Pool People :Craig Valentine – Health & Safety Support Manager at Bourne Leisure

craigCraig oversees the leisure teams at each of Bourne Leisure’s 55 sites, including brand names like Haven, Warner and Butlins. His main expertise is in swimming pool safety, encompassing the group’s 122 swimming pools, spas and water play areas. He is also responsible for the safety of large arena events, held at Butlins’ Minehead throughout November and March.

What is a typical day in the office for you? Dependent on the needs of the business, my day can start at one of the three offices; Hemel Hempstead, Butlins Minehead, or my most frequented office – the car! I travel around 44,000 miles a year and I am frequently asked “Are you not fed up with it?” To which I answer “Every day is different and I do not do the same thing twice.”

How long have you worked for Bourne Leisure? I first got a job running a small bar and restaurant at Butlins Minehead in 1988. After a few months I transferred to the leisure department and in 1991 my big break came when I was offered a Leisure Manager position at Butlins Ayr. In the year 2000, I accepted a role working back at Minehead for the health and safety department and I’ve been here ever since.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the diversity of my role. I can be dealing with a pool problem one minute and then an issue with a high ropes course the next. I consider myself lucky to be in such a diverse job.

What are the biggest challenges you face? Dealing with the different bodies of the leisure industry and trying to interpret what they require and how we have to implement the latest regulations can be challenging. Each part of the country works differently and you have to make sure that all policies and procedures fit.

What has been your most interesting experience in the industry? I was on the EU committees for the Water Slides & Swimming Pool standards. I got to see how our friends over the water work and deal with standards wise. It is not a quick process and let’s just say you need lots of time and diplomatic skills.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? And by whom? The best piece of advice was given to me by my old boss Andrew Muscroft. He was the one that encouraged me to take the leisure management position at Ayr and I will always be thankful to him for that. Although I’m not sure if he just wanted to get rid of me!

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work? I love to play golf and the people that know me would say it was an obsession. I have always been a big football fan and used to follow my team (Man City) away and home until I relocated. I now spend a lot of time with my family, having recently become a grandfather.

Last word? I think the most humbling thing for me is when I ask some of our leisure managers what they see themselves doing in the future and they say they would love to take over from me one day.