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BANGOR’S AURORA Aquatic Centre has enjoyed success as the winner of the first ever prestigious World Cup of Pools competition, as voted by Twitter supporters.

Serco Leisure encourages communities to make a splash…

Serco’s leisure business enters the second half of 2021 with a fair degree of optimism. The challenges of the COVID era are far from over but the company’s swimming pools and gyms are once again seeing the welcome sight of happy customers benefitting from the Serco Leisure health and fitness experience. As a provider of leisure services on behalf of Community Leisure Trusts, local authorities and Sport England and with a mission statement of ‘Building Stronger Communities Together’ – Serco Leisure is part of the nation’s drive towards more active lifestyles, helping customers enjoy the mental and physical benefits that come from increased activity. “The leisure industry will be impacted upon from several fronts,” reflects Dan Bradbury, Head of Leisure Business Development as the company steers itself post-Lockdown. “At this point we still have occupancy restrictions in place and of course the threat of further Lockdown measures due to new variants creates added uncertainty,” Dan adds. With regard to health and fitness, consumers now have greater choice with the expansion of digital platforms and Serco is looking to embrace that culture change. Dan points out: “During the lockdown periods we provided streamed group exercise classes which have been attended by almost 30,000 people to date.

“Encouragingly, demand for swimming across our portfolio has been high,” he continues. “Since reopening our indoor facilities on April 12th, we have added over 4,000 new sign-ups to our swimming lesson programme as we begin the long journey back to pre-Covid numbers for this popular activity.” For casual and family swims, Serco has been seen close to 100% capacity for many of the sessions being offered. Dan again: “As social distancing restrictions ease, we’ll be able to open up more slots and get even more people back into the water, something our numbers show they’ve dearly missed over the past 14 months.” Serco Leisure won the title Water Leisure Operator of the Year at the 2018 and 2019 UK Pool & Spa Awards. Underlining Serco’s commitment to quality amenities, in the same competition, Serco Leisure also won the Water Leisure Venue of the Year for its Water Meadows centre in Mansfield. Other outstanding venues in Wet ‘n’ Wild, Bangor Aurora and Erdington Leisure Centre all picked up Gold Standard certificates.

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Helen Bull joined Serco in February this year in a newly created role – National Commercial Aquatics Manager. She previously worked at the prestigious London Aquatics Centre and a few years prior to that, she’d been part of the team at Walt Disney World in Orlando and later Disneyland Paris. “My role was created to re-energise the commercial element of aquatics at Serco Leisure sites,” she says. We offer a product that customers want, with swimming lessons being something always in demand. But I feel Serco has been underselling the quality of its aquatics offering, and we need to be more ambitious in terms of sales targets we’re setting ourselves,” she continues. “I’m confident we have the people and the product to hit targets and I’m genuinely excited about the future of aquatics at Serco Leisure.”

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With enforced downtime for the industry brought about by COVID-19, the team invested heavily in team communications. “One of the things we definitely did well as a business last year was communicate,” shares Communications Manager, Alan Mitchell. “Using the communications App Our People, we issued video updates from senior colleagues, providing business updates, celebrating achievements, or simply hearing how they were dealing with the challenges of lockdown life. “We also heard from team members talking about how they were coping with furlough, or home schooling or tips on baking banana bread! “It’s great to be open again but the lessons we learnt during 2020 are ones we’ve taken into 2021 and live by as a business, namely, we put out messages where colleagues are going to see them; we’re up front in how we deal with issues and we take every opportunity to celebrate the great work of the people across our contracts.”