How We Created Our Puzzle Days For Schools


Hello my name is Gavin Ucko and I am the founder of the Happy Puzzle Company. Almost 24 years ago, a series of bizarre coincidences led me to starting an organisation called 'The Happy Puzzle Company' which I ran at that stage from my student bedroom. My original idea was to run educational birthday parties - giving parents the opportunity to choose some entertainment for the obligatory must have everyone in the class' party that would not only be fun, but which would result in their children learning something in the process. I used all sorts of weird and wonderful, colourful 3D puzzles that looked fun to the children before we had even started taking part. The aim was to get the children to prove themselves, through solving the puzzles ( which were really quite tricky ) that they could go and achieve things which they didn't expect to be able to achieve. 'Achieve' really was the key word - no 'winners' getting a tacky prize. It meant that every single child at every single party would come away feeling absolutely fabulous - because they had all done something which they didn't expect to be able to do. It worked, and better than I had ever dared to dream.

Suddenly, I was being invited to summer fetes, fundraising evenings, PTA events, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate functions - in fact just about every type of event you could ever think of. The idea of solving puzzles at a function seemed to be catching on. 

Then one Tuesday night, I believe back in March 1996, came a telephone call that was to change everything. I had been booked for the following weekend, to bring the puzzles to the PTA event at a school in  Mill Hill, North West London - however the chair of the PTA had found their event clashed with another local event - so they decided to cancel the evening. Nevertheless, the chair of the committee did not want to let me down, so she asked me if I would be willing to come and run the programme during the school day for the children instead. So I did. And that was where the idea of a 'Puzzle Challenge Day' was born - Thinking Skills programme all day long, with hundreds of students of all ages taking part. We've never looked back! And now with a team of 30, we run around 1500 Puzzle Challenge Days in schools across the UK every year. With the success of our Puzzle Challenge Days, we went on to introduce three more programmes for schools with many more in the pipeline. 

So there you have it. Thats how i came up with the concept of our first ever Puzzle Challenge Day. Needless to say the company has grown quite a bit since my student days, but the company's ethos has never changed. Intrested in booking a Puzzle Challenge day or one of our other workshops for your school? Then click below to check availabltiy. And before I forget, Happy Puzzling!