Local businesses and representatives from the voluntary sector attended the bestofhaverhill January event at Days Inn Haverhill recently. Warren Smyth, the Chief Executive of Abbeycroft Leisure was the guest speaker and gave an informative presentation on the scope of the activities that the organisation is involved with.
Warren explained that Abbeycroft Leisure, a Charitable Leisure Trust which was awarded the social enterprise mark in 2010, is responsible for the management of the Leisure Centres in Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds and a gym in Ipswich. As a leisure trust and social enterprise it ploughs all profits made into providing health and fitness. Abbeycroft has a turnover of £4million and welcomed close to 1 million visitors to its facilities including 6,000 gym members.
Abbeycroft employs over 200 people. Only half of the employees are full time, which results in a very diverse workforce who add real value to the organisation. This is evidenced by the numerous awards and accolades that Abbeycroft Leisure has won over the past few years.
Partnership working plays a key part in the way Abbeycroft operates. They work closely with St Edmundsbury Borough Council which has invested £12 million in Leisure Facilities in recent years.
Warren commented on how amazed he was at the community feel at Haverhill Leisure Centre. He felt this was unique to Haverhill and not something that he had experienced previously in a twenty year career in the leisure industry.
Abbeycroft Leisure is involved in many different projects across the community including a Primary School programme called Fit 4 U where members of the Abbeycroft team spend one hour a week over a five week period in a primary school helping to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity. The ‘Youth Chill Out’ session takes place at Haverhill Leisure Centre and offers teenagers somewhere to meet with their friends. For a small fee they can use the Wii, play computer games, use the soft play area or just sit and chat.
Abbeycroft Leisure will host the Rwandan Olympic and Paralympics team this summer as they prepare for London 2012. The team of Olympic athletes will arrive in July and the Paralympic athletes in August to take part in their Pre-Games Training Camp. Hosting the Rwandan team has meant forging closer connections with the country and Abbeycroft hopes that the relationship will develop on from the Pre-Games Training Camp to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and the Athletics World Championships in London in 2017.
Elaine Carr, owner of thebestofhaverhill said, “It was very interesting to learn more about the scope of what Abbeycroft is involved with – it’s far greater than just running our Leisure Centre here in Haverhill! It’s also very impressive to hear of a social enterprise growing their turnover by £1 million over the past 5 years. Any organisation can be very proud of that achievement.
The challenges faced are just the same as in business – managing employees, maintaining the quality of service delivery, the economic backdrop and fighting the competition – which is not just other gyms but any activity that competes for our leisure time. Abbeycroft is winning on all counts and I think as business owners we can learn a lot from them, they are another one of Haverhill’s hidden gems. ”
If you would like to learn more about the facilities available at Haverhill Leisure Centre please visit www.acleisure.com.