IPA England Committee

We are a group of play and playwork activists. Our current committee members are:



Meynell is a playworker, playwork trainer/lecturer, and playwork advocate. He has been working with children and young people in various capacities for 51 years. An MPhil and qualifications in teaching, youth work, playwork and expertise in early years have given him a very clear understanding of the role of play and its importance in the everyday lives of children. He travels extensively across the globe to discuss play and playwork with both face-to-face workers and academics. He is still a frontline playworker both with Meynell Games and also as the Playground manager at Hastings Adventure Playground, as well as an academic, and his role in curating a specialist collection of play, playwork and childhood books for sale enables him to be one of the most well-read in the sector.

Chair – Meynell Walter


Ana is a previous playworker, children’s service manager and trainer, lecturer in Childhood Development and Playwork and play consultant. She has 17 years of experience working in the play sector, first in frontline playwork in different play settings and various countries, then in play service management and development, and playwork training and consultancy. Somewhere in between, Ana found a passion for researching play in refugee camps which is something she always welcomes a conversation around. Currently, Ana’s much-loved job is supporting primary schools across the Yorkshire region to develop a culture around play and improve their play provision.

Treasurer – Ana Ardelean



Paul has been an active member of IPA for a numbers of years now. He started his career working across different youth work settings and then moved on to work for 15 years on Adventure Playgrounds. After training as a social worker he went on to work in a number of different roles within the voluntary sector, most recently as Deputy Chief Executive of Contact a Family. Paul’s entire career has been focussed on working with families who have children and young people with additional needs and disabilities. He is currently Chair of the Lady Allen Trust. He was awarded an OBE in 2017 for his services to children and families. He is co-author (with Allan Sutherland) of ‘Adventure Play with Handicapped Children (Human Horizons)’

Secretary – Paul Soames


Executive Committee members:

Ekimiebe’s work experience spans across marketing, educational administration, and consulting. She has worked extensively with adult learners and children as a Montessori Teacher Trainer, nursery and elementary educator in Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States. She is currently undergoing PhD study with an interest in play, early childhood development, learning, culture, and parenting. Her research is an exploration of parental beliefs about the role of play in development and learning during the early years in Nigeria and the UK.

Ekimiebi Esiri

Born in South Africa, Jennifer Davids is a chartered clinical psychologist and a child , adolescent and adult psychoanalyst, trained at the Anna Freud Centre and the British Psychoanalytical Society. She worked as a staff member of the Anna Freud Centre for over 20 years, in the National Health Service and in foster agencies.  Working in the community beyond the consulting room is one of her passions. She has taught nationally and internationally and published a book, The Nursery Age Child ( Karnacs  2010), and several papers. Jennifer is much influenced by the ideas of Clare and Donald Winnicott, who wrote much about play. She lives , writes, plays and works in  private practice in London.

Jennifer Davids

IMG_8591 copy

Chris is a playworker, writer/researcher, and playwork activist. He was recently awarded his PhD, examining intra-actions between children and mobile digital technology in outdoor play. He is a Postgraduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has published and delivered academic and professional papers in the UK and internationally. He also works face-to-face at Tiverton Adventure Playground. Chris was the main writer and project lead for the UK Play and Playwork Education and Skills Strategy 2011-2016; facilitated the All Party Parliamentary Group on Play, and was National Playwork Convenor for the Community, Youth and Playworker’s Section of Unite the Union.

Chris Martin

DSCF0480 2

Jess has over 51 years experience in play and playwork and has been involved in many training and advisory roles, including training experience with the London Adventure Playground Association, managing Islington Council’s Play and Recreation Department and Hackney Play Association’s Play Training Unit. He has been a Trustee of adventure playgrounds, a school governor and Chair of the Halabja Community Play Project, building an adventure playground in Iraq.

In 2012 Jess was awarded the “Lifetime in Play in London’ award. He still works on adventure play sites and schools, helping people understand the importance of play in children and young people’s lives.

Jess Milne


Laura is the Head of Play at Starlight. She obtained over 14 years of experience in the field of play and physical activity for children and young people at the Central YMCA in Central London. She achieved an MA in Children and Play from the University of Gloucestershire in 2016 and continues to volunteer in frontline delivery with children and young people. Laura brings experience in service delivery, organisational development, stakeholder engagement and planning for play.

Laura Walsh


Libby manages Shoreditch Adventure Playground. She was amongst the playworkers who led the award-winning Save Watford’s Adventure Playgrounds (SWAP) campaign. She studied Playwork at the University of Gloucestershire.

Libby Truscott


Rob has worked in children’s play since 1971.  He was an adventure playground worker in Birmingham, a field officer for Belfast Adventure Playgrounds, and a regional play adviser for 2 national charities. One of the country’s leading children’s play consultants and most experienced playground inspector, he is now Director of the Children’s Play Advisory Service.  Additionally he is a leading researcher, by observation and consultation, of children’s freedom to play. Published work includes:

  • Child’s Play: Facilitating play on housing estates (with Dr Alison Millward) (1997) pub. CIH & Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Can Play Will Play – disabled children’s access to playgrounds (with Alison John) (2004) pub. NPFA
  • Most Play Strategies are Wrong (Conference paper) based on research in Cardiff

Rob Wheway