Places for People Leisure Win Three Awards at the Places for People Annual Star Awards

Places for People’s annual Star Awards were held this week in Leeds, and 3 out of 10 awards were won by Places for People Leisure, plus a runner up award!


The Star Awards is a Places for People Group employee reward scheme which recognises the outstanding achievements of colleagues across the 21 companies that make up the group. Over 200 individuals attended the event from the 11,600 employed across the Group. It is an opportunity to give those who go ‘that extra mile’ and deliver exceptional service, the credit they deserve and recognise them as ambassadors of the organisation. Without their dedication, commitment, hard work and determination, Places for People Leisure would not be a forward facing, ever evolving organisation.


This year Places for People Leisure colleagues won the ‘Team of the Year’, ‘Employee of the Year’ and ‘Leading Change’ awards, and won the runners up award in the ‘Going the Extra Mile category. In total 103 Places for People Leisure colleagues were nominated this year for the ten categories, showcasing how many inspiring individuals work within the company.


Rachel Pickering, Head of HR at Places for People Leisure comments, “We are extremely proud for our colleagues to have achieved this recognition. They are great ambassadors of the Places for People Leisure ethos and make such a positive difference to the local communities that surround them. These awards are an opportunity for the fantastic work that our people are doing to be formally recognised. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who was nominated for their outstanding work.”

The Team of the Year Award


The ‘Team of the Year’ award went to the leisure safety team who were responsible for saving lives at Wycombe Leisure Centre and Places Gym in Sheffield. In April 2016 at Wycombe Leisure Centre, Leanne Maher from Places for People Leisure, was delivering a training course when a gentleman collapsed within the fitness suite. The team of trainee Royal Life Saving Society Trainer Assessors led by Leanne successfully performed CPR and administered an AED before the paramedics arrived on scene.


The paramedics commented, “It’s amazing to come to a site where staff have saved someone’s life like this.”


Anne Gardner-Aston, Places for People Group Health and Safety Director, commented “The number of recent successful deployments of defibrillators at Places for People Leisure facilities has more than justified the investment in the equipment and staff training. This month alone there are 3 families that still have their loved ones with them thanks to the quick, professional response of our staff. That is priceless for those customers and their families and I personally am very proud to work in the same organisation as staff who put such a high value on customer health and wellbeing.”

Employee of the Year


The ‘Employee of the Year’ award went to Sophie Talbot who is a swim instructor at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre, managed by Places for People Leisure on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council. Sophie has been a swim instructor since August 2013, supporting hard to reach groups and individuals to reach their swimming goals. She has been instrumental in improving our offering and accessibility for deaf children in particular learning to swim. Sophie became interested in British Sign Language (BSL) at High School and attended a BSL after school club prior to commencing her employment with Places for People Leisure. She went on to complete her introductory BSL course and has recently enrolled on a level 1 BSL course with the intention to reach level 6. Furthermore, in September 2015 Sophie supported an adult customer that could not could not swim, feared water and wished to complete 34 lengths in order to raise awareness of CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) in memory of her son.


Sophie’s Manager, Jason Pitman commented, “Sophie can now interact and communicate with deaf children and tailor her lessons to be fully inclusive and fun for all. We are proud to say that we are growing our deaf children junior lesson programme, because of Sophie and her dedication”.

Leading Change Award


The ‘Leading Change’ award was presented to Richard Cowley, Area Manager at Places for People Leisure. In 2011 following his role as Head of Health and Wellbeing for the leisure Group, Richard Cowley became Contract Manager within the Rotherham leisure contract. Places for People Leisure has managed four leisure centres within this contract on behalf of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council since 2007 as part of a PFI contract. During his time within the contract customer satisfaction scores (measured through Net Promoter Score) have increased 3-fold which has led to Maltby Leisure Centre achieving a Flame Award in 2015 and Quest Excellent scores across all four Rotherham sites.


In addition, Richard has secured significant NHS funding to deliver weight management and programmes across the borough. Alongside this in his leadership Richard has secured further funding to deliver Sport Development programmes across Rotherham. This funding has come through Sport England and National Governing Bodies.


Richard is not just passionate about building the business through increased customer satisfaction and community use; he is also passionate about the team he manages. Within his relatively short period as head of the leadership team, his team members have achieved promotions within the company including two General Managers promoted to Contract Manager roles.


Richard more recently was a huge part of the companies tendering process, assisting in the Contract win in Sheffield which included the management of three new sites on behalf of Sheffield City Council.


Richard has also developed the brand ‘Places Gym’ within his time and now in his role as Area Manager leads the three sites across the UK. Richard has been a big part of shaping the Places Gym brand to suit the local area and to drive performance.


Richard is described as “A true gentleman of the company, who has time for everyone, even when under high pressure to perform and deliver. He always has a smile and a very positive outlook on work. Richard hasn’t just made a difference in Rotherham, Sheffield or Places Gym – he has changed the landscape for the Company’s future developments of driving participation levels within community gyms and leisure centres across the UK.”

Going the Extra Mile


The runner up of the ‘Going the Extra Mile’ award went to Luke Caley, Cleaner and Lifeguard at Aston-Cum-Aughton Leisure Centre, managed by Places for People Leisure on behalf of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.


Luke is an integral part of the team at Aston-Cum-Aughton Leisure Centre as Luke’s Manager Paul Harpham explains; “Engage, Enhance, Exceed is something we speak about all the time. Luke ticks all three of these without realising. He engages with everyone in a polite, encouraging and enthusiastic manner. He enhances the customer experience, through sitting down with customers for a chat, learning their names, and finding out their interests.


Luke exceeds everybody’s expectations every day. In my 5+ years working for the company, I've never met anybody that works harder and with more passion than Luke. Not only does Luke give 110% to his job every single day, he inspires many of us to better ourselves, including me. His positive outlook on life helps inspire, enthuse and drive staff, customers and the centre towards their respective goals. Luke is one of the reasons why I am proud to say that I work for Team Aston.”

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