At Edinburgh’s Dads Rock playgroup it’s Father’s Day every week

John Paul Stothard with son Danny at the Wester Hailes class. Picture: Toby Williams
John Paul Stothard with son Danny at the Wester Hailes class. Picture: Toby Williams
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FATHER’S Day may officially be just once a year – but for those who attend Edinburgh’s award-winning Dads Rock playgroups it comes round every weekend.

The playgroups are similar to others – noisy, messy, toddler get-togethers – but with a major difference: there are no mums.

Some just want to play with their kids, others want to talk to other dads – it wasn’t long after we started that we got questions about nappy rash, I think men find it easier asking other men these questions.

Thomas Lynch

And now the organisation, whose groups have been used by hundreds of men and their children since they were launched four years ago, is expanding to meet demand.

It is set to open two more father-and-child playgroups as increasing numbers of dads want to have somewhere to take their kids, meet other fathers and give mums a break.

The charity was set up by dads David Marshall and Thomas Lynch when they couldn’t find any groups which would offer vital bonding time between them and their kids – without the feeling they were being judged by critical mothers.

Thomas, 42, said: “The playgroups are fun, positive places for dads, granddads and their children to come to play, learn and meet up with other families.

“Some just want to play with their kids, others want to talk to other dads – it wasn’t long after we started that we got questions about nappy rash, I think men find it easier asking other men these questions.

“Most dads say they want to come because it gives them some time on their own with their children. We love mums, of course; it’s just that there are lots of playgroups out there for mums, run by mums, but this is for dads, run by dads.”

From June, Craigmillar and the Old Town will have Dads Rock groups – adding to those in Wester Hailes and Granton.

“There’s a focus on playing musical instruments – as loudly as possible – and there’s a healthy snack and storytime, then it all ends with the song We Will Rock You. It’s 90 minutes of good fun,” he added.

Every Saturday a new morning group will run at the Venchie in Craigmillar while on Sundays a playgroup will be held at 6VT in the Vennel, near the Grassmarket.

Thomas said: “It’s amazing to be able to do more for families. The Big Lottery have kindly supported us with this work, and we’re looking forward to playing alongside more dads and kids – they should expect a lot of noise, we’re not called Dads Rock for nothing.”

The charity, which also offers free antenatal classes for dads, as well as counselling for both parents if needed – David has spoken often of the depression he suffered after his daughter was born – is also gearing up for Father’s Day this weekend.

“For the third year running we’re taking over the Royal Botanic Garden for a day of free family fun to celebrate Father’s Day,” said Thomas.

“We’re offering hands-on, exciting activities and giving families the chance to explore the Gardens.

“This is also The Year of the Dad, so it’s a great opportunity to come together and have fun.”

• Dad’s Rock Father’s Day events run at the Botanics from 11am to 4pm.