Business success is child’s play for Barry

Playdale Playgrounds Ltd

Published on 28 November 2017

An expert in international business and manufacturing has been recognised by his former university.

Barry Leahey MBE graduated in 1996 with a degree BSc Sports Science from the University of Sunderland. This week he was named the University of Sunderland’s Alumni Achiever of the Year at the annual awards ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

Barry, 43, originally from Wigan, is Managing Director at the largest UK manufacturer of outdoor children’s playground equipment, Playdale Playgrounds Ltd. He grew the family-owned business based in Cumbria from £5m to £15m in seven years.

In 2011 he led the company into the export market, with the ambition to take the company into 40 countries by Playdale’s 40th anniversary in 2018. They now operates in 46 countries, including Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.

Playdale Playgrounds Ltd went on to be named UK Export Champion, Family Business Manufacturer of the Year, National SME Exporter of the Year and Commonwealth Export Champion.

In 2017 Barry received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to export and international trade. 

He said: “I’m extremely surprised, humbled and honoured by this award – and really quite emotional.

“I embraced my time at the University of Sunderland. You need to make the most of the opportunities that will come your way daily - the world is a competitive place and every little bit will matter.”

In recognition of his exceptional career, Barry Leahey MBE has been named a University of Sunderland Alumni Achiever of the Year.