having graduated with a BA in Welsh and Journalism followed by an MPhil in Welsh. She is now our Communications Manager.
She is responsible for the information service – this includes maintaining the website, leading on the production of Play Wales publications, coordinating media enquiries and translation. Angharad also leads on the Playful Childhoods campaign and website, as well as being responsible for the organisation’s social media channels. She is a member of the UK Playday Steering Group.
When not working, Angharad enjoys reading novel after novel, travelling the world and watching the Welsh rugby team.
Our work is supported by a range of associates with expertise in their area of work.
Jane works with our Workforce Development Officer to provide support to our playwork qualification centres. She also liaises with playwork learners interested in undertaking our qualifications and supports the development and review of teaching and learning resources.
Jane is a playwork and youth work practitioner, trainer, assessor and qualified in Internal Quality Assurace (IQA). She has been a training coordinator in play and youth work across Wales for over 23 years. She qualified in Wrexham in 1993 then went onto Reading University to complete a Youth & Community Education degree then later completed the PGCE teacher training qualification.
During her career Jane has worked in the voluntary sector as well in further education. She enjoys working as part of a team, supporting staff and volunteers with workforce development in turn supporting best practice for children and young people. She is a Trustee of a youth and community charity supporting community development initiatives. She enjoys chocolate, lots of it and travelling in the campervan with her family.
Rachel supports our Communications Manager. Together they promote the work of Play Wales and its partners across the organisation’s communications channels.
Previously, Rachel worked in communications in both the higher education and social care sectors, most recently as the communications lead for the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru. This prompted her desire to work in a role that supports children and young people.
Alongside her work, Rachel is studying to become a children’s counsellor and currently volunteers as a Childline counsellor. Rachel has two young children who keep her busy, and also has a penchant for DIY, long walks and early 2000s indie music.
A Board of Trustees oversees the running of Play Wales to ensure that we meet our objectives effectively and efficiently within the law. Observer organisations to the Board support the Trustees but can’t vote.
All our Trustees are either elected by our membership or co-opted. Each Trustee represents an area of expertise, such as children’s rights, participation, health and wellbeing.
Dr Rhian Barrance
Rhian is a Research Associate at the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research Data and Methods (WISERD), part of the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. She is currently working on a WISERD education research project, a large-scale longitudinal cohort study.
The study is based on a survey of pupils across Wales, which looks at aspects of their lives and education over the last seven years.
Rhian completed her PhD at the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast. Since joining Cardiff University, she has completed two projects for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, including an evidence review of the human rights of children in Wales.
Anne is a policy and research consultant. An Honorary Fellow at Cardiff University, she has completed a PhD on the impact of children’s participation on policy-making.
From 1999 to 2009, Anne worked as the Assistant Director (Policy and Research) with Save the Children in Wales. Before becoming involved in policy and research, she worked with marginalised young people as a social worker and probation officer.
Matluba is a lecturer in Urban Design at Cardiff University. Before this, she served as a research fellow at University College London and as an Assistant Professor in Architecture at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
Matluba, a ‘converted’ landscape architect, trained in architecture and became a co-designer and action researcher in the best interests of children and the community. She is an expert in participatory design, intervention research and evaluation of the built environment for children’s learning, health and wellbeing.
Working in both practice and academia, Matluba strives to reduce the gap between research and practice and co-founded the charity, A Place in Childhood. She has presented internationally on the topic of designing for children’s learning and health and engaging young people in design, including a 2017 TEDx talk. The school grounds she co-designed in Bangladesh received several prestigious international awards including EDRA Great Places Award 2016 and ASLA Honor Award 2017.
Malcolm King OBE
Malcolm has played a leading role both professionally and politically, developing services and policies for children, young people and families locally and nationally for over 30 years. He has been the Manager of The Venture adventure playground in Wrexham since 1984.
In 1989, he was elected to serve as Clwyd County Councillor for Caia Park and soon became chair of the Social Services Committee introducing many reforms. Since 1996, he has been at various times leader of Wrexham Council, chair of its Policy and Resources Committee, and Executive Board member.
Since 2000 Malcolm has played a leading role within the Association of Police Authorities (APA), leading the APA’s contribution to developing neighbourhood policing since 2001. More recently, he has led the policy response to The Children Act, developing policies on child protection and youth crime.
Professor Ronan Lyons
Ronan graduated in medicine from Trinity College, Dublin in 1983 and, after a number of years of hospital medicine, specialised in public health and epidemiology.
He moved to Wales in 1993 and held a number of public health physician and emergency department posts before entering academia. He is currently Professor of Public Health at Swansea University and an honorary consultant with Public Health Wales NHS Trust.
Ronan is involved with numerous local, national and international observational and interventional studies, particularly in the fields of injury prevention and control, child health and health improvement. Many of these are supported by his developments in population-wide record linkage.
He holds a number of UK research positions, including Director of the Centre for the Improvement of Population Health through E-health Research (CIPHER) and Co-Director of the UKCRC funded DECIPHer Public Health Research Centre of Excellence.
Keith was the Children’s Commissioner for Wales between 2008 and 2015 and is currently an independent consultant. He is a respected children’s rights expert with over 30 years’ experience in social work, youth work and youth justice.
As the country’s second children’s commissioner, he published a number of reports on subjects including play, advocacy, child protection, child trafficking, young carers, disabled children and young people, and looked after children.
Keith was a member of the Welsh Government’s National Children’s Safeguarding Forum and a panel member of the Family Justice Review. This independent review was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, Department of Education and the Welsh Government and he represented children’s interests.
He was a member of the International Play Association (IPA) Working Group that was asked by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to take a lead role in helping to draft General Comment no. 17 on Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Dr Jacky Tyrie
Jacky is a researcher and lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Swansea University. She has worked for 10 years as a higher education lecturer, with posts at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Swansea University.
Her interest is in early childhood from a sociological and geographical perspective and her research focuses on international childhoods, play and children’s participation rights. Jacky is an expert and national leader in children’s rights and co-ordinates the Children’s Rights in Early Years (CREY) Network.
She has published articles in a range of journals, including The International Journal of Children’s Rights, The British Journal of Sociology and the Wales Journal of Education.
Elspeth grew up on a hill farm in north Wales and became a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Her consultant career was as academic paediatrician at Cardiff University, a position from which she retired in 2015. She holds an Honorary Chair in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University and works on an honorary basis for the university and the health board, teaching and working clinically.
Elspeth has authored over 50 publications, including papers on autism, ADHD, refugee health, race and health, domestic abuse, child abuse and children’s rights. She has a long-standing commitment to children’s rights, having served on the first Welsh Children’s Commissioner’s advisory group, and was also a member of the UNCRC Welsh Monitoring Committee for over 10 years.
She is married to a fellow member of the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, has two daughters and enjoys walking and cycling.
Hana is the founder and director of Sprouts Arabic Montessori Playgroup, a holistic bilingual Arabic immersion play-based setting, which emphasises outdoor learning. As an off-shoot of the playgroup, she has developed a training programme for bilingual Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women, to gain qualifications, training, coaching, mentoring and more, in the childcare, early years and play sector.
Hana is currently working on a postgraduate at Manchester University in digital technology, communication and education. Her area of research is on how mobile technology can be used to aid bilingual families in teaching their children Arabic in the early years.
Welsh Local Government Association
Catherine is the Children’s Policy Officer at the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), leading on the association’s policy in the areas of early years and childcare, child poverty, children’s rights and the reform of Additional Learning Needs. She represents local government on a number of external bodies, including the Welsh Government’s Childcare Working Group, the End Child Poverty Network Cymru and the Children in Wales Policy Council.
A former civil servant, Catherine joined the Home Office in London after graduating and worked across a range of policy areas and in HM Treasury. Returning to her home city of Cardiff in 2001, she held posts in the education department at the Welsh Government before joining WLGA in 2009.