Mark Gladwin, who died last year, has been awarded the Paul Bonel Memorial Award at the National Playwork Conference, in recognition of his unique contribution to the play and playwork sector.
Mark worked and volunteered in play development and support for over 30 years, supporting play in York, Bradford, Yorkshire Play, PLAYLINK and Play England.
Mark was one of the founder members of Play England. He believed that Play in England needed its own independent national body, with the purpose of campaigning and advocating for play. He was instrumental in writing the memorandum and articles for the new charity, helping to shape the vision, values and ethos of Play England.
He was passionate about campaigning for children’s rights to play, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and UN General Comment 17. And he put his principles into practice locally, regionally and nationally.
Mark was always a voice of reason and calm in a crisis. He combined being very strategic and knowledgeable about play and playwork with having a real insight and empathy with what others might be thinking. That knowledge and insight helped steer his colleagues through many crises and to avoid pitfalls on numerous occasions.
Like Paul Bonel, he was very generous with his time and hugely supportive of colleagues who were new to the playwork field, taking time to discuss with them and to help them to learn.
He has been a role model to all of us in play and playwork – gentle and kind – and perhaps the only person in the field who has never fallen out with anyone and was always able to work effectively with everybody.
Mark was always hugely supportive and encouraging to everyone he worked with. He was always thoughtful and responsive, giving good advice, very strategic and always able to see the bigger picture and focus on the key aim of campaigning and advocacy for play.