Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson confirmed as ukactive Chair as she sets vision for an active Britain for all

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28 April 2015

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson confirmed as ukactive Chair as she sets vision for an active Britain for all

Crossbench Peer Tanni Grey-Thompson was today announced as the new independent Chair of not-for-profit health body ukactive.

Baroness Grey-Thompson will turn her seasoned campaigning voice to the crucial issue of turning the tide of physical inactivity over the coming years and ensure that the next government turns rhetoric into action on the inactivity crisis.

Within the announcement that Baroness Grey-Thompson, who is one of the most successful British athletes of all time, set out clear objectives to drive ukactive's campaign to get Britain more active to the heart of future government policy.

These are:

  • For the government to have created a long-term, cross-department strategy for the establishment of physical activity best practice across all public bodies


  • For the existing work of the physical activity sector to be recognised by government as a key driver of health and wellbeing for the nation


  • For the prioritisation of skills and a 'wellbeing workforce' to be recognised and actioned by the relevant government departments


  • For physical activity to be a top-tier priority for Public Health England, and for preventative health, led by activity policy, to be a key priority for the Department of Health


  • For local authorities and schools to have individual physical activity plans spanning the areas of active travel, leisure provision, active aging and to be supported by central government in the development of these strategies but also to be held to account by government

Over the past two years there has been a fundamental shift in the language used by government and agencies such as Sport England when it comes to discussing physical activity as a health outcome in its own right, independent from its impact on weight management. Baroness Grey-Thompson has said she plans to expand this change in language to definitive action backed up by long-term investment. 

The appointment marks the end of the tenure of Fred Turok who announced his intent to step down from the position at the conclusion of a twelve month consultation reviewing the governance structure of ukactive with the ukactive membership and partners. Turok served as chairman for 8 years and was instrumental in turning ukactive into the leading not for profit national physical activity organisation.

Commenting on her appointment, Baroness Grey-Thompson said:

 "With the formation of a new government shortly upon us, there has never been a better time to shout the message of more people, more active, more often loud and clear. I look forward to working with Steve and the ukactive team to make the greatest possible impact on the health of the nation in partnership with the thousands of ukactive members, partners and stakeholders spread the length and breadth of the UK."

For too long, physical activity has been - in the government's eyes - the poor cousin of sport and overshadowed by obesity. The work of ukactive up until this point has thrown into stark relief the fact that inactivity is a killer, and inaction on this issue is no longer an option.

What we have set out today will provide the base for the next five years of campaigning, lobbying and encouraging government and its executives to ensure that we turn good rhetoric into real action in order to turn the tide of inactivity and get every part of our society moving again."

Recent milestones in the inactivity agenda

January 2014

ukactive publishes 'Turning the tide of inactivity' report that shows the rising issue of physical inactivity across the UK. It is the first time that the scale and impact of inactivity was established in this way, providing compelling evidence for establishing it as a public health concern in its own right.

July 2014

Public Health officials joined with physical activity sector compatriots for the first ever Moving More Living More cross-country roadshows.

October 2014

Public Health England responded to the call for a national strategy with the publication of the new National Framework Everybody Active Every Day

October 2014

NHS England publishes its 5 -year Forward View which places preventative health care at the heart of its long-term strategy underpinned by physical activity promotion

November 2014

ukactive releases the follow-up report to Turning the Tide of Inactivity with Steps to Solving Inactivity. The report found that local authorities had since doubled their allocated budgets from public health grants into physical activity.

November 2014

MPs gathered in Westminster for an historic parliamentary debate on physical inactivity. It had been an 800 year wait, but parliament is now on board with the physical inactivity narrative - a clear indication of how far the pendulum has swung.

January 2015

A study by Cambridge University finds that physical inactivity is responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity: (

February 2015

The Health Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and its associated bodies. CEO David Stalker giving evidence at the Health Select Committee on 'The impact of physical activity and diet on health'

March 2015

The Health Select Committee Report finds that physical activity should be a priority in its own right and calls on the government to prioritise physical activity interventions at a local and national level.

April 2015

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson joins ukactive as Chair, setting out five-point plan to get Britain more active over the coming Parliament 

Notes to Editors

Baroness Grey-Thompson

Baroness Grey-Thompson was made a crossbench member of the House of Lords in 2010 working on Sport & Physical Activity, Welfare Reform and Legal Aid issues. She is one of the most successful British Athletes ever, winning a total of 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 golds, holding over 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.

She has served on the board of the National Disability Council, The Sports Council for Wales, the English Lottery Awards Panel and UK Sport., and also sat for three years on the Mission 2012 panel (part of UK Sport).

Grey-Thompson currently sits on the board of the London Marathon (2007), the board of Transport for London (2008) and the London Legacy Development Corporation. She is Chair of the Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation Commission on the Future of Women's Sport.

Grey-Thompson is patron of numerous charities including Sportsleaders UK, a trustee of V, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, Sportsaid Foundation and the Wembley Stadium Legacy Trust. She is an Academy member of the Laureus World Sport Academy and a trustee of the Sport for Good Foundation. She is also a Council member for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and an International Inspiration Ambassador.

As well as this she is the Patron of the Tees Wheelyboats Club, a group providing disabled people with access to the River Tees, and a board member of the Tony Blair Sports Foundation.

In July 2011 Grey-Thompson was announced as the President of the Leadership 20:20 Commission, the Commission on the future leadership of Civil Society

In 1993 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "services to sport", advanced in 2000 to OBE again for "services to sport" and then in 2005 was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

She has received numerous honorary degrees including Honorary Doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Greenwich, Bath University, Newcastle University, Oxford Brookes University, Liverpool John Moores, Leicester University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Hull, University of Exeter, Herriott Watt University, the Open University, University of Wales Newport, the University of Wales, Leeds Metropolitan University, Loughborough University (both a Master and Doctorate), Teesside University, York and Ripon College, University of Swansea, University of Glamorgan, UWIC, University of Surrey, Southampton University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Staffordshire University and Cardiff University.

In November 2012 she was appointed to the three-person commission that has been set up by the International Cycling Union to investigate the Lance Armstrong doping affair.

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.

Steven Ward

Steven has been a key member of the ukactive team since joining ukactive in 2006, originally helping to create the highly successful public affairs arm of the organisation. He was appointed as a Director of the organisation in 2009, originally as Public Affairs Director and subsequently taking on the remit of Development Director in 2011.

In the role of Development Director, Steven supported Stalker in the development of the strategy that successfully transitioned ukactive into its new brand and helped reposition the organisation as a leading not for profit health body whilst never forgetting its base as the main membership body for the health and fitness sector.

Throughout his time at ukactive, Steven has been a high profile member of the leadership team, speaking at industry and stakeholder events to carry the ukactive message and act as a key contact point for members and stakeholders alike.

Steven was the creative driver of ukactive's rebrand and its recent "Turning the Tide of Inactivity" Campaign which won Trade Association Campaign of the Year at the Public Affairs Awards.

For more information please contact Jon Wiffen, Communications Manager, ukactive: 0207 400 8616


About ukactive

ukactive is the UK's leading not-for-profit health body for the physical activity sector, with over 3,500 members from activity providers to major consumer brands, training facilities and equipment manufacturers. Members come from across the private, public and third sector and are united by ukactive's longstanding and uncompromising commitment to getting more people, more active, more often.

ukactive facilitates big impact partnerships, conceives and drives breakthrough campaigns, conducts critical research and galvanises key stakeholders to develop and deliver key projects that support and champion the physical activity agenda. The organisation's efforts are centred on supporting a national ambition to "Turn the tide of physical inactivity".


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