The phrase ‘on the shoulders of giants’ is fitting for Bob. He arguably contributed more to the development of the international profession of playwork as we know it today than anyone. His taxonomy of play types provided the context against which playwork has developed. It’s not that we weren’t playworkers before Bob defined us, but the taxonomy provided the framework against which we developed and shared our understanding.
His contribution to play in Wales was also significant. We first worked together in 1999 when, the then fledgling Play Wales commissioned Bob to lead a working group undertaking the development of The First Claim … a framework for playwork quality assessment. It was of its moment. We believed it was the first attempt to describe what we, as a profession, meant by quality play, where we focused on the process rather than the outcome. We had no idea how it would be received, particularly our take on risk. It was a time when what is now the established model that informs so much of today’s playwork qualifications, was no more than a collection of ideas.
In 2001, when Play Wales was commissioned to draft a play policy for the Welsh Government, Bob supported us with the academic basis supporting our rationale. Three years on, he worked with Play Wales when were funded to lead a UK-wide process that resulted in the Playwork Principles, since widely adopted internationally.
Throughout this time of discussion and discovery Bob acted as a critical friend, we engaged in rigorous debate, which was a valuable and enlightening experience. He’ll be much missed, both professionally and personally by the Play Wales team.
Mike and the Play Wales team