Our staff team and board are passionate about making child’s right to play a reality.
Our Staff Team
Marguerite Hunter Blair
Marguerite Hunter Blair is Chief Executive of Play Scotland which promotes the importance of play and works strategically to create increased play opportunities for all children and young people. She established the Scottish Play Commission and led the campaigns for Scotland’s Play Strategy (2013) and a statutory duty for Play in the Planning Act (2019).
Marguerite is Chair of Scotland’s Play Council Strategy Group, and is Scotland’s representative on UK Play Safety Forum and UK Children’s Play Policy Forum. She is a member of SW/65 – BSI committee for children’s playgrounds standards (EN 1176 series) and a trustee of Fields in Trust Scotland, PAS (Planning Aid Scotland), Licketyspit and IPA Scotland.
Mobile: 07795 954856
Cherie is Director of Projects at Play Scotland. Her role is to work with partners to develop and lead projects that will improve children’s opportunities for play in their local community, with a focus on co-creation and action research. Cherie has delivered training throughout Scotland, and worked with the Care Inspectorate with many of their best practice resources.
Previously, Cherie was the Strategic Play Development Worker with Aberdeen Play Forum and was lead officer on a community capacity building project in a regeneration area in Aberdeen, the “Seaton Backies” project which saw huge success in the community taking ownership and improving their own play spaces.
Before that Cherie worked for Children 1st and Aberdeen College in roles that involved supporting parents and training. Cherie is very interested in the learning and development of children through play; however, she is very keen to advocate for play as vital to children’s positive mental health and wellbeing. Cherie has qualifications in childcare and education, and holds a BA in Childhood Practice.
Jenny is currently on a sabbatical and will return to Play Scotland in August 2024.
Jenny Lester is the Learning and Development Officer at Play Scotland. She works to develop training and resources for practitioners, families, and policymakers.
Jenny has experience in out of school care and has an SVQ3/SCQF Level 7 in Playwork.
She has a background in project management, events, and communications at mental health charities and women’s charities.
Jenny studied Politics, before completing a Masters in Women’s Studies.
In her spare time, she is a poet, wild swimmer, aerialist, Gaelic learner, and Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast.
Simon initially studied for a sports degree, followed immediately by a post graduate certificate in youth and community work. His career progressed within social work, supporting extremely vulnerable children and young people: firstly as a young people’s support worker and then managing a children’s home. Having survived this he made the jump back to community education, as a senior Community Learning and Development worker, leading generic community work and specialist youth work teams in community and secondary school settings.
During his own time he campaigned against increasing restrictions on young people’s free movement in public spaces and started a part-time PhD in Education (University of Strathclyde). His thesis explores childhood freedoms, licences and their impact on developing selfhood. Further study resulted in a PgCert in Strategic Leadership (Glasgow Caledonian University). Simon also served as a Play Scotland board member for around 10 years.
He left local authority employment in 2019 and since then has been self-employed, supervising and assessing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions and working with Glasgow Community Food Network to address food insecurity during the Covid lockdown.
For his sins, Simon still leads a Glaswegian Beaver Scout colony every Tuesday evening. This ‘challenge’ is in fact great fun!
Fiona is the Play Pedagogy Project Officer at Play Scotland. She works with schools across Scotland to develop a play agenda in educational settings and promotes, leads, supports, evaluates, and manages the granting of the Play Scotland Play Pedagogy Award.
Fiona has experience of working in early years establishments and schools for different Local Authorities, latterly as an Area Support Manager. Working in deprived areas has made her passionate about removing barriers to learning, equality of opportunity and raising attainment. She is dedicated to improving children’s rights and raising awareness of the importance of play to child development and learning. Fiona has qualifications in Early Education and Childcare and holds a BA in Childhood Practice from the University of Dundee.
In her spare time, she likes to read, bake, potter about in her garden and to spend time with her family and friends.
Alex is the Learning and Development Officer at Play Scotland. She works to develop training and resources for practitioners, families, and policymakers.
Alex has a background in education and has taught English in both mainstream schools and specialist provisions. Having worked predominantly with children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural needs she is passionate about the impact play has on mental health, wellbeing and quality of childhood as well as longer term life chances.
More recently, Alex has operated a business developing and delivering classes and play opportunities for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their families in the Scottish Borders.
In her spare time Alex enjoys baking with her two daughters, being outdoors and reading.
Sophie Arnold is the Executive Assistant and Project Administrator at Play Scotland. She assists the Chief Executive in all matters arising and supports the Play Scotland team with their various projects.
She has a background in communications, events, and marketing at a national animal welfare charity and works as a freelance copywriter in addition to her role at Play Scotland.
Sophie studied English and Scottish Literature at Edinburgh University. Originally from Germany, Sophie spends her spare time trying to control her dogs and horses with little success and dabbles in dressage riding. She loves to read and spend time with her young son.
Play Scotland has a vibrant, enthusiastic and committed Board of Directors who meet regularly. The highlights of every year are the Staff/Board Away Day where we all get out to play and the AGM-Seminar. The Board is committed to diligent governance and regular training for all Board members.
“I am proud to have the opportunity to chair the board and wish to help Play Scotland build on the achievements and policy change which the organisation has made: protecting the rights and promoting the benefits of play for all children and young people in Scotland.”
Calum Duncan (February 2020)
I am an arts professional with extensive experience delivering child-led arts practice, and in particular harnessing the transformational power of the arts and creativity to improve the lives of our youngest citizens. I have particular expertise using the arts and creativity to deliver key Scottish Government Early Years policies, including Curriculum for Excellence, Pre-Birth to Three Guidance, Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), Closing the Attainment Gap and fulfilling Scotland’s Commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Liane is a chartered member of the Landscape Institute and member of the Architektenkammer Berlin. She has 13 years of experience as a Landscape Architect, in which she has worked in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the United States. Since relocating to Scotland Liane has served as Director at City Design Cooperative, is currently an Associate at rankinfraser landscape architects and has co-founded UrbanPioneers Landscape Architects and an Associate at rankinfraser landscape architecture.
The work of her own practice focuses on socio-political work. Through extensive work with schools and local authorities Liane has developed a particular interest in play and the current limitation for free play in our society. With her office UrbanPioneers Liane has published an article for Architecture & Design Scotland on “Invest more, not less in Outdoor Learning” as part of their Better Briefing for Education Benefit series and has interviewed Edinburgh pupils about their way to school with the intension to create a playable city.
Liane is also a co-producer of the Architecture Fringe. Initiated by a group of architects, designers, landscape architects, photographers, engineers, visual artists, curators and musicians the Architecture Fringe is an independent contributor-led series of projects and events across the arts which explores architecture and its impact.
John Cleary, Treasurer
Since graduating in 1983 I have worked for Aiton & Co Chartered Accounts in different positions. Starting as a trainee CA and finishing up as Senior Partner in 1994.
Voluntary work for Trustee, Hayfield Ltd. A charity providing support services for deaf people with special needs and ‘Tax Help for Older People’ A service providing free tax advice where required.
Have been a Play Scotland Board Director since 2009 and Treasurer since 2010.
Married with 4 children.
Calum Duncan runs an award-winning architectural practice in Edinburgh, working on residential, educational and community-related projects across Scotland. Calum has 25 years of experience in large and small architectural practices. Calum Duncan Architects LTD create homes, buildings and spaces unique to the users’ needs and interests, full of personality, improving energy efficiency and, above all, a delight to live or work in – while remaining flexible enough to cope with changing circumstances.
Coordinating the Archischools project, Calum hopes to empower and engage our young citizens in the design and politics of the built environment. He was a design tutor from 2015 to 2020 at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and continues to be engaged as a guest critic and lecturer.
As chair of the board at Play Scotland, Calum is passionate about the access of greenspace, wild spaces and urban spaces as opportunities for children and young people to access and play.
Away from professional life, Calum enjoys spending time outdoors, often in a reasonably intensive fashion involving bikes or running, but equally enjoying green and wild spaces to explore and clear the head: gardens, wilderness, camping, photography, drawing, birdwatching and swimming. And all the more enjoyable shared with others.
Professor Sukanya Krishnamurthy
Sukanya Krishnamurthy is a Chancellors Fellow/ Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh. Her focus lies at the interface between urban and social geography, where her scholarship analyses how cities can use their resources and values for better sustainable development.
Key interests include, place-making and participatory approaches, urban cultures and representation, society and smart urbanism. Over the last years she has bought these interests together within child friendly planning and enabling the agenda of context driven planning. Some lines of inquiry include, how urban spaces are accessed/ consumed by children and child-minders, mapping everyday lives of children, and developing capacity to address challenges related to inclusive planning.
She is a member of research evaluation commissions and board member of various civic society associations. She has been a PI and team member on research projects (EU, NWO, third sector funding) in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Israel, UK, Turkey and India.
Paul Liddell, Vice Chair
Paul is current National Officer and former Interim National Head of BBC Children in Need in Scotland. He is the first point of contact for hundreds of organisations funded to support disadvantaged children and young people across the nation.
BBC Children in Need are one of the biggest independent funders of play in the UK and Paul is one of the charity’s Play Champions. His experience of grantmaking spans almost 13 years, coming to BBC Children in Need from the Big Lottery Fund where he managed the Young Start fund and the Third Sector Early Intervention Fund.
My current role is Policy and Research Manager for YouthLink Scotland. I lead the development of youth work policy impacting on young people’s lives, investigating and responding to current and emerging policy and legislative issues affecting young people and the youth work sector, ensuring that YouthLink Scotland’s policy agenda is reflective and responsive to young people. A key focus of my role is leading on co-developing and producing the new National Youth Work Strategy (20-25) and implementation plan, alongside strategic partners, The Scottish Government and Education Scotland.