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Tanni Grey-Thompson named new chair of ukactive

By Jak Phillips    28 Apr 2015
Grey-Thompson has set out clear objectives to ensure ukactive’s campaign to get Britain more active is at the heart of future government policy / NCVO London

Athletics legend and respected crossbench peer Tanni Grey-Thompson has today (28 April) been named chair of ukactive, tasked with ensuring the next government turns rhetoric into action in tackling Britain’s physical inactivity crisis.

Grey-Thompson is one of the most successful British athletes ever – having won a total of 16 Paralympic medals – and in 2010 was made a crossbench member of the House of Lords. The peer replaces outgoing ukactive chair Fred Turok, who, together with CEO David Stalker, will launch new trampolining concept Altitude.

“For too long, physical activity has been – in the government’s eyes – the poor cousin of sport and overshadowed by obesity,” said Grey-Thompson, who graces the cover of the forthcoming May edition of Health Club Management.

“The work of ukactive up until this point has shown that inactivity is a killer, and inaction on this issue is no longer an option.

“I look forward to working with 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.”

Firing the starter pistol on her tenure, Grey-Thompson has set out clear objectives to ensure ukactive’s campaign to get Britain more active is at the heart of future government policy.

These are:

• For the government to have created a long-term, cross-departmental strategy for the promotion of physical activity best practice, supported by all public bodies across all forms of physical activity

• For physical activity to be a top-tier priority for Public Health England, and for preventative health to be a key priority for the Department of Health, and to see this reflected across the UK

• For the prioritisation of education, training and skills of a ‘wellbeing workforce’ to be recognised and actioned by the relevant government departments

• 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

• For the physical activity sector – and members of ukactive - to be recognised by government as a key driver of the health and wellbeing for the nation and enlisted as part of the delivery team, irrespective of whether they are from the public, private or third sector

Grey-Thompson added: “What we have set out today will provide the base for the next five years of campaigning, lobbying and cajoling 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.”

Meanwhile, the announcement comes on the same day that long-serving ukactive team member Steven Ward has been promoted to the newly-created post of executive director.

The appointment of Ward is designed to foster continuity at ukactive, with outgoing CEO David Stalker to take on a new part time executive role from April 2015 and some time being foreseen before the organisation replaces him.

Ward will take on the leadership of the ukactive executive team with immediate effect and will be supported by the existing executive team including operations director Geraldine Tuck. The team is completed by ex-LOCOG programme management specialist and Deloitte Management Consultant Will Smithard, sports and exercise scientist Dr Steven Mann as research director and former Cannon's finance director Stephen Williams.

Commenting on the announcement of Ward’s new role, outgoing ukactive CEO David Stalker said: “Anyone who has worked with me and ukactive over the years will know that wherever I stepped, Steve Ward was always one step ahead, plotting my path.

"He has long been writing my sheet music and the sheet music for ukactive more widely; it’s his time to be the conductor. He’s ready for this and will bring the young, dynamic leadership that this organisation needs to ensure that ukactive continues to go from strength to strength.”

The appointment of a new chair and executive director follows the announcement that David Stalker will be continuing to support the team through a new non-executive director role on the ukactive Board and as the chair of the new entirely-elected Membership Council.

Follow the author on Twitter: @JakPhillips

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