Mark has recently been appointed as executive officer of the UK leading trade body within the sport and play industry. Want to know more about what he is planning to do during his stint at the API? Read the full interview on the API's website
"It’s still early days but it is great to be part of an organisation that is at the forefront of campaigning at the highest level for continued investment in children’s play facilities. I believe it’s important to represent an active trade body and with three children of my own I’m keen to see them play, learn and have fun in a play environment that has been sourced from a reputable API company. As a parent I’d want to be secure in the knowledge that any playground they visit comes from a supplier that has experience and expertise in children’s play and that safety and play value are of paramount importance. The time I give to the API will be to encourage these key things and support awareness of those ‘cut-price, rogue’ operators that offer inferior products, poor quality installations and over-sold guarantees throughout our market."
You recently worked closely with the design team to launch Primary Arena, which is a multi-sports court specifically designed for Primary School children. What do you like the most about it?
"Remember “The Wrong Trousers”, “A Grand Day-out” and “A Close Shave”? All produced by the inspirational Nick Parks, Childrens award winning Director and Producer of the Wallace & Gromit Saga? As an entertainment company of a different kind, HAGS-SMP have produced their own masterpiece. ‘Mark & Gary’s Special Project’ has transformed into what today, is known as ‘Primary Arena’ - An inclusive sports area designed for Primary School children of all abilities. This flexible and adaptable sports system started 15 months ago with a frenzy of ideas over coffee and donuts. Sketches and artwork by Gary Wallis, Creative Design Manager for HAGS-SMP got the ball rolling, and when the Primary Spaces programme was announced in March 2014, it was like our own Christmas block-buster had arrived at our door. A few months later and we’re proud to take those original concepts, apply our experience gained from the SEPS programme and together with the sound educational knowledge & expertise of Simon Carson, Schools Business Manager, launch a truly fantastic entertainment product for Primary School Children. The system is derived around three simple aspects. Play, Exercise & Learn. It encourages both group and individual play. It supports creative thinking, active lifestyles and will keep children of all ages and abilities entertained for many, many lunch-time breaks. The real benefit of the product is that children are invited to creative and active learning though non-prescriptive activities based around literacy and mathematical thinking that link to the national curriculum to ensure positive outcomes around Playing, Exercising and Learning can be achieved."
Describe your ideal playground
"I grew-up in a seaside town on the fringes of open countryside and although a lot has changed in recent years my ideal playground as a child growing up was the environment I lived in. Rocks, beeches, sand, water, woodlands and wilderness. Whilst it’s difficult to define what the ‘perfect’ playground might look like, I guess my ideal playground would feature a range of dynamics that allow exploration, offers visible manageable risks, as playing is all about testing and transcending one's limits as I did when swinging from trees and clambering over rocks as a child. But if there is no beech or woodland within an urban environment, it’s important to provide children with something comparable that allows for equal exploration and excitement.
HAGS SMP endeavours to recreate the rich and varied experience that nature offers with inspiring play spaces, thoughtful landscape design which incorporates natural elements and non-prescriptive features that give children the freedom to imagine their own scenarios. Our playgrounds are a meeting point for children of all ages, as well as their mums and dads."
Learn more about HAGS SMP visit: www.hags-smp.co.uk