Awards for Play 2008

Award ceremony 6th September  2008 at ‘House for an Art Lover’, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow

The setting for this year’s award was one of last year’s winners chosen for a best design award. The setting was perfect for those who attended and the weather was kind for us all, particularly for the youngsters who came and enjoyed the park while the grown-ups did the serious bit!

The awards were presented by Adam Ingram MSP (Minister for Children and the Early Years), who was delighted to see so many superb parks being celebrated and told us of the positive future for play and future investments plans for play coming forward in the next year, which was good news for all those who attended.

The awards this year also involved the launch of this web site, which everyone was delighted to see come to life as the Minister connected us to the Web!

1. Award for Best Design of a Play Experience.

  • Castle Green Play Space, Broughty Ferry – Dundee City Council

Dundee City Council

Castle Green was transformed from a bleak, asphalt expanse punctuated with rather stale equipment into a vibrant and imaginative destination play area. As well as being a catalyst for the drawing up a Master Plan for the Castle Green waterfront site at Broughty Ferry, the play area project was a valuable opportunity for the Landscape Design Team to collaborate with specialist suppliers, artists, community groups, and open consultation sessions to arrive at a well thought-out, dynamic play space that is unique in many details.

The success of the scheme lies in the combined variety of off-the-peg and imagination based play elements. It’s free form layout is designed to be widely inclusive and meet the needs of children and adults alike.

Grassy expanses and gentle mounding supplement the wind-sheltered recessed seating areas, and on weekends and mild evenings are dotted with family groups relaxing and enjoying the environment. The play area has its own unique character and draws consistently high numbers of visitors from far and wide.

The Trustees commended the following as finalists in this category-

  • Stobsmuir Park Play Space – Dundee
  • The Kelvingrove Park – Glasgow

2. Best Community Award for Play.

There are two winners

In urban Scotland

  • Northfield Area Forum – Aberdeen

Northfield Area Forum

The Forum is a local organisation composed of local people who meet Councillors, MSP’s, MP’s, police and voluntary organisations to discuss local issues. They are involved in the regeneration of the area which is classed as an area of deprivation. Projects range from supporting a company supplying fruit and vegetables to painting shop frontages and bus shelters.

They are also involved in local planning and reinstating of green spaces in the community. Following receipt of regeneration funds they decided to refurbish a local park which lay virtually unused. With input from the children they built a bike and, a skateboard facility. The S.F.A then helped them to install an enclosed multi game facility where football and basketball among other sports can be played.

A huge tyre swing was hung and they are intending to add play equipment when money becomes available. The park was renamed in memory of a local young man who was killed in Iraq. “The Allan Douglas Park”.

The participation achieved by young people of all ages in a well laid out and respected facility, and the imaginative support given by the Area Forum, makes this a very special facility in Aberdeen..

In rural Scotland

  • The Friends of Aberfeldy Parklands in partnership with Perth & Kinross Council

Friends of Aberfeldy Parklands

Friends of Aberfeldy Parklands partnered with Perth and Kinross Council mid 2005 to bring about significant changes to their local play park. Though perhaps catering for spriteful youngsters in the 50’s the play area had since lost its sparkle, the equipment was falling apart and disappearing. The search for money and consulting the locals were the next two hurdles to surmount. Through local fundraising and applying for grant aid from a variety of trusts and organisations, the Friends of Aberfeldy Parklands raised £40,000 of the total £250,000 needed to make their dreams become a reality.

Feedback received through play specific questionnaires for children and young people all sang familiar tunes. From far and near they heard shouts of, sand, slides, slides again, swings, high adrenalin, stuff for adults, not just the kids, challenge, places to hang, places to watch, places to rest, places to imagine…wood, steel, grass, boulders, stuff to climb and gorges to span ! The end result is meeting the all these needs and is proudly owned by the people of Aberfeldy.

The Trustees commended the following as a finalist in this category –

  • The Gordon Play Park – Berwickshire
  • The Finlathen Park Wheeled Sorts Facility – Dundee
  • The Hailes Quarry Park – Edinburgh
  • Longniddry Park Play Area – East Lothian
  • The Lodge Grounds – North Berwick

3. Best Promotion of Outdoor Play Facilities

This year the Trustees are not making an award under this category. However they commend…

  • Dundee City Council for the new play facilities at Baxter Park

4. Outstanding Contribution to Play

This seen by the Trust as the top award for play in Scotland in 2008 and it has been awarded to

  • Cathy Bache and the work of The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery in Letham , Fife.

Secret Garden Secret Garden

The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery gives the freedom for exploration, discovery and play in the outdoor environment wholly back to the child. With woodland to roam and adventure in, carrying tools to support and extend the experience, adults stand back and allow the children to truly lead the way in the natural environment. The ethos is simplicity: trees, branches, leaves, mud, stone, flowers, ferns, fungi, red squirrels and deer are the inspirations and tools of play, creativity and imagination. They simply walk in the wilds and allow the magic to happen together and individually. They are outdoors in all weathers; learning how to shelter from the sun, wind, rain and storms. Adults and children develop physically and emotionally resilience: creating strong hearts and minds that will support them through life. They watch the seasons change; plants and creatures come to life and die; learn the calls of the birds, climb trees and rocks, dig holes, build fire and explore within clear guidelines. While the woods are open to all, they are working with the local Community Council to raise more funds to buy the woods for the community use.

The Secret Garden is truly a ground breaking experience in play for children in Scotland.

5. Alan Rees MBE.

Alan Rees

Alan Rees MBE. is awarded a Nancy Ovens Award for Play 2008 in recognition of his long-term advocacy for children’s play in Scotland, and throughout the world.

From Voluntary Service in Tanganyika in 1962, until his retirement in 1993 as the Assistant Director of the Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council, and in many voluntary roles since, his working life has been genuinely centred on the rights and needs of children and their families.

Alan was one of the first in Scotland to recognise the contribution made to children’s wellbeing by people working with children in a play setting, and to value playwork as a profession, actively advocating for training for playworkers, both paid and voluntary. He recognised the greater play needs of children with disabilities, and played a pivotal role in the setting up of Scotland Yard Adventure Centre for children with additional needs which opened in 1986. He was active in raising funds to provide the building in 1988 for a project that is a leading example of best practice for children’s play, and his long-term, ongoing support for The Yard has continued over two decades.

Alan has been an active figure in the International Play Association, promoting the child’s right to play for many years. He was instrumental in organising the 1994 IPA European Play Conference in Edinburgh, and continues to contribute to IPA Scotland’s projects – recent examples include Hut Building workshops for Scottish playworkers by a trainer from Germany; an exchange visit to Scotland by playworkers from Thailand; and raising money for the Africa Play project in Togo.

Alan and Nancy Ovens were both founding members of Play Scotland in 1998, producing the Agenda for Play which was presented to the Scottish Executive when the Scottish Parliament was first formed. Alan’s political lobbying and advocacy for children’s play rights continues on the Children’s Cross Party Working Group at the Scottish Parliament and as a Board member of the Scottish Alliance on Children’s Rights (SACR).

The Trustees are delighted to recognise the real difference that has been made to the play opportunities of countless children through Alan’s determined advocacy.

Awards for Play previous years winners


The 2007 Awards for Play were held at Evolution Skatepark, Stevenson, North Ayrshire. The Awards were presented by Adam Ingram MSP (Minister for Children and the Early Years) to: 

  • Outstanding Contribution to Play
    • Guth Airson Iarrtasan Nis (GAIN ) for the Eoropie
      Dunes Park, Ness, Isle of Lewis
  • Best Design of a Play Experience
    • The Play Area and Wildlife Garden in Clozium, Lennox Estate
    • Kilysth Grounds for Play in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow
  • Best Community Award for Play
    • The Limekilns Community Project, Fife
    • Abriachan Forest Trust, Inverness


2006 Award Winners

The 2006 Awards were held in Fort William the awards were presented by Donald Gorrie MSP to:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Play
    • North Ayrshire Skate Group, Stevenson
  • Best Community Award for Play
    • The Tiree Community Business
    • The Broomhouse Grove Project, Edinburgh
    • The Hope School Trim Track, South Ronaldsay, Orkney


The 2005 Awards were held at Kirkshaws Play Area, Coatbridge. The Awards were presented by Patricia Ferguson, MSP, Minister for Sport, Culture and Tourism to:

2004 Award Winners

  • Outstanding Contribution to Play
    • Ormlie Community Association Thurso
  • Best Design of a Play Experience
    • Inverlochy, Lochaber
  • Best Community award for Play
    • Friends of Ravelston Park & Woods, Edinburgh
  • Best Promotion of/for Outdoor Play Facilities
    • Summerlee Heritage Park (NLC)


2004 Award Winners

2004 Awards were held at The Yard, Edinburgh and the awards were presented by Euan Robson MSP, Deputy Minister for Children & Young People to:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Play
    • Parents Action for Safe Play Kirkshaws Coatbridge
  • Best Design of a Play Experience
    • East Lothian Council – Lauderdale Park
  • Best Community Award for Play
    • The Range Adventure Playgroup Broxburn
  • Best Promotion of/for Outdoor Play Facilities
    • The Yard, Edinburgh


Or do you know an organisation or someone who deserves an award?

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