Barry becomes appeal patron

A Samlesbury man, who describes himself as having the best job in the world because he gets to supply fun all over the world, has agreed to be the patron of Lancashire Teaching Hospital Charity’s just launched Children’s Appeal.

Barry Leahey MBE is CEO of Ulverston-based Playdale, the UK’s leading manufacturer of children’s outdoor play equipment, which it supplies to local authorities for schools and parks and also, exports to 51 countries across the globe.

Barry (46), who lives with wife Louise and their six-year-old daughter Arabella, said: “I am delighted to take on this role in support of the appeal, which is all about making children feel more comfortable in an environment that is strange and daunting to them.

“I always say I have the best job in the world because I get to supply fun all over the world and one of the projects the appeal is funding is play equipment – sensory play trolleys, game consoles and interactive toys.”

A former amateur rugby league player and ardent St Helens Rugby League FC fan Barry, who sits on the Rugby League World Cup 2022 Business Advisory Panel, added: “I know first-hand that play is essential in children’s lives, aiding their social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. For children coming into hospital, who are already missing out on school and the opportunity to interact with their friends, it’s vital that we provide the right environment to enable play. I couldn’t be prouder to have been offered this role.”

And it is a role that is maintaining a family tradition in terms of serving the Trust as before she retired, Barry’s mum Nicola Leahey worked in its clinical governance and audit department but then went on to join its council of governors in retirement, stepping down just last year as Lead Governor after nine years of service.

The Children’s Appeal is aiming to raise £1 million to overhaul children’s wards and other treatment areas at the Royal Preston Hospital, where 10,000 babies and young people aged from one day to 19 years are cared for annually.

Through the appeal, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity wants to make them into “healing environments” so hospital becomes a less scary place. Environments designed to make patients feel less stressed and more relaxed have also shown themselves able to improve patients’ response to treatment.

Besides play equipment, the appeal’s shopping list of items, which has been put together by doctors, nurses and other clinical staff and after consultation with parents and young patients, includes a seaside themed decorative make-over, virtual sky ceiling panels, air conditioning, a reclining chair by every bed for parent sleep-overs, new lifts and hoists and a new mental health suite. There is also a parent break-out zone of a fully kitted out kitchen/dining area.

Head of Charities Paula Wilson said: “We are thrilled to welcome Barry as our appeal patron. No one is better qualified to champion the importance of play in children’s lives than him. He will be an invaluable asset.”

Barry received his MBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to international trade. In 2018, he was named as the Institute of Directors “Global Director of the Year”. He is a former chair of the Institute of Directors in Cumbria and an honorary professor at Lancaster University Management School.

To watch a Children’s Appeal video featuring Barry, become involved or make a donation click here