Last year, Hillingdon Primary School facilities manager Pete Bristow found what he was looking for at IoG Saltex. "We already have a number of Wicksteed items at the school – for example a play table, sand box, Toadstools, Space Nets and a Mystical World Magical Kingdom. With a sizable budget at last year's show I selected another Mystical World product – the Forbidden City," says Bristow.
In 2009, Wicksteed is again gearing up to inspire as the Northamptonshire-based company puts on a display focusing on a new play experience – PlayAlive. This interactive electronic play system features flashing lights, sonic sounds and a variety of games for multiple users.
Fitness is also a theme as Wicksteed sets eight- to 13-year-olds the Rockscape climbing challenge and offers the bounce-to-fitness Jumping Tarantula trampoline.
Leading playground designer and manufacturer Record RSS has found a home-grown way to flourish during the recession – the company realised 16 per cent growth in 2008 by investing in, and buying, British.
Following a detailed strategic review at the end of 2007, Record RSS took the decision to invest heavily in developing its core skills within its manufacturing operations in Selby, North Yorkshire, rather than outsourcing overseas. This investment in skills was backed by a commitment to buy British throughout the whole manufacturing process. Sales director Doug Belfield explains: "Since we made the decision to really go for it in terms of supporting the British market, we've seen sales rise – even as the economy slows. We also have a very healthy order book and are still forecasting strong sales growth for 2009. We believe investment in the UK economy has not only brought financial rewards but has had an extremely positive impact on our workforce."
Bellfield now wants the Government to support investment grants to help companies like Record RSS to employ new staff, providing them with the training required for businesses to thrive. The company completes about 200 playground installations each year as well as exporting product around the world. At IoG Saltex the company is launching its latest piece of play equipment – but it's under wraps until the show.
After 10 years of designing award-wining play spaces in Scotland, Jupiter Play has expanded its operation into England and Wales with the introduction of a hand-crafted product range from FHS Holztechnik. The company now has an office in Nottingham and brought in the skills of landscape architect Jane Fortescue to offer a holistic approach to designing places for play.
The latest addition to the Inclusive Play UK family of products is the Cyclops – a 2.4m structure that incorporates wireless DECT technology and solar power to bring sight and sound adventures to outdoor play.Cyclops utilises optical and secure wireless technology to enable children to look round the park and hopefully find and talk to their Cyclops friend.
An LCD screen is set into the structure and children can move the controls to adjust their view. The screen is housed at an optimum height for wheelchair users, with a recessed footwell to allow them to get close to the action.
Children can then talk to the other Cyclops user, who could be anywhere in the park. An induction loop is included for the hard-of-hearing and add-ons such as an LED volume indicator and "squeaky" voice-changer should make this a technological stimulation of the senses.
A mini Stonehenge carved from Cornish glacial granite is set to attract attention on Russell Leisure's stand and highlights the theme of natural play products as the company launches Cosmo rope play structures, new roundabouts and see-saws.
PLAY AT SALTEX
Tuesday 8 September, 1.30pm
Seminar by Play England's Catherine Ross: Play funding – making the most of what's available
Wednesday 9 September, 2.15pm
Seminar by Play England's Judith Carrie: Inclusive play – the priorities
Thursday 10 September, 1.30pm
Seminar by Wicksteed sales director Stuart Wetherell: Natural Play – Landscape-led design.