Barry Leahey MBE

Barry Leahey MBE


President

Bio

Joined Playdale:

2004

About me:

My name is Barry Leahey, and some might say I’m synonymous with fun, innovation, and maybe even a bit of entrepreneurial spirit. As President of Playdale Playgrounds, I’ve had the privilege of transforming a company with a long history (centuries, in fact!) into a global leader, bringing smiles to kids in over 50 countries. But my journey to slides and swings wasn’t always so clear-cut.

It all started in health clubs and telecoms, a far cry from the laughter of playgrounds. But in 2004, I joined Playdale as Sales & Marketing Director, and that’s when I discovered my true calling. It wasn’t just about selling equipment; it was about creating spaces that sparked imagination and encouraged healthy play.

The UK market offered great opportunities, but I saw even greater potential beyond our borders. So, I took the lead on Playdale’s international expansion, racking up countless air miles and forging partnerships across continents. It was a whirlwind, but it paid off – today, half of our business comes from exports, and we’re aiming to push that number even higher.

At the end of the day, I’m more than just a businessman; I’m a champion for the power of play. Leading Playdale has been an incredible journey, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring joy to countless children and inspire others to dream big. After all, every playful moment, every burst of laughter, contributes to a legacy that matter.

Best thing about my job:

I am extremely proud of Playdale’s growth and success, particularly our export journey. We now have overseas distributors in 50 countries covering 57% of the global population. To lead a dedicated, passionate team that delivers 60 million smiles around the world is quite something. There’s no better job satisfaction than providing fun through play.

I could not be more proud of my team and the awards we’ve received over the years. A particular huge honour was to be presented with a BOFTA (Board Of Trade) award in early 2019 by International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP in recognition of our excellence in international trade, our innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism. In 2017, I was awarded an MBE for my contributions to UK trade and exports. It’s an honor I hold dear, alongside being recognized as North West Director of the Year and even making it onto the list of the UK’s Most Ambitious Business Leaders in the Daily Telegraph.

But my passion extends far beyond the world of business. I share my entrepreneurial experience with the next generation as an Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University Management School and Professor of Practice at the University of Cumbria. I also actively support the NSPCC, a children’s charity, and leverage my network to raise awareness and funds for the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Children’s Fund of which I am Patron.

Favourite playground:

The Caribbean Cove Adventure Playground at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth…Dorset’s biggest adventure playground. As far as exhilarating, colourful, themed playgrounds go they don’t come much bigger or better than this! It was a hugely rewarding team effort from beginning to end. This said I really do rank all our playgrounds equally; they bring happiness and smiles to children’s faces so that makes them all my favourites!

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What our customers say...

"We have been delighted with the work Playdale has done to bring to life Caribbean Cove at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park. At all stages of design, installation and commissioning we were able to collaborate to ensure the finished product met the overall brief. The quality and range of choices we had far exceeded our expectations and our young guests have had a thrilling time exploring all the great play opportunities that have been created to suit a wide range of ages."
Tamsin Mutton-McKnight, General Manager of the Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth, Dorset
"Once again very happy with the service that Playdale have provided from start to finish.  The equipment is made to a high standard and is excellent quality.  Highly recommended!"
Janine Pierce, Headteacher, Yarlside Academy, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
"The service from Playdale has been fantastic every step of the way, and every member of staff in the chain has been excellent. Oak Tree Animals' Charity is delighted with their final product, I couldn't recommend them more highly."
Holly Parkinson, Oak Tree Animals' Charity
"The installers were complete stars, we were so pleased with them. They were helpful, professional and polite; could not have been better. We were extremely impressed!"
Mary Jackson, River Parish Council, Kent