London Play was sad to hear of the death earlier this year of Donne Buck, playworker, campaigner and archivist of children’s play.
Donne Buck was a playleader and campaigner for children’s right to play for over six decades. A significant figure in the history of play, in his long career Donne established and ran adventure playgrounds in London, Stevenage and Peterborough.
Within a year of arriving from New Zealand in the 1950s, Buck started working at the very first adventure playground in Hackney – based on a bomb-site in Shoreditch – and never looked back. Over the following six decades he captured images of the inner-city playgrounds he worked in, beginning with post-war play spaces, and this gradually evolved into an internationally significant collection of photographs, housed since 2015 in the V&A Museum of Childhood archive.
He was an active campaigner for children’s rights and promoted the importance of play in education and social development, working with central government, local councils and international agencies.
“Children will always play – they played in the death camps, now they play in refugee camps, they’ll play wherever they are – but it’s the quality of play that really affects whether it develops them to their full potential or not. That’s what people like me are engaged in – trying to make sure that children play, and when they play, they get the most out of it.”
All of us at London Play extend our sympathies to Donne’s widow Jane. An article about Donne in his local paper is here.