Bob Hughes, who was Islington Play Association’s patron, died last week after a long illness which he resisted with dignity. He was a deep thinker who had a far-reaching influence on play practitioners all over the UK and beyond.
Bob is well known for his theories on Play Types, this work helped playworkers to develop a common language for discussing play and was the beginning point from which many students began their research into play and playwork. He ran a hugely popular adventure playground in the 1970s and wrote articles and books about play including Evolutionary Playwork: Reflective Analytic Practice, whose second edition came out in 2012.
Bob spoke with hundreds of play workers on his many visits to adventure playgrounds across the country. He was a warm man whose presence was inspiring and whose work was rigorous and ambitious. We saw him take his thinking into areas such as neuroscience and meta-physics, always with the playing child at the absolute centre. He viewed play in a spiritual manner but also as an animal activity which is utterly essential to human survival. In an advocacy piece he produced to influence politicians in 2021 Bob wrote ‘Play … is a fundamental necessity, like oxygen, nutrition and love’.
Bob’s work had a huge effect on the adventure play movement and on thousands of children nationwide. We are grateful for his work with IPA and will continue to find delight in his memory.