Below is this years Outstanding Leadership finalists.

You can find out more about each finalist and the inspiring work they have done by clicking on the image below. To submit a vote click on the ‘Vote’ button underneath the entry you would like to vote for.

Please note you can only place one vote for this category.

Congratulations to all our finalists, we wish them the best of luck in this 2nd stage.

Holly Ainger

"Holly is Marketing Director at Nuffield Health and manages a team of 25 including marketing, CRM and video – Holly managed this newly formed team through unprecedented times when COVID-19 restrictions closed our network of gyms.

Throughout lockdown the main objective was member retention/engagement. Holly spearheaded the development and launch of a brand-new online digital fitness platform, Nuffield Health 24/7. Originally this started with PT’s filming content from home, but within 3 months a new app had been created and a professional studio had been built. The platform supported members whilst we were closed and we filmed brand new content at our studio. She then created a member communication plan to ensure they were kept informed about the various lockdown scenarios in place sending millions of emails throughout the closures. To align to our purpose to build a healthier nation, Holly made the decision to open up the platform to the nation ensuring everyone could access our content without a membership.

Holly also managed an incredibly complex re-plan of our multi-million pound ATL TV campaign, originally planned for January 2021 but was pushed back to April due to lockdown, negotiating with media houses to ensure there were no cancellation penalties. The campaign was a great success, seeing record-breaking joiners returning post lockdown and our highest ever number of online joiners in the month of April 21.
With 90% of the fitness and wider marketing team on furlough, delivering a brand-new online fitness platform, managing member communications and planning an ATL campaign was a challenge especially navigating the uncertainty of gym closures all whilst working remotely, Holly demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities with her team and her key stakeholders always putting her team first ensuring a strong balance between those working and furloughed. She focused on the wellbeing and personal development of her team during a difficult time, kept morale high with regular updates to those on furlough to ease the feeling of isolation, as well as weekly quizzes with the team, prizes and treats sent to them at home encouraging coffee catch ups with colleagues.

As a result of the challenges faced, Holly now has an expanded video team to deliver the increased video output and a larger CRM team too. Nuffield Health 24/7 is now available on a self-pay basis helping reach new audiences, providing access to those not living near a physical gym and on a lower income."

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Jane Nickerson

Jane Nickerson MBE is the Chief Executive of Swim England.
Jane has led Swim England, the National Governing Body for swimming, through the challenging Covid period. Jane remains at the forefront of lobbying efforts for support for the sector and for the long term investment we need into the facilities that support communities to be active up and down the country, commissioning the ""Decade of Decline"" report highlighting this important issue. Her services to swimming through the pandemic were recently recognised with an MBE.
As well as dealing with the ongoing issues caused by the pandemic, Jane has lifted her head to keep an eye on the future needs of the sector. With staff shortages frequently listed by pool owners and operators as a barrier to expansion and Swim England insight revealing that 600,000 people in the UK are currently missing out on swimming lessons due to a shortage of 8,000 swimming teachers, Jane has overseen the introduction and expansion of Swim England’s “Recruitment Academies”.
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Mark Sesnan

"For nearly 30 years Mark has led GLL - now the UK’s largest charitable leisure social enterprise whose goal is to get communities more active.
When Covid struck, the challenges of leading an operation across Northern Ireland, Wales and England – each with their different lockdown rules and reopening timetables - were multiple.
Mark recognised that the charity would need to ‘pivot’ to provide a hybrid offer for customers under the pandemic’s ‘new normal’ of social distancing.
At home online exercise classes, car park keep fit, ‘click and collect’ library services and telephone support were all developed quickly and implemented with the goal of maintaining GLL’s role at the heart of community health and wellbeing.
Mark realised the importance of communicating the new vision with colleagues across the business. A turbo-boosted intranet would be the ‘single source of truth’ for the widely-spread organisation, allowing daily essential information updates on the business and the wider sector – including asking staff to lobby Government for more funds by signing online petitions.
Mark saw the need for a joined-up approach and reached out to partner organisations including ukactive, CLUK and Swim England helping put the sector’s case for relief funding and making multiple broadcast appearances to ‘bang the drum’ for government and local authority support while making the case for leisure to be at the forefront of the nation’s recovery post Covid. https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/18986656.boss-gll-says-lockdown-3-disaster-gym-industry/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOdhBax-CNw
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/news/news/347066&email=&pub=LOe&date=210202
Mark agreed that GLL should work with the Cabinet Office on creating a suite of videos promoting Covid Safe operation in the UK leisure sector, promoting best practice for others: https://twitter.com/cabinetofficeuk/status/1310594356718559232 The videos were released to support the three-tier system to target the spread of Covid-19, practically demonstrating the NHS Covid-19 Track and Trace App and explaining how social distancing, enhanced hygiene and pre-booking helps maintain a secure environment for staff and customers, keeping the nation active.
GLL’s Boxing Day Swims raised money for local charities: https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/hough-end-pools-boxing-day-swim-asks-for-donations-to-trussell-trust-foodbank/
In Spring 2021, with centres able to open once again, Mark relaunched the GLL Sport Foundation – the UK’s largest independent athlete support programme https://www.wales247.co.uk/112-talented-athletes-across-cardiff-to-benefit-from-44800-fund and https://www.gll.org/b2b/newsitems/gsf-awards-2021-nearly-3-000-supported-on-sporting-journey Over 60 athletes have been supported on their journey to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Mark was awarded an OBE in the 2022 Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his service during Covid 19 – particularly in relation to helping communities remain supported, active and engaged."
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June Peebles

"Edinburgh Leisure’s (EL) CEO led the organisation through the unprecedented period of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading with unflappability and transparency.

June led a small leadership team, while 90% of staff were furloughed. Combatting the uncertainty, unknowns, and volatility of the pandemic, she maintained employee engagement, by sharing daily emails, often communicating difficult decisions – e.g. no pay award, furlough and 80% of pay, and some redundancies. Starting in March 2020, these continued throughout the pandemic and their transparency has been well received and valued by employees. Fortnightly Board Meetings ensured Board Members were informed on all happenings. Officials and Councillors at the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) were also advised of significant developments and decisions about EL services. June’s strong partnership with CEC is demonstrated by additional financial support secured from CEC, ensuring EL remained afloat and continued to provide services for Edinburgh’s citizens (additional funding of up to £6m was secured in 2020/21).

Throughout lockdown, EL remained focused on its purpose and values. Although venues were closed, some projects were fast-tracked including staffing reviews, and building projects continued where possible, including retiling the Royal Commonwealth diving pool, upgrading balconies and front façade at Portobello Swim Centre and ongoing refurbishment of Warrender Swim Centre, one of EL’s much-loved, five Victorian pools and the new Meadowbank.

Services that were allowed to operate (following Scottish Government guidance) e.g., golf were available to the public and EL offered a variety of web-based activities and wellbeing information for customers under ‘Find Your Feel Good at Home’.

EL had three business months (14/09-24/12/2020) with all centres opening on an incremental basis, before Scotland entered a second lockdown (27/12/2020), resulting again in all EL services closing (except golf and outdoor tennis), staff re-furloughed and the business significantly impacted. The lockdown remained for the remainder of the financial year.
EL’s Active Communities programme plays a significant role in supporting some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people to improve their levels of activity and reduces the impact on health and social care services.

Although the service was suspended, now restarted, from 19/03– 26/10/2020, it has adapted its delivery to support those in need, with 3,210 people helped to get active; 450 people supported each week; 27 online Active Communities classes delivered each week; 3,024 wellbeing phone calls; and 807 online motivational 1-2-1’s and phone calls to people with mental health conditions. Its Active Communities programmes attracted £620,047 of funding."

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Sarah Watts

"Sarah Watts is Chief Executive of Alliance Leisure, an award-winning leisure development company which has developed over 190 leisure facilities since Sarah founded the company in 1999 representing an investment value of over £250m in leisure infrastructure.
As an SME working almost exclusively in the public leisure sector, Sarah’s goal has always been to ensure that the business adds value to those that we serve whilst treating our valued and expert supply chain with the respect they deserve. Her continued ambition is to develop high quality public leisure that contributes to social and health benefits in local communities.
During the pandemic Sarah’s objective of “survive and thrive” has been a significant focus. Firstly, survive as a business, preserve the team, and support those around her including clients, partners and supply chain. Beyond this to understand the effect on market conditions to help the business thrive and play a tangible role in both encouraging growth, confidence and investment in the sector.
Leading by example, a beacon for positivity and a tiller for pragmatism, Sarah’s primary influence on the business of Alliance is the importance she places on the team. Energising the business for over 20 years her enthusiasm never wanes and this passion has seen unprecedented growth, exemplified most recently by the team securing the next iteration of the UK Leisure Framework, placing Alliance at the heart of leisure sector infrastructure growth and operator support for this important period emerging from a pandemic.
Testament to these achievements indeed lies in leadership and the company’s recent Investors in People Silver Award report supports this. Sarah’s fostering nature has created a culture of togetherness but one with flexibility, accountability and responsibility for each member of the team’s valued inputs into the business. With foresight to see the emerging growth ahead of the curve, complementing the team with additional team members who have the Alliance DNA at their core has been part of the competency equation. Whilst recruitment and retention is an issue for much of the industry, 35% of Sarah’s staff have been with the company for 10years+ and the business has increased its business development team five-fold in the last 4 years.
Sarah’s recent appointment to the ukactive Member’s Council is yet further evidence of her dedication to the industry and respect from fellow colleagues.
Sarah is a motivating leader, entrepreneur, out-of-the-box thinker, solution-focussed visionary, friend-to-all and respected colleague."
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Deena Gillan

"When promoting to Club Manager we tasked Deena with growing the club in terms of business, usage, profits, and programming. Ensuring maximal participation in all areas, at all times, whilst maintaining “the vibe of 3-1-5” and becoming a wellbeing hub for the community.

A key member of the team since opening in 2013, transitioning from receptionist to Club Manger. Deena brought alignment and focus to our infrastructure/business objectives. Unafraid of a challenge she completed IOSH & PPOC courses, then completely overhauled our entire pool plant/Health & Safety processes. The knowledge and expertise she developed here was priceless when it came to operating safely under covid restrictions.

Promoting within a team can be a difficult transition, especially just before a global pandemic hits. Deena’s dynamic approach, growth mindset and mantra that “nothing is impossible” meant that during 2 years of uncertainty 3-1-5 didn’t just survive but thrived. Growing by 18% in members and 26% in revenue compared to pre-covid times and seeing more members, participating more often than ever before!

Determination and Communication are key for any leader, her skills here were showcased when she liaised with local authorities (during times indoor group exercise was not allowed under restrictions), to negotiate a way to allow 3-1-5 to facilitate these indoor classes. Helping 460 members suffering with long term mental/physical conditions.

The support offered through her “hearts and minds” style of leadership, means every employee feels valued, and know she cares about them as individuals. During the lockdowns, Deena kept in-touch consistently, holding team meetings, regular 1:1s and appraisals; assessing individual circumstances and planning for their professional/personal development.

Utilising covid as a positive disruptor Train to retain, was the motto, with employees encouraged to utilise the break to retrain. She has retained ALL key members of our team, and over 95% of the entire team to this day.

Through effective weekly communication, Deena kept our members informed, updated, and engaged, members kept direct debits running throughout, some even sending in cheques to help towards running costs. Within 3 weeks of reopening in April 2021 we had returned to pre-covid membership levels.

Whilst embracing all protocols/legislation, Deena delivered these in a way that wasn’t intrusive or scary, notices were fun and in company branding (no red/yellow tape and menacing caution signs), team trained on friendliness, concentrating on customers comfort and enjoyment, allowed the club to be a sanctuary away from the pandemic."

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Victoria Irving

"Victoria is GLL’s Health Referral Manager in Belfast – leading a team of eight dedicated exercise professionals delivering 12-week physical activity programmes across the city tackling health inequality.
‘Healthwise’ helps inactive and sedentary adults make lifestyle changes that improve their physical and mental health while delivering cardiac and cancer rehabilitation programmes in partnership with the Public Health Agency, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and charities.
Between March 2020 and February 2022 Victoria has led on the delivery of a hybrid programme ensuring participants can access the service whether in person or via virtual platforms.
These interventions helped the most vulnerable prioritise their health and wellbeing – with those recovering from chronic conditions completing their necessary rehabilitation before returning to GLL pools, gyms and exercise classes in Belfast.
Since 2020, Victoria has aligned the talents of her team to drive the expansion of the health offering for residents. This has seen them being selected to work on a Covid-19 Rehabilitation Pilot in partnership with the Belfast Trust and Active Belfast and securing funding for a full time Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Long Covid Recovery Coach in the city.
Her team secured short term funding to deliver an Active Mind Project which supports male adults to manage their mental health through education and exercise. They have also secured funding for an Active Ageing Coach to support leisure centres across the city to deliver age appropriate or ‘entry level’ exercise classes for Healthwise participants and 55+ members who prefer something gentler.
Victoria’s hard work and dedication to the role over the past two years has been exceptional. Her leadership is passionate, enthusiastic and totally committed to make a positive difference to the lives of those living in Belfast.
She is a great motivator and communicator, adeptly navigating the ‘new normal’ demands of the blended approach to in centre and home working.
Under Victoria’s stewardship, the Healthwise programme delivery in Belfast has been celebrated by the Public Health Agency as an example of best practice and adopted by other health organisations and local authorities.
Victoria’s drive to expand health interventions in Belfast is clear to see and she is an extremely valued member of the GLL team in the city.
In 2021 – Belfast’s Healthwise team made 13,207 interactions with Physical Activity on Referral Scheme (PARS) participants.
£177k of funding was raised in 2020/21 and an additional £26.5K secured for 2022."
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Simon Lane

"Serco Leisure had a much-respected boss in Simon Bailey. He’d led us through COVID, he’d been at the helm for our first ever ukactive Outstanding Organisation award and he was someone universally respected around the business. So, when Simon Lane joined in May 2021, he was stepping into big shoes.

But in just nine months, Simon Lane has transformed Serco Leisure. In that short space of time, he’s done more to alter the destiny of this business than any MD previously. We’re on an even financial footing, the mood around the business is one of positivity, we’re more in tune with our customers’ needs and our commercial focus is better than it’s ever been. January 2022 H&F membership sales and net gain movement were the highest in the company’s history and our national swim programme has increased over the past few months to be at 145% of pre-Covid numbers.

Thanks to Simon, we’re now more connected with our workforce than at any point before. Since joining back in May 21, he’s introduced Employee Voice Committees (EVCs), where front line colleagues have the chance to spend a day with him, share feedback, voice concerns, all geared towards making life better for the business and ultimately our customers. EVCs have already run six times with great ideas coming in at each.

‘Ask Simon’ was recently introduced. A platform giving a 24/7 route to the leadership team. Colleagues send in questions, ideas, feedback, directly reaching Simon and his team. Ask Simon is there whenever people have got an idea that could help our company improve. Within 5 days of launch, we’d had over 30 responses. Those ideas will be discussed at senior leadership meetings and the best ones implemented across all our contracts.

Back to the Floor Days, Reverse Mentoring – all great new initiatives also introduced by Simon.

Simon’s rapidly made the kind of mark on this business others would have taken years to achieve. Significant and rapid change inevitably creates nervousness and apprehension with some people, but it’s testament to his leadership skills, that just nine months into his tenure, there isn’t a single person who isn’t 100% committed to his vision for the company.

Simon Lane’s someone who’s shown outstanding leadership qualities in his short time with Serco Leisure, which looks destined to help this company assume its place again at the top table of leisure operators in the UK."

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Outstanding Leadership Award

Below is this years Physical Activity Hero finalists.

You can find out more about each finalist and the inspiring work they have done by clicking on the image below. To submit a vote click on the ‘Vote’ button underneath the entry you would like to vote for.

Please note you can only place one vote for this category.

Congratulations to all our finalists, we wish them the best of luck in this 2nd stage.

Charmaine Daley

"The most powerful qualities when it comes to being a physical activity hero are passion, ambition, relatability and ability to care for all- including those who you’ve never met before. These qualities are embodied by Charmaine. Her journey to becoming a physical activity hero started after the birth of her second son and the second experience of post-natal depression, where Charm’s Mental Health was at an all-time low. Fast forward nine months of courage gathering, Charm went to her first community Zumba class. More important than the weight she lost was the feeling of getting back to herself, and this inspired her to train to become a Zumba instructor.

Since qualifying, Charm has gone on to establish extremely popular and welcoming community sessions that are full of women of all activity backgrounds. Her ability is evidenced in the reviews she receives from participants and other deliverers alike. One deliverer working in New Zealand said she found Charm’s page to “see what a ‘REAL’ Z Instructor looks like!!! […] you are truly an AMAZING and INSPIRING instructor!!”, whilst one participant explained “Charm has brought so much happiness to so many of us (more than she knows) and is a ray of sunshine”. The focus on happiness and inspiration rather than aching muscles and weight dropped speaks volumes for the nature of her sessions and her ability to reach real women who don’t engage with other provision.

Charm has displayed a passion for helping those most in need by dedicating a huge proportion of her time raising money for good causes through the power of Zumba. To date, Charm has raised money for organisations such as Nottingham Central Women’s Aid, Emmanuel House Support Centre and Helen Lowenstein Memorial Trust.

When the This Girl Can Nottingham Project was looking for a Community Activator to help drive the project on the ground, Charmaine was the perfect fit. From delivering Socially Distanced Street Zumba in Bulwell at the height of lockdown, to working with and empowering local deliverers to deliver in their own communities, she has done it all. Charm successfully built strong and meaningful partnerships with a range of local and community partners, with ongoing in-person and email correspondence. Without her passion and drive, the project would not have reached the levels of success it did. And thanks to Charm’s effort, we are confident that the legacy of This Girl Can Nottingham will continue."

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Paul Smith

In 1991 Paul’s Royal Navy Career was brought to an abrupt end and his life changed forever. While returning to his ship from a period of leave he was involved in a Road Traffic Accident and sustained extensive injuries to his brain; spine; shoulders, neck, plus hips and knee., He became seriously unwell for 12 years (went into Lock-in Syndrome), afraid of strangers and not knowing his friends and family.

Paul lives with a migraine pressure on his brain and constant pain. Diagnosed with PTSD and depression he also has to re-learn basic daily tasks like dressing and washing every day.

Paul emerged from being seriously unwell to using his experiences to fundraise for children and teenagers with life threatening illnesses and those who have experienced traumatic events.
To date, Paul has completed 22 challenges and has raised over £2.3 million for charities including Great Ormond St, Teenager Cancer Trust, Centrepoint, Kiya Survivors, Oakley Water Caravan Foundation and Save the Children.
Paul has pushed himself in his wheelchair, from various Naval bases around the UK to London and up the Rock of Gibraltar; abseiled down the Spinnaker Tower and thrown himself out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane to complete a tandem parachute jump.
In 2019, Paul took on what he thought was his final physical challenge. Paul rowed solo across the channel in aid of Breast Cancer Haven in memory of his friend Marjorie Anne Walker. And last year Paul came out of physical fundraising retirement to raise £11,000 for Brain Tumour Research, this time crawling on his hands and knees for 7 hours 10mins to reach the summit of Mount Snowdon.

Paul was honoured, humbled and proud to be nominated and mentioned in the 2016 New Year Honours and in April 2016 Her Majesty The Queen bestowed Paul with the O.B.E.
Paul is a qualified UK Athletics Event Group Coach and is regularly seen at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre either delivering track sessions or indoor sport specific training.
Despite Paul’s injuries over 30 years ago, he has overcome his difficulties and become an ambassador for Sport in the city. he is well-known to a large number of users of the Mountbatten centre and is inspirational to many. Paul trains athletes daily and spends his spare time talking to users of the centre.
Paul is also an Ambassador of Toucan Diversity(CIC) and is currently considering his next challenge.

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Julie Maver

"Julie Maver has been a swimming instructor for over 20 years at Active Life. She’s taught thousands of swimmers from 3 to 93 years old. Although she is employed as a swimming instructor she is so much more. Julie is an inspirational character not just within the centre but within the local community, having taught people to swim in the sea as well as in the pool, training people to swim the Channel, complete their first triathlon, etc as well as teaching all ages to swim in the pool. She is a pleasure to work with as she is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and mentors other swim instructors. How she has time for everyone is a miracle as she’s always being stopped by customer who have directly or indirectly been taught by her and she always has time for them.

Recently Julie has been the driving force for organising sea swimming lessons for Active Life. Not only has she spent hours looking at the tide times, creating course content, but she delivered a presentation to local sea swimmers to get them onboard as sea swim champions and recruited people to attend the sea swimming lessons. She paid for herself to become a NOWCA open water Level 2 coach to qualify and keep her knowledge up to date. This summer will see 48 people go from the pool into sea swimming lessons due to her enthusiasm for creating a journey for her swimmers.

Julie has had a connection with the local College for international students for years, having spent time abroad and developed an interest. She has taught countless international students from Japan to swim in our pools and involved them in community events as marshals and volunteers. Active Life would not have had the relationship with the College without Julie. She is involved with Active Life’s Triathlon events programme having volunteered to get on board initially as some of her swimmers were taking part and she wanted some of the international students to see different elements of UK life. Since then she has taken on roles as Swim Director, Transition Director and Finish Director and is key to the public face of the event.

Julie has recently started an inclusive swimming lesson and spent time outside of work devising the questionnaire required to understand where participants looking to be referred are physically, mentally and from a swim experience perspective. "

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Pam Radley

"Pam is a degree educated leisure professional with 18+ years experience across Oxfordshire for charitable leisure operators specializing in fitness, operations, management and publicity relations. Currently Centre Manager at the flagship White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

In this role Pam is responsible for all aspects of running of this large challenging facility with a specific focus on publicity, participation and inclusion. Leading the senior activities programme which she has doubled in size over the last twelve months with more than 200 participants each week.

Her passion for providing an inclusive and diverse range of activities for the whole community has meant the introduction &/or expansion of products such as Walking Netball, Football, Cricket and Wheelchair Basketball, Tennis and Inclusive Swimming/Gym sessions as well as new Toddlers World & Splash Pool sessions for under 5’s and a range of 'Basics' Fitness Classes targeting 11-15 years and seniors.

Pam's passion for health and fitness is clear through her dedication to her activity programmes, her engagement with local council and sporting partners and her team all working towards the goal of promoting sport and physical activity.

Such is her passion for the leisure and fitness industry that outside of her centre role Pam sits on GLL's Inclusion & Diversity working group with a specific focus on improving employment opportunities for women in the workplace as well as having filmed the GLL publicity video for Covid Secure leisure facilities with the Department for Culture Media and Sport to support public confidence in using leisure facilities during and post Covid.

Pam also filmed multiple pieces for Regional and National TV to support the leisure recovery in Oxfordshire and has recorded dozens of pieces across Local, Regional and National Radio to promote Swimming, Tennis, Fitness Classes, the GLL Sport Foundation and was critical to the success of the BBC’s Give a Gift and Kit out the Nation Campaigns in Oxfordshire. Currently doing a campaign to promote healthy lifestyles demonstrating a series of simple exercises each week on regional radio for inactive adults.

Pam has gone above and beyond on a daily basis for a number of years to promote the leisure industry and the importance of sport and physical activity and deserves to be recognized for her selfless work both within her role at White Horse Leisure & Tennis Centre and her amazing publicity work for the leisure industry in Oxfordshire."

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Fiona Roberts

"After qualifying with Future Fit Training in 2018 and becoming a Personal Trainer, Fiona started going into refuges and women’s charities in her local area to provide women who have experienced trauma, such as domestic abuse, with free exercise and classes.

In her own words “I was reminded of all the physical and mental health benefits of exercise, and it did not seem fair to me that women experiencing multiple disadvantages, such as domestic violence and sexual exploitation, face many more barriers to exercise.”

This has led to her founding the charity, The Movement, which helps match fitness professionals with charities in their local area to help promote a more trauma informed fitness industry and support women’s rights to exercise.

She is constantly breaking down barriers for exercise for women across the country who have experience significant trauma, providing a safe space for them to be free to move.

Before setting up the Movement, by going into women’s charities and refuges, she was providing a freedom to exercise and move that women with multiple disadvantages would not have been able to access.

Fiona is a true representation of what UK Actives mission is all about, taking the often difficult step to truly making physical activity more accessible to all. It is thanks to Fionas passion and drive that disadvantaged women can find happiness and health through movement, which otherwise may not have been available to them.

It is an honour to have trained Fiona and been part of her journey, and now to watch her step out the confines of traditional fitness or personal training to use her knowledge for the good of her community and enable more women to partake in physical activity.

Fionas key achievements, to name a few, include:

• Founding the Movement Charity – is now founder and CEO
• Providing a space for fitness professionals to be more trauma informed in their approach to exercise.
• Advocating for a society without poverty and disadvantage for women through her work with The Movement."

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Declan Duncan

"Declan began working in the fitness industry in 2007 after leaving his nursing career. He started his journey with the Central YMCA as a volunteer and then Fitness Instructor for the Positive Health Programme, an exercise referral programme for those living with HIV.
He then took his place as Community Programmes Manager, overseeing the Club’s Older Adults and Exercise Referral programmes, focsuing his attention on helping those who were less able to exercise to stay active and to improve their quality of life.
Growing the community programme membership by 11%, with over 1000 members of the gym being over 60. Many of these members attended the gym solely to partake in Declan’s exercise classes.
His emphasis on providing a social community for the older adults at the YMCA has been a lifeline for many of the members.
Declan has overseen the introduction of the many innovative programmes at the Club which has aimed to get those who are often inactive, active again. Including, RENEW – exercise referral for young people living with Cancer, Project Gym – engaging young men with haemophilia to exercise and Mind Body Matters – a programme to provide exercise support to students struggling with their mental health at Birbeck University.
When the pandemic struck, Declan continued to work as the main point of contact for our community members. Knowing the importance of the class activities for many of the members Declan threw himself into continuing to provide this service but just in a new format, YouTube.
What started as a way of keeping our members active and in contact during such a difficult time became a worldwide hit.
‘Loving your workouts from the US. Your smile lights up my day. My local senior center has been closed since March, so this is wonderful to have.’
‘This is my first time back to Zumba after recovering from a herniated disc and it is so wonderful.’
Declan’s videos not only provided our members with safe and effective exercises for their home, but also allowed them to see a familiar face, offering a sense of normality.
Declan started volunteering his time at Chelsea & Westminster hospital working 12 hour shifts on the COVID wards. Typifying Declan’s attitude towards helping others,
Declan has proved himself to be a ‘Physical Activity Hero’ for so many, dedicating his time to make sure that those who are least able are given to opportunity"
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Jaina Mistry

"Jaina is a true inspiration within the fitness industry. Jaina had to overcome significant challenges as a person who is registered blind to become a fitness instructor, she worked hard and sought clear support to help her on this journey. She has an inspirational story of not allowing her visual impairment to get in the way of what she wants to achieve personally and professionally. She is a qualified fitness instructor and nutritional advisor and works hard to share the key message of the benefits of being more active, more often.

She predominantly supports women to make healthier choices and improve their lifestyle, this is a population she feels have significant barriers to engaging in physical activity. Her mission is to support women in overcoming these barriers and making physical activity a key part of their everyday life. She seeks to provide simple and actionable advice to her clients and the wider population, she does not feel the need for behaviour change to be boring or difficult.

Since winning a Future Fit Legacy Award Jaina has used her new found network to not only develop herself but also to spread the vital message of inclusivity and access for all to physical activity. She has spoken at many events including the CIMPSA conference, and Include Summit to name just two. She has become a go to name within the sector for those who would like to seek insight on inclusive activity or would like to encourage women to engage in physical activity and overcome their personal challenges.

Jaina regularly appears on TV, Radio and in the printed press with her inspirational messages of making physical activity and healthy lifestyles fun, interesting and accessible. Through this medium alone she has impacted thousands, coupled with her positivity and can-do attitude acts as a true inspiration within the sector.

I believe we need more people like Jaina to be in our sector, the passion, dedication and sheer motivation she provides to others is what we need. Her passion and her approach of making small sustained improvements to your lifestyle that you enjoy, allows her to connect with people and elicit change."

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Magda Dawczak

Magda has been a pioneer for engaging individuals in physical activity. She absolutely brings the word buzz to The Hive and is a fantastic energy, one in which creates a fantastic and engaging environment for a diverse range of members within East Cambridgeshire who wish to take part in physical activity. Magda is primarily a Fitness Class instructor and has a solid following, during the course of the pandemic Magda had taken it upon herself to continue to engage with the local community via zoom and deliver online fitness classes to help keep people moving and interacting with one another using a volume of initiatives from living room Zumba through to household item Power Pump. At a time when outdoor activity was able to resume Magda was again at the helm and coordinating a busy schedule of outdoor activities utilising her in-depth knowledge creating a safe friendly environment for fitness enthusiasts from beginner to experienced to embrace physical activity. Levels of participation have continued to develop from strength to strength with Magda really going above and beyond in every aspect of her role, developing programmes working fluidly with the on-going situation proving time and again how versatile her skill set is. Magda co-ordinated a successful National Fitness Day at The Hive is September 2021 which hosted a deep array of activities featuring themes throughout the decades including 70’s, 80’s & 90’s as well as a range of challenges to create healthy competition amongst a flourishing fitness community in the heart of East Cambridgeshire. Magda has further expanded the reach of The Hive through co-ordinating and facilitating numerous events from Halloween “spooktaculars” to cake sales raising money for charities and encompassing other local organisations to partner with to make these a success, ranging from cancer research to make a wish foundation. Magda has also received a range of testimonials notably including a member “ditching their walking stick” and becoming more active and regularly attending classes of all types. A key note is the events Magda organised to support children’s mental health awareness week supporting the Junior programme within the centre to continue to develop and keep children engaged in activity at such a crucial stage of development and will help shape the future generations. Magda is truly motivational and engaging continuously yearning to provide customer excellence and social value.
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Physical Activity Hero Award