In 2007 the UK government announced a National Play Strategy for England, along with £235 million of public expenditure to implement it. This followed an earlier government decision in 2001 to allocate £155 million of National Lottery funding to improving children's play opportunities. The funding was directed at public playgrounds, adventure playgrounds, playwork training, good practice guidance and local and national coordination and policy. This paper gives a personal account of the story behind this unprecedented degree of support for children's play, and offers some thoughts on how and why it came about. It draws on the experiences and observations of the author, who for a time worked closely with those making and carrying out the key decisions.