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Deborah Jans.webp


Chair / Director

I am a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist working with children and adults with additional support needs. I specialise in using technology for those who have lost their speech due to injury or accident. I also manage our SPLAT Toy Library which is a toy library for children who have additional support needs. I have been a member of Smart Play Network for many years and am very interested in spreading the word about the importance of play for all children.

I am American but have lived in Scotland for over 30 years. I have 2 children and 2 gorgeous grandchildren. I enjoy travelling around Scotland in my new electric car and have a desire to learn to play golf when I can find the time.

Ian Highley.webp

Iain Highley


I have worked in accountancy and finance all my working life. My experience ranges from professional practice to financial services and banking to local and central government and statutory bodies. I have been contracting for the last ten years because I enjoy the variety and challenge this kind of work brings. Also I hold an SHNC in accounting and am a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians. In addition I have the Financial Planning Certificate and the Mortgage Advice qualification.

Eliza Lam


Trustee / Director

My play journey ‘re-started’ in adult life as a mother of two children which brought me back to growing up in Sweden where unstructured play and forest schools formed my early childhood. As a parent, I wanted to ensure that my children would have the same experience, so I became involved in the local community in East London through the parent-led nursery as a Parent Director. As the children transitioned to primary school, I worked closely with the local school to introduce Forest School and outdoor learning into the school curriculum. I also became a Trustee at the Hackney Play Association in East London, a charity that provides play services at adventure playgrounds and through play street projects. In 2022 I moved to Edinburgh with my family, and I was lucky to be able to join Smart Play Network as a Trustee and continue to be involved in this important work. 


Outside of the world of play, I have been working in the business consultancy and financial services industry specialising in risk management, compliance and financial crime prevention for the past 20 years. 


I am a strong believer that children and young people’s health, well-being and quality of life can be improved through play and that play helps bring parents and families together in the community. 

Laura photo _edited.webp


Vice / Director

I have worked in community development roles for over 20 years and I currently manage children’s programmes and support services at Pilton Youth and Children’s Project in Edinburgh. I have experience in project development, operational and strategic management, fundraising and I understand the importance of good governance.

I have a PGDip in Community Education and an MSc in Applied Professional Studies. I am a member of the Community Learning and Development Standards Council.

In my role at PYCP I see the value of play on a daily basis. As children get messy making slime, build dens or go on scavenger hunts they are not only having endless fun but they are learning skills for life. Whether its problem solving, working as a team, coping with setbacks or taking on new challenges, play is essential for their development.  

I am honoured to be on the board of Smart Play Network who champion play at a national level and support practitioners and organisations to deliver quality play provision.

Katherine Fox.webp


Trustee / Director

I have a PhD in American history (with special focus on childhood) and have taught a variety of history courses at university and high school levels.  I’ve also worked as a Montessori guide to children between 1-3 years of age.  I am fiercely dedicated to working for animal rights, social and environmental justice, and protecting the rights of children.

The UNCRC, the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in the history of the world (one that only my home country, the United States, hasn’t ratified), identifies play as a very basic human right that all children must be free to enjoy.  This may seem frivolous, but it’s not.  Play is an absolute necessity not only for health and wellbeing, it also shapes the ways children understand and interact with the world around them, for the rest of their lives. So while play may seem unimportant, it is actually the work that one must carry out in order to be a fully functioning and engaged individual and member of society.

I am honoured to be in this role, helping to ensure that the children of Scotland have wonderfully messy, inspiring, interesting, and hilarious experiences as often as possible.

Matthew Williams


Trustee / Director

As a primary school teacher in Edinburgh, I’m driven by a passion for providing top-notch educational experiences. I’m a proud father to two wonderful boys, and I wholeheartedly believe in the transformative nature of play. It’s not only a source of joy but is the bedrock for nurturing creativity, fostering social skills, and promoting overall health and well-being. Together with my background in Psychology and a decade-long stint as a Cub Scout Leader, I’ve developed a keen understanding of the pivotal role that play has in a child’s growth.


Serving on the board of Smart Play Network is a genuine privilege for me. Ensuring that every child in Scotland has access to high-quality play experiences is a cause I wholeheartedly champion.


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