Our Board

Community Leisure UK is governed by a Board elected from and by the membership. Their collective experience helps the development of the association’s strategy and annual business plan.

The Board consists of four National Executive Directors and up to a maximum of eight Directors.

The National Executive Directors are Chair, Honorary Secretary, Vice Chair and Treasurer.

The Executive Director positions are elected to represent the regions within Community Leisure UK and / or to represent particular perspectives e.g. cultural services, single site operators.

All Directors are elected by the members of Community Leisure UK and can serve for a maximum of three 2-year terms.

National Executive Directors;

Chair – Phil Rumbelow

Phil is the former Chief Executive of Jubilee Hall Trust, retiring from his position there in May 2021. He is also the former Vice-Chair for Community Leisure UK and was a Non-Executive Director of ukactive, and chaired their Membership Council.

Honorary Secretary – Mark Sesnan, formerly Managing Director GLL

Mark is the former Managing Director of GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited), the pioneering staff owned and led charitable Social Enterprise that took over the operation of Greenwich Council’s leisure centres in 1993 as an innovative ‘spin out’. Mark stepped down as MD in December 2022 but still supports the group as strategic adviser. GLL had a turnover of £5m in 1993 with 150 employees operating 7 leisure centres for one London Borough. Today GLL manages over 300 public leisure centres and libraries across England and has an annual turnover in excess of £300million. GLL works with over 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations and employs a diverse workforce of over 13,000 people. GLL is a mutual society and workers cooperative and is owned by its members, all of whom are employees. Governance is via a Stakeholder Board. GLL played a key role in the 2012 London Olympic Games (before, during and after) and now operates many of the key Olympic legacy venues including The Copper Box Arena, the hugely successful London Aquatics Centre, the Velodrome and the White Water Park. GLL is the UK’s largest charitable social enterprise in its field, delivering leisure, health and community services and libraries. Our mission is to provide high quality, accessible and affordable public services that are well used and contribute to the health, activity, social cohesion and education agendas. Mark has worked for GLL since its formation in 1993 and was recognised as Ernst and Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and made a Fellow of Social Enterprise UK in 2017.

Joint Vice Chair – Iain Varah, Chief Executive, Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure

Iain started his Leisure and Culture career in the early 80s at Blyth Leisure centre now an Active Northumberland facility, moving quickly on to the Michael Sobell in Islington followed by two years in the middle east. Eldon Leisure,Newcastle and Carlisle city were the next stop before a number of years as the DSO Manager in Wrekin. Iain secured a Chief Officer role in his mid 30s in the City of Newport managing the Leisure and Culture portfolio for 10 years , he is proud of his role in bringing the Ryder cup to Newport, securing city status and developing a number of facilities now being operated by Newport Live. In 2004 Iain moved to the London Borough of Redbridge where he set up Vision from a client perspective in 2007 and in 2011 TUPE transferred along with 400 staff from his role of Operational Director to the Chief Executive of Vision. Vision although only working in partnership with Redbridge run some of the most diverse services of any CLUK member. This includes Theatre, Drama ,Arts and Culture, Music service ,Events, Community and commercial venues, Food and Beverage, Parks, Allotments ,Grounds Maintenance, Libraries ,health and wellbeing ,Country Parks and leisure facilities. Vision now has a turnover of 23 million and 700 staff. Iain is an ex-chair and honorary member of CLOA and still sits on the Executive, a previous member of the Libraries network which means he still has close ties to the DCMS Libraries and Arts team. Away from his passion for the Leisure and Cultural industry in his spare time he follows Newcastle Falcons and spends as much time as possible on the beaches of north Northumberland.

Joint Vice Chair & Treasurer – Dawn Heaton, Finance Director, Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles

Dawn is the Finance Director and Company Secretary for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles and has strategic responsibility for the organisation’s financial management and organisational development. She has been a member of the Senior Leadership Team for more than 10 years as Finance Director and Head of Finance & Resources. Her roles have included responsibility for a range of strategic projects supporting business expansion, service development and performance improvement. Educated to degree level Business and Finance, Dawn is also a member of ACCA CAT. In addition to leading the financial management of IHL – across multiple client contracts – she has also provided strategic financial support to a range of partners including Proco North-West, GM Active and Bolton Middlebrook Leisure Trust. When she’s not got her head in the accounting book you will probably find her out walking with her dogs or catching up with friends.

Directors;

Heather Stuart, Chief Executive, Fife Cultural Trust (Culture Rep)

Heather Stuart is Chief Executive of Fife Cultural Trust, delivering high quality libraries, museums, arts, archives, and theatre services across 40 venues. Heather has worked in central and local government and in the private sector. Her working experience includes roles in community development and regeneration, European and external affairs, culture, and leisure. Her career has included roles as Director of Regeneration at Communities Scotland, Head of Cultural and Community Services at Perth and Kinross Council, and supporting Ministers in Scottish Government on issues including local government, public service reform, regeneration, social inclusion, and cultural policy. All of Heather’s work experience has focused on leading change and working in, with, and for communities, and she has worked in arts and culture for over 15 years. Heather is a Member of the Institute of Directors, a Board member of Love Oor Lang Toun and Fife Chamber of Commerce, and is Vice Chair of Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Warren Smyth, Chief Executive, Abbeycroft Leisure (Central Region)

Warren is the CEO of Abbeycroft Leisure, which is a Not for Profit Company and Registered Charity focused on creating healthier active communities. He has over 25 years’ experience of working in the sport and physical activity sector. Warren oversees the management of a diverse portfolio of facilities and services including traditional leisure centres, community use facilities, a health and wellbeing facility alongside an extensive Active Communities team and an outdoor pursuits service. Abbeycroft manages 19 facilities in 13 different communities and delivers a wide range of programmes and initiatives, generating in excess of £6 million of social value to the community.

Chris Porter, Facility Manager, Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust (North East & Yorkshire Region )

Chris is the Facility Manager of Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust, where he has been employed for the past 20 years, starting out as an apprentice. His role as manager includes the Strategic, Financial, and Operational management of the facility, as well as responsibility for over 25 salaried employees and 100 Volunteers. Chris is also responsible for organising key events within the local area to help raise the profile of the Trust. He is passionate about developing activities, opportunities and services to enhance the physical and mental well-being of the community, as well the volunteer workforce. Outside of work Chris enjoys spending time with family and friends. He is also a volunteer coach for the Tadcaster Junior Football Club U7s team.

Andy Brooks, Facility Manager, BeActive Urmston, (North West Region)

Andy is the Facility Manager at BeActive Urmston, opening the former George H Carnall Centre following a community asset transfer in April 2021.  The centre now delivers a diverse range of community leisure and health activity programmes to the local community.  Andy is responsible for management and day to day operations and ultimately establishing the centre as a sustainable enterprise.  Andy has a passion for leisure and working with other like-minded organisations to realise a thriving local third sector.  He has worked in leisure and across several trusts for over 25 years.

Kay Morrison, Chief Executive, South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (Scotland Rep)

Kay is the Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (SLLC), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation delivering a large portfolio of Leisure and Cultural services across South Lanarkshire. She is also the former Vice – Chair of the Sportscotland Trust Board, having completed two 4 year terms as a Board member.

Kay has worked in the Leisure and Culture sector across Scotland for 19 years in both a Local Authority and Charity context. Her working experience includes roles in Sport & physical activity, Community Recreation, Strategy, Business development and Governance.

Mike Lyons, Chief Executive, Horizon Leisure (South West Region)

Mike is Chief Executive at Horizon Leisure Trust and has over 30 years experience in the sport, leisure and culture sector.

Mike was previously Director of Sport and Leisure at BH Live based in Bournemouth and prior to that Head of Sport and Leisure at Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles in Wigan.

Mike has also gained experience in the retirement and adult social care sector holding the position of Managing Director for Affordable Housing and Healthcare Group, heading up residential care, retirement and community partnerships.

Steve Ward, Chief Executive, Newport Live (Wales Region)

Steve is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the leisure, sport, arts and cultural industries. Skilled in Innovation, Inclusion and Equality, Coaching, Strategic Planning, Partnership working, Business Growth and Development, Organizational Development, and Event Management. Strong business development professional with a Sport & Human Movement Studies – management focused degree from the University of Wales, Cardiff.

Martin Guyton, Chief Executive, tmactive (South East Region)