A FATHER whose dad and toddler group developed into a national phenomenon has now written books about the experience.
Mark Chester, 41, set up Who Let the Dads Out? in 2003 – named after the Baha Men hit of a similar name – attached to Hoole Baptist Church where his family worships.
It was intended to complement the parent and toddler group run by his wife Su, a teacher at Hoole Primary School, for around 10 years.
From these humble beginnings, the concept took off and there are now 50 groups across the country attached to churches of all denominations.
“We needed to do something for the dads and we did, on a Saturday morning, just once a month,” explained Mark, father of Meg, 14 and Billy, 11. “It proved successful and it grew from there.”
Mark’s books Who Let The Dads Out? and School’s Out, Dad’s About tell the story behind the project with practical advice on how to set up such a group.
Football fan Mark, from Hoole, who works full-time for his beloved Liverpool FC as its community family officer, says dads groups are still relatively rare.
“Each new group affects a family in a positive way. It also gives mums a morning off which has a good positive effect on the whole family.”
He explained there is very little difference between a dads group and a mums group, apart from there being more chat about football and cars.
“From my experience dads want to talk about their kids as well. A lot of it is free play where the dads play with the children.
“It’s good for children to mix with other children and be in the room with positive male role models. A lot of children experience their early years and education predominantly around women,” added Mark, who said the Chester dads also socialise and play football together.
As a Christian, Mark says his faith is important to him and other dads are offered the opportunity to explore their own spirituality but insists there is ‘no pressure’.
Nowadays the Chester Who Let the Dads Out? group, which meets on the first Saturday in every month, is run by Ben Waugh in the Baptist church’s Lighthouse Centre in Westminster Road.
For more details call the church on 01244 312037.