Scottish community leisure schemes shine at UK awards

Published on: June 4th 2019

Last month was the Community Leisure UK 2019 Awards ceremony, which championed and showcased some of the outstanding achievements of member trusts across the UK. The event, buzzing with excitement and celebration, was held at the iconic Lowry Theatre in Manchester on 22 May, and was hosted by Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen.

This year’s ceremony highlighted the unique and distinctive nature of leisure and culture trusts, and the broad capabilities of the trust model – reinvesting every penny of profit into delivering quality public services for their local communities. Although the landscape is particularly challenging, the awards night focused on celebration and shining a spotlight on the community leisure trust collective. There was a fantastic response from members in Scotland with entries from numerous trusts.

The independent judging panel was tasked with shortlisting just four finalists per category. Independent judge Robert Nesbitt, head of physical activity and sport at Scottish Association for Mental Health said:

“As a judge in this year’s awards, I was excited and inspired by the diverse range of activities, particularly those promoting health and well-being, delivered by leisure trusts. However, the incredibly high standard of applications certainly made the judging very difficult.”

In total, six Scottish trust entries were shortlisted as finalists, with Sport Aberdeen finalists in
three awards.

Finalist in the award category of Community Impact through Physical Activity, Edinburgh
Leisure’s Healthy Active Minds project uses physical activity to improve the mental health of
people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety or stress in the city. Delivered by the Active Communities Team, they specialise in designing physical activity sessions for people who face the greatest barriers to being active. In the same award category was Sport Aberdeen’s innovative, dynamic and successful Aquatics Workforce Development Pathway, which has developed into a training academy enabling the development and sustainability of aquatics in the city. It provides the opportunity for volunteers to enter the academy at 14 and follow a progressive and systematic pathway that enables a teaching or coaching career.

In the Capital Investment Award category, Live Border’s redevelopment of Teviotdale Leisure
Centre, involved a radical rethink of services. The redevelopment was community-led and
owned, financed and driven by Live Borders. Teviotdale was transformed throughout the space with equipment changes and a family area and café, ensuring increased accessible services and inclusive opportunities for the whole community.

Winner of the Capital Investment Award, Sport Aberdeen’s Get active @Sheddocksley facility has been transformed from a failing and unused centre in one of the city’s most deprived areas, into a well-loved contemporary well-being and fitness facility. Fundamentally this has reduced the risk of closure and ensured its sustainability for the foreseeable future.

Active Stirling’s strategic partnership with ClubSport Stirling, the sports council of 40-plus
years, committed finance, governance support, sport development, coach development and
facility access to ensure Stirling’s sports clubs are strong and sustainable. Equally, the partnership ensures that Active Stirling’s facilities are full with local clubs, offering sport and physical activity for all in the community. (Award category: Strategic Partnership).

Among the winners, flying the flag for Scottish community leisure trusts, were High Life Highland’s Leadership Programme – in the Innovation Award category – which aims to be recognised as industry-leading in developing Highland’s young people to be the best they can be. It is open to all young people and adults (12 to 25 years) offering training opportunities and qualifications. Every person involved has a dedicated mentor to support their leadership journey within their community.

Outstanding Individual Volunteer was Aimee Work, who received a standing ovation for her
volunteering commitment to the Active Girls Committee in Aberdeen. Aimee uses her personal challenges and experience of an eating disorder as a catalyst and to be an inspirational role model.
Aimee is an advocate and ambassador, championing girls’ participation in physical activity to
help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Reflecting on this exciting night of celebration, Community Leisure UK chief executive Cate Atwater said:

“The incredible work with communities delivered by trusts often goes under the radar and, as the association that champions the trust model, we have a role to play in bringing them to the fore. It is a huge honour for us to organise such an awards evening to ensure that the trusts’ and individuals’ contributions are recognised, thanked, and celebrated as they rightly deserve”.