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Serco Leisure

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Aqua Aerobics at Ladywood Leisure Centre
Personal Trainer at Erdington Leisure Centre
The gym at Stoke Mandeville Stadium
Aqua Aerobics at Ladywood Leisure Centre
Personal Trainer at Erdington Leisure Centre
The gym at Stoke Mandeville Stadium
What we can do for you
Founded in 1988, Serco Leisure Operating Limited is one of the UK’s leading national operators of leisure centres, destination venues and elite sporting facilities.

In 2021, we were named ukactive’s Outstanding Organisation of the Year.

Working collaboratively with independent charitable trusts, including our national partner More Leisure Community Trust, we operate over 40 facilities on behalf of Local Authority clients and Sport England.

Serco Leisure is part of Serco’s UK Citizen Services business, which generates revenues in excess of £350m pa and employs more than 6,000 staff.

Key products and services
We manage Local Authority gyms and pools on behalf of councils in England, Northern Ireland and on the Channel Island of Jersey, but our breadth of experience covers many other areas, including the operation of prestige National Sports Centres such as Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall, venues where elite and community sport come together.

Since 2018, in partnership with the More Leisure Community Trust and on behalf of the national charity for wheelchair sport WheelPower, we have been the proud operator of Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

Our national centres are not just sporting venues. At Lilleshall, we offer a boutique hotel experience in our Main House, and fine dining in Chapters Restaurant, while the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham offers an award-winning campsite and range of all-family activity options including paddleboarding, kayaking, Archery Combat and the Lagoon Wipeout inflatable.

These centres are also home to various major sporting NGBs, including British Gymnastics and England Hockey.

We’re the company responsible for the original design and build for Transport for London’s successful cycle hire scheme and have provided, maintained and distributed the bikes, since the scheme’s launch. In 2022, we added e-bikes to this popular scheme.

In 2021 we launched a cycle hire scheme in the West Midlands, which has 1,500 bikes, comprising 1,350 pedal and 150 e-bikes, available for hire across the region. So far, the scheme has recorded half a million journeys with riders travelling over 1.2 million km collectively.
case study: Making an impact – Ladywood Leisure Centre
“Ladywood Leisure Centre is a fantastic resource for local residents. In the period it’s been open I have noticed a change in the local area whether that’s a reduction in anti-social behaviour or a general change in attitude to lifestyle and fitness. The community has benefitted massively since the centre has opened.”

Daniel Meese, Police Community Support Officer, Ladywood

Ladywood in Birmingham is one of the most deprived regions in the UK, with low employment and high rates of childhood poverty. Opening a brand-new leisure facility in this area would bring fresh challenges, but by focusing on the needs of the local community, offering sessions that they could afford at times they could attend, we have managed to create a genuine grassroots success story, utilising an inclusive approach, while never forgetting that this is a commercial venture that needs to pay its way.

Before the centre even opened, our on-site team were working with employment agencies to set up a recruitment Open Day, only available to Ladywood residents. Hundreds attended the event, many of whom were long-term unemployed, but when Ladywood opened its doors, it could boast that over 50% of its staff were people from the local area, which has helped greatly in getting ‘buy in’ from the people in this region.

Offering a suite of free and subsidised sessions means this centre is able to offer the residents of Ladywood the opportunity to stay active in a state-of-the-art facility, which may have seemed out of their budget range when they first saw the impressive building go up.

At Ladywood, we have achieved the golden combination: a centre used by local people of all demographics offering subsidised access to a high-quality facility, while managing to keep revenue lines growing all the time. Pre-COVID swimming lesson numbers have recently been smashed, casual swimming is up on pre-2020, the list goes on.

One final element we’re very proud of at Ladywood is how we’ve opened up and promoted the free use of our Community Room, where we house all manner of different sessions, from dance classes to a base for the local chess club. Many leisure centres claim they’re a community hub, but at Ladywood Leisure Centre that claim is a reality.
Dawn Page and the Ladywood Leisure Centre Team / Birmingham Live
case study: Aquatics – record breaking growth and there’s more to come
Aquatics is something Serco Leisure is known for, something we do well. We were UK Pool & Spa’s Leisure Operator of the Year for 2018 and 2019 – the only two years we entered. Our centre in Bangor, Northern Ireland, The Aurora won the 2018 World Cup of Pools competition. Pre-COVID, we ran an industry-leading annual competition for lifeguards, which received huge praise from the RLSS. (We’re planning to reintroduce the competition in 2022.) We take swimming seriously, but our growth in 2021 has taken even us a little by surprise.

But we shouldn’t have been surprised really. We hired right and it’s paid off. Our National Aquatics Team, all new for 2021, are headed up by the indomitable Helen Bull, a former runner and champion swimmer, who due to cancer now uses a wheelchair, but hasn’t let that get in the way of her living and achieving. Helen is the only wheelchair user in the UK who’s also a fully qualified swim and lifeguard teacher. Her passion for all things aquatics means there’s a new energy around Serco Leisure’s swimming pools.

As of October 2021, just 6 months after April’s partial reopening, and across the board, our swimming lesson numbers have exceeded our benchmark figures from February 2020. Swimming memberships, often a tough sell, are on track to leapfrog pre-COVID’s numbers by the end of November 2021, while casual swimming is proving more popular than expected as families return to an activity much-missed for most of 2020 and the first part of 2021.

These successes come off the back of a huge amount of hard work by the new National Aquatics Team. Joining Helen, we have Lynn Goring-Crook, National Aquatics Training Lead. Lynn’s appointment is testament to our drive to have the best trained aquatics workforce in the business.

Lynn’s a Swimming Teachers Association (STA) Aquatic Tutor with 'Train the Tutor’ status who’s experienced at developing talent with small and large teams including managing inspiring swim programmes, staff training and career pathways.

Then there’s Jenni May, Commercial Aquatics Development Manager. Jenni has 25 years of leisure experience and is working alongside site leads to look at opportunities to enhance and grow their lesson programmes and maximise pool space. She’s also a Swim England and STA Tutor, passionate about getting as many people as possible utilising our pools for aquatics activities.

We’ve also added experts like Cheryl Hoey, who’s currently heading up our aquatics contracts in Maidstone and Swale. And we’re recruiting in other areas. Serco Leisure will soon have more people working in this area of the business than ever before, signaling our intent to grow and develop aquatics to previously unheard of levels of popularity.
Bangor Aurora competition pool / Serco Leisure
case study: Staying in the top 1% of best managed facilities in the UK
Stretch Outstanding is the highest ranking a site can achieve via NBS Quest, the leisure industry's leading benchmarking service. It is only awarded to those facilities consistently demonstrating the highest standards of operational excellence.

99% of facilities in the UK, which go through Quest, do not match up to this most stringent of assessments. Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall National Sports Centres, which Serco Leisure operate on behalf of Sport England, have achieved Quest – Stretch Outstanding for an incredible three consecutive cycles.

Quest does not check a site on a single day or a single week. it is a continual process to ensure the high standard of service delivered by one group of staff will be replicated across the facility, whichever team is on duty. This is why Bisham and Lilleshall’s achievement is so noteworthy. It demonstrates an embedded culture of excellence at every level. From cleaning staff to catering, front of house to fitness, the teams at these iconic national centres work year-round to stay at the top.

Recent finalist in the ukactive Outstanding Leadership category, Operations Director, Steve Nelson oversees the centres for Serco Leisure.

“Achieving the first ever Quest Stretch Outstanding back in 2014 set the bar high for teams at both facilities, but they’ve risen to the challenge for each assessment cycle. What’s been so pleasing to me is that underpinning so much of our success has been the four core Serco values of Pride, Innovation, Trust and Care. Teams genuinely believe in those values and it shows in the quality of service they deliver day in and day out.”

Quest’s Operations Director, Caroline Constantine, said:

“Lilleshall and Bisham have once again demonstrated that there is a quality of culture throughout the venues on any day of the year, as this is the third time they have achieved Stretch. Well done to all the teams there, a fantastic accolade.”

Charles Johnston, Director of Property at Sport England added:

"It’s great to see the work the centres do being recognised like this, from the relationships they’ve formed and nurtured with key NGBs to the work they do with the community to encourage people of all ages and abilities to get active, using the high quality sporting facilities they have on their doorsteps.”
Bisham Abbey / Serco Leisure
Serco Leisure video gallery:
Plans for the next 12 months
2022 was a record-breaking 12 months for Serco Leisure, as we celebrated a set of sales figures at year-end that even our most optimistic forecasts hadn’t predicted.

2023 will see us consolidating those gains, while looking to improve our overall customer offering via the introduction of a new Single-Customer-View CRM system. When this launches later in the year, it will allow us to provide customers with a journey that goes far beyond their leisure centre visit and will instead marry up their in-centre experience with engaging digital touch-points and supportive human interventions.
Key personnel
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Steve Nelson, Operations Director
Sally Kurton, Commercial Director
Steve Lawrence, Operations Director
Leigh Brooks, Marketing Director
Warren Higgins, Business Development Director
Key customers
Sport England
Local authorities
"We have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with Serco Leisure since the contract was awarded in 2015. They manage nine facilities on our behalf and together we have opened four new facilities: Stechford, Northfield, Erdington and Ladywood, two of which won prestigious ukactive awards, highlighting the quality of these new builds.

"The knowledge, expertise and experience Serco bring is first class. In the post-COVID era, we’re confident they are the operator who will provide the level of service, variety of activity and the inclusive welcome the people of Birmingham deserve."
– Dave Wagg, Head of Sport & Development, Birmingham City Council
updates & press releases
23 Nov 2023
Three Serco Leisure-managed facilities earn Elite Training Centre status from UK Sport
Three national sports centres operated by Serco Leisure have earned Elite Training Centre (ETC) accreditation from UK Sport, the organisation responsible for the strategic investment of Government and National Lottery funding into Olympic and Paralympic sport and major events.

To earn this status, Bisham Abbey, Lilleshall and Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre have demonstrated that they are providing elite facilities and equipment, staff, and overall organisational culture – with a clear commitment to continuous improvement.

The three Serco Leisure-operated centres are part of a group of eight initial locations to be granted ETC status, each of which has been assessed against an excellence framework built around eight guiding principles:

• Sustainability and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
• Partnerships
• Facilities and equipment
• Access
• People development
• Performance lifestyle
• Science and Medicine
• Quality

Steve Nelson, Serco Leisure’s Operations Director for national sports centres said: “Elite athletes expect an elite level of support from the behind-the-scenes teams who operate their training venues, and I am proud to say that is exactly what our people at each of these prestigious centres deliver.”

“We’re delighted that Serco Leisure’s ongoing support for Olympic and Paralympic sportsmen and women has been recognised with this prestigious accreditation.”

Dr Kate Baker, Director of Performance at UK Sport, said: “Our ETC hosts provide the essential daily training environments for our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The ETC accreditation framework reflects the excellence of their support and our confidence that they will continue to empower athletes’ sustainable high performance.”

The other five organisations selected by UK Sport to become ETCs are:

• Loughborough University
• Manchester City Council
• Milton Keynes National Badminton Centre
• Sheffield City Council
• University of Bath
Steve Nelson (Serco Leisure) Kevin Burton Head of National Centres (Sport England), James Ewart,(Serco Leisure), Steve Welsh, Strategic Lead, Place Development (Sport England) Credit: Serco Leisure
30 Oct 2023
Serco Leisure wins twice at ukactive awards
Serco Leisure is celebrating a successful ukactive awards 2023, having picked up two prizes, plus a runners-up spot in the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion category for Birmingham’s Ladywood Leisure Centre.

Serco Leisure had six centres/individuals shortlisted this year, with representatives in the Club/Centre of the Year, Physical Activity Hero of the Year, Outstanding Leadership for Managing Director, Simon Lane, plus the aforementioned Equality, Diversity & Inclusion category.

Simon Lane, Serco’s Managing Director for Leisure & Micromobility said: “For Serco Leisure to win two awards and come so close in a third category from just six finalists is a tremendous achievement for the business at what is the sector’s premier awards event.

“Congratulations to the Facility Manager, Gavin Short and the Rebecca Adlington Leisure Centre in Mansfield on their win - Club/Centre of the Year (Midlands), and a huge well done to Bangor Aurora’s Elaine Hutton, who won in the hottest contested category of the night - Physical Activity Hero of the Year.

“Ladywood Leisure Centre won the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in 2022, but were pipped at the post this year, coming away with Highly Commended from the judges. Well done to Dawn Page and her team on a second finals night appearance in succession.

“I would also like to congratulate our other finalists – Birmingham’s Northfield Leisure Centre and Oak Tree Leisure Centre in Mansfield. Oak Tree’s shortlisting in 2023 marks an incredible run for the facility, as they have now made the final at the last five ukactive awards events.”

The ukactive awards recognise excellence in the physical activity sector. This year they were staged at the Royal Armouries conference venue in Leeds.
Bangor Aurora’s Elaine Hutton and Gavin Short from the Rebecca Adlington Leisure Centre Credit: Serco
02 Mar 2023
Serco awarded five-year leisure contract extension in Northern Ireland
Serco’s leisure business has been awarded a five-year extension on its contract to operate three facilities in the Ards and North Down area of Northern Ireland.

Serco and its operating partner in the region, Northern Community Leisure Trust (NCLT) have managed Bangor Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex, Bangor Sportsplex and Queen’s Leisure Complex in Holywood since April 2013, when they were awarded a 10-year contract by Ards and North Down Council.

In July 2021 the Council made the decision this contract would not continue beyond its original 10-year period, with leisure services planned to be directly managed by the Council from April this year.

However, in September of 2022, the Council decided to re-engage with Serco and NCLT to explore options, which could result in their continuing management of the three centres. In December of 2022, following a meeting of council Members, Serco and NCLT were awarded a contract extension which would take them up to April 2028.

Simon Lane, Serco’s Managing Director for Leisure & Micromobility said: “We are delighted the local council are continuing to place their faith in us to provide quality leisure services for the people of Bangor, Holywood and surrounding areas.

“Once centres reopened following the various lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, our on-site teams have worked extremely hard to attract and retain customers, which has helped us recover at a faster rate than expected - allowing us to present a more cost-effective proposal to the council when negotiations resumed in September 2022.

“Over the past decade, we have built an excellent relationship with Ards and North Down Council, and we look forward to supporting them and the people of the region during this challenging economic period.”

Stephen Reid, Chief Executive for Ards and North Down Council added: “In September 2022, Council took the decision to re-engage with NCLT to explore options/costs for it to continue running our leisure facilities in Bangor and Holywood post April 2023. The subsequent bid prepared by Serco (on behalf of NCLT) offered significant savings and given the challenging economic climate, the Council chose to capitalise on this and offered Serco a five-year contract extension.

“The Council has enjoyed a very successful and productive relationship with Serco and NCLT for almost 10 years and looks forward to this continuing.”

Since 2013, Bangor Aurora has twice been named Club/Centre of the Year for the region at the prestigious ukactive awards. It is also the reigning World Cup of Pools champion.
Bangor Aurora Aquatic & Leisure Complex Credit: Serco
07 Nov 2022
Serco sites retain highest industry accreditation
Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall, the national sports centres operated by Serco Leisure on behalf of Sport England have retained leisure industry benchmarking scheme Quest’s highest accreditation, Stretch – Outstanding, making it four assessment cycles in succession that both facilities have achieved this ranking.

Quest is the leading Continuous Improvement Tool for the leisure industry. To receive an Outstanding rating, first a facility needs to have been judged ‘Excellent’. Once that rating has been achieved, centres can apply for the Quest - Stretch Assessment, which would enable them to aim for Outstanding.

Around 1% of all leisure facilities in the UK achieve Stretch - Outstanding, but even fewer have managed to achieve this most stringent accreditation for four cycles in succession.
Steve Nelson, Serco Leisure’s Operations Director for national centres and offshore business said: “I’m extremely proud of the teams at Bisham and Lilleshall. Being awarded Quest - Stretch - Outstanding yet again is a remarkable achievement, when you consider just how tough an assessment this is. Very few operators even attempt the Stretch element, as it’s notoriously difficult. But at Bisham and Lilleshall, we’ve never shied away from this challenge, confident in our ability to face the Quest test each assessment cycle.

“I am particularly proud of the comments and ranking we achieved around the partnership working element of the process. An organisation like Serco Leisure prides itself on its ability to work with and support clients towards their strategic, performance and financial goals. At these centres, we’ve truly demonstrated just how effective we are as an operating partner.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Executive Director of Place for Sport England, said: “I’m delighted that Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall have once again achieved a Quest Stretch – Outstanding accreditation.

“The award is testament to the hard work of Serco at the National Sport Centres and the support they offer the wide range of people utilising our National Centres - be it elite athletes preparing for an Olympic Games, to members from the local community playing Walking Football or simply being active.”

“Our strategy, Uniting the Movement looks to get all people involved in sport and physical activity, and centres like these are integral in giving people the opportunities to get active.”

Serco Leisure was awarded the 15-year management contract to run Bisham and Lilleshall in 2011 and is responsible for providing a range of support services, including catering, hospitality and events, landscaping, reception and security services, marketing and communications. 
Bisham Abbey (pictured) and Lilleshall national sports centres have retained Quest's most stringent accreditation for four cycles in succession Credit: Serco Leisure
25 Aug 2022
Five-year contract extension for Serco Leisure in Shropshire
Serco Leisure and its operating partner in the region, Shropshire Community Leisure Trust have been awarded a five-year contract extension by Shropshire Council to continue operating Market Drayton Swimming Pool, Oswestry Leisure Centre, Shrewsbury Sports Village and The Quarry Swimming & Fitness Centre.

The extension includes investment from the council to upgrade equipment across each of the centres. The Council will be working closely with the Trust to identify innovative equipment that will appeal to a wider customer base.

Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, said:
“Serco and Shropshire Community Leisure Trust have been bringing their expertise to managing our leisure centres successfully for the last decade.

“We have confidence in the agreement and look forward to our continued partnership for the term of the extended contract.

“Shropshire Council is committed to people’s health and wellbeing and there are some interesting projects in our hands. We are currently reviewing the results of the public consultation on developing a new £12.1m swimming and fitness centre in Whitchurch and swimming in Shrewsbury is also at the forefront of our attention.

“Shropshire Council knows how important to people swimming facilities in Shrewsbury are and remains committed to working with partners on the project and the site will be maintained in the meantime.”

Welcoming the contract extension, Simon Lane, managing director for Serco Leisure said:

“This contract extension marks the 10-year anniversary of Serco Leisure and Shropshire Community Leisure Trust assuming operation of centres across the county. We’re proud of our record over the past decade and look forward to the next five years, as we continue to provide high quality, accessible leisure activities at these great centres.”

Ian Phelps, chair of Shropshire Community Leisure Trust added: “I would like to thank the teams at each of our centres for their commitment to high standards of customer service, the foundation upon which this contract extension was built.

“I look forward to the next five years of partnership working with Serco Leisure and Shropshire Council as we look to support this community towards healthier, more active lifestyles.”
26 May 2022
Serco Leisure’s Helen Bull achieves first for wheelchair users
Serco Leisure’s National Commercial Aquatics Manager, Helen Bull, has created a bit of history, becoming the first wheelchair user to gain RLSS UK’s Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) qualification.

Helen achieved the qualification at a training and assessment day at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, a site Serco Leisure manages on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council.

This achievement followed Helen’s success in 2019 when she became the first wheelchair user to achieve the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification.

Helen requires a wheelchair on land, but it's a different matter in the water. She’s a keen swimmer - in all weathers – and, as well as being a NPLQ lifeguard she’s also a fully trained Swimming Teacher and Tutor. But she was aware that no wheelchair user had qualified in the open water element of lifeguarding, and Helen loves a challenge.

For the qualification, Helen needed a volunteer in the lake that she could rescue - step forward her aquatics colleague and industry training expert, Lynn Goring-Crook, Serco Leisure’s Aquatics Training Lead.

Lynn said: “Helen is an inspiration, so even though getting in a cold lake isn’t my idea of fun, to help her achieve this first, I couldn’t say no, and because Helen is Helen, she passed!”

Jo Talbot, Commercial Director at RLSS UK added: “Helen’s achievement in gaining the RLSS UK Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) qualification reflects her passion for the industry and water safety, not to mention her determination - she is truly an inspiration for others.

"RLSS UK is committed to ensuring our qualifications are accessible. As part of her role as RLSS UK Trustee, Helen is helping us to ensure our qualifications and awards are as accessible as possible within the parameters of the rigour and robustness prerequisite, and standards required to pass the assessments.

“We want to congratulate Helen on her achieving the qualification and wish her continued success with her role at Serco Leisure."

With this challenge now complete, Helen turns her sights to something new and the possibility of achieving her RLSS UK Beach Lifeguard Qualification.
Helen Bull has become the first wheelchair user to gain RLSS UK’s Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) qualification Credit: Serco Leisure
Serco Leisure: news from and
UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) is backing research to investigate the lack of older adults accessing facilities for exercise and the barriers they face.
Following a competitive tendering process, Serco Leisure and its partner More Leisure Community Trust Limited (MLCT) have been awarded a 10-year contract by Mansfield District Council to operate three centres in the town, starting 1 May 2022.
OnePT Rochdale has been named as club of the year at this year's ukactive Awards, the second year the operator has claimed victory
Serco Leisure
Tel: +44 0116 240 7500
Address: Lancer House, 38 Scudamore Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE3 1UB, United Kingdom
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Serco Leisure video gallery:
Key personnel
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Steve Nelson, Operations Director
Sally Kurton, Commercial Director
Steve Lawrence, Operations Director
Leigh Brooks, Marketing Director
Warren Higgins, Business Development Director
Key customers
Sport England
Local authorities