Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Meet the Play Service Team

Helen Pinder - Play Service Manager

Helen Pinder.jpg

I have been employed as the manager for play services at Alder Hey since January 2018. Previously, I was a Health Play Specialist at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. I qualified as a Nursery Nurse in 1989 & commenced my career in the NHS as a Nursery Nurse on a surgical ward. In 1999 I trained as a Health Play Specialist & continued to work within various departments & wards at RMCH.

I enjoyed my career as a Health Play Specialist & was keen to help & support children & young people with anxieties relating to hospital.
One of my main interests was supporting children on the autism spectrum & in 2014 I was part of a small team that won a Nursing Times award for developing a reasonable adjustment procedure for our patients with complex needs & diversities.

I am now committed to leading a fantastic team of Play Specialists & Play Assistants at Alder Hey.

I have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of staff, patients & parents at Alder Hey, I feel very welcomed & honoured to be a part of the Alder Hey family.

Anna Kelly - Health Play Specialist

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Before I started my career path at Alder Hey I spent ten years working with children and young people with ranging abilities both in the UK and overseas in an array of educational settings; involving a bilingual kindergarten, day nurseries, primary schools, children’s centres, a women’s refuge and a behavioural unit which supported children with challenging behaviour and school related phobias. In 2009 I gained an NVQ 3 in childcare. In 2013 I achieved a BA at Edge Hill University; in Early Childhood studies and in June 2017 I completed a foundation degree in Healthcare Play Specialism.

Currently, I am a Health Play Specialist on ward 4C. My role involves using play as a therapeutic tool to prepare children for frightening and sometimes uncomfortable medical procedures and pending treatment; this involves working closely with doctors, nurses and other members of the multidisciplinary team. Additionally, I distract children during medical procedures, implement fun and interactive therapeutic activities on the ward and build strong rapports with our patients and their families to promote a positive patient experience.

Whilst working in Alder Hey I have had the pleasure of supporting children and young people and being an integral part of their treatment journey; this has involved collaborative work with patients and has involved song writing, storytelling and using art to self-express and channel inner feelings.

In 2018 I came first in the NAHPS (National Association Health Play Specialists) ‘Play in hospital’ ‘every day superhero’s’ display competition.

Please click on the links below to see some of my work:

• Music video   
• Alder Rap
• Super hero -Display video

I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of Alder Hey and look forward to enhancing my knowledge and skillset as I progress further into my role.

Debra Harden – Play Leader

I started my career journey at Alder Hey in March 2016. Previous to this I worked in various positions such as a child minder, nanny, nursery nurse and a nursery manager of a private day nursery before perusing a career with the NHS.

In 1995 I gained my CCE in childcare and in 1998 I gained my NNEB diploma in nursery nursing as well as gaining many NVQ’s in childcare along the way.

Currently, I am a play leader on Renal Dialysis unit and ward 3C. My job role is to provide a warm and welcoming, safe, child friendly environment that meets all children’s needs and interests, as well as providing developmental and fun play activities that help and support children’s recovery. I also ensure I build good relationships with all the patients and their families to promote a positive hospital experience.

Since working for Alder Hey I have had the pleasure in working closely with the fundraising team to help raise funds that benefit our amazing hospital. I have worked in partnership with John Lennon airport and been part of the board to help promote Autism awareness at the airport. I was honoured to be asked to take part in the Alder Hey and Matalan superstars Campaign in 2018, where alongside 5 other colleagues and 4 children ambassador’s for the hospital, we modelled the new superstar’s pyjamas for the campaign. I was also part of the Alder Hey and Matalan choir that was featured in the Reach for the stars Christmas single and video which together raised £623,000.00 for the hospital. I thoroughly enjoy getting involved in projects outside my role and this campaign with Matalan was just another way I am able to support the hospital and more importantly the children within Alder Hey.

I feel very lucky to have built strong relationships with my colleagues and feel valued and very much part of the working team. I am privileged to be part of such a special team of people who dedicate their time to improving the children’s journey as well as providing an amazing network of support to families in some difficult times.


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Alder Hey Children's Charity