50 For A Reason – #25 Putting Our Best Foot Forward

There have been a couple of significant changes at Live Active Leisure this month and Nicki caught up with the boss himself, Jim Moyes our CEO to chat about the year ahead for our customers, brand and service.

When it comes to an organisation the size of Live Active Leisure there is always change; adapting to new fitness trends, improving and maintaining our venues, developing and training the team in the latest techniques, seeking new partnerships and of course ‘balancing the books’… there is never a dull moment! Every now and then though, a very different and significant change comes and with it there is always an opportunity to look at the bigger picture of sports provision in our communities.

netball003On 1st April 2016, Live Active Leisure welcomed Active Schools, Outdoor Adventure and Sports Development into their fold. This included the management and operation of two Outdoor Activity Centres; one at Blackwater and the other at Kinloch Rannoch. These services have previously been provided by Perth and Kinross Council but it was agreed that Live Active Leisure, a Trust with charitable status operating on a ‘non-profit’ basis and with almost 50 years of success in the field, was best placed to maximise the benefits of bringing together the wider range of sports, leisure and physical activity provision.  

As an independent charitable organisation, LAL is run by a Board of eight Volunteer Directors from across our community who are complimented by three elected representatives of the Local Authority.  All of these people bring with them huge professional, business or local knowledge, and solid experience which supports and develops sport, leisure and physical activity in our area. The Trust’s key goal is singular and focused – they want to encourage our entire community to live life in a more active manner.    Yes, it would be perfect if all people decided to use  LAL venues or services to do this but in actual fact, the overall aim is more about a local population full of healthy, happy people engaging in physical activity at all stages of their lives – regardless of venue or provider.  

Capture2I caught up with Jim Moyes, Chief Executive of Live Active Leisure over a coffee in Bell’s Sports Centre’s Café Active to find out what he was particularly looking forward to for the year ahead.

“I think I’d start by saying how pleased I am to welcome on board Active Schools, Outdoor Adventure and Sports Development services and our new colleagues.  Over the years we’ve worked closely with all of these activity areas and the teams involved have already delivered programmes alongside their new LAL colleagues with much success.  The idea of building on these foundations to bring a full range of services to the community, all within the high standards we seek within Live Active Leisure is very exciting.

When I see the Active Schools work in practice I know there is an opportunity for LAL to build even stronger links with children and their families, further encouraging them to take what they’re doing in their school environment and roll it out into other activities during the weekends and evenings, thus making physical activity an enjoyable and regular part of their family and individual lives.  Having that ‘bridge’ between school and community life is really important because it is essential we do all we can to make physical activity an easy and fun choice  for busy parents, allowing them to connect with what’s available and going on in their local area.

From there we can look at the new and exciting skills set and opportunities that the outdoor adventure staff bring and start to think of ways to further develop links between the indoor sports, leisure, fitness and physical activity on offer throughout our eighteen venues across Perth and Kinross, and the fabulous outdoor opportunities that exist on our doorstep.   It’s clear that more adventurous sports and activities are becoming increasingly popular and with our great countryside in this part of Scotland, LAL needs to be part of that.

swimclub062For me, being in a position where I can say that we absolutely believe we have something for everyone is a fantastic feeling.  If you have the slightest inkling to get moving, be more active and have fun doing so, then we generally have an activity, a class, a sports hall, a gym or a personal trainer that can make that happen for you in some way.  Whatever it is you decide you want to do, we can deliver it, prepare you for it, or even simply ‘point you in the right direction’ if needs be. 

Quite apart from the additional venues and the wide and varied programmes we’ve brought in as part of the transfer of services, I’m confident that we have the potential to deliver on so many levels because underpinning everything is the experience and knowledge of a phenomenal team of nearly six hundred people.  And I know that each and every one of them believes in the huge benefit of being involved in sport, leisure and physical activity, no matter in what form that may be.   

I work with incredible people each and every day and their commitment to what we try to do is fantastic. Couple that with the customers who join us and I believe we have something of significant value that contributes hugely to the quality of life available in our part of Scotland.

pool080 1What we do… It’s a big remit that we cover now and yet I think  some people will still perceive us a bit too traditionally as a provider of ‘public’ swimming pools, sports centres and longstanding sports such as  badminton and football and fitness sessions such as gyms.  Of course all of these things are an important part of our offer but that isn’t the whole picture by a long way. We want to show that everything from walking and gardening to skateboarding and mountain biking are all great ways to lead more active lives.  Anything that involves you moving – and being away from a screen hour after hour – is a positive step forward in our book.  Make that fun too and it’s a win, win!

Listen, I know I have a vested interest in encouraging folks through our doors; our business is no different from any other in that respect. The only difference is that we reinvest 100% of our resources back into the provision of services and venues and we don’t pay out a penny to ‘shareholders’ as we only have one, and that’s the Council as our Sole Member. 

And whilst we deliver a wide range of venues and services through our contract with the Council, we also need to generate income to maintain our venues and services and we seek to do this without ever forgetting that these are economically challenging times. We also have invaluable support from funding bodies - for example, The Gannochy Trust - who help us in our efforts to deliver added value benefits across various sections of our community through a number of different initiatives.   

And so, because the vast majority of our income is self-generated or coming from sources such as The Gannochy Trust,  as an organisation we need to generate money from key activities to ensure our future endeavours are cross-funded and the many important non-profit making services we deliver to the more vulnerable or disadvantaged or health challenged sections of our community continue to  happen.    We are at heart a socially motivated organisation that has commercial acumen throughout its Board and team to help deliver sustainability and services that otherwise would not be possible.

skate072Which all brings us nicely to PH2O.  This remains LAL’s exciting vision for its ‘flagship’ site in Perth which houses Perth Leisure Pool and Dewars Centre and by the end of summer we will be working with our partners to agree a plan for the development.  PH20 will benefit all of the ambitions I’ve talked about as well as creating a modern and exciting activity venue and a hub for signposting people to the many fantastic sporting and activity opportunities that Perth and Kinross has on offer.

As well as delivering great sports, leisure and fitness opportunities and encouraging people to live more actively we also support our local talented athletes through our Talented Athlete and Coaching programmes in Perth and Kinross.  People like Stephen Milne and Camilla Hattersley heading off to Rio bring a huge enjoyment to the entire city and beyond, and being even a small part of their success gives all of us at LAL a real sense of pride.

And of course, with venues and locations such as Bell’s Sports Centre right here on the North Inch we find ourselves welcoming in events such as the amazing Juggling Convention, Scottish Gymnastics Events, National Leagues and the annual Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament, to name but a few. The venue, setting and its location to the city centre are a real strength and this helps Bell’s Sports Centre to host events on 48 weekends out of 52; that has a huge impact on us and on the city centre businesses and beyond, that benefit from room nights, people eating out and other secondary activities.

Finally for this year, with sport, fitness and physical activity being a clear focus at a national level it is our job here in LAL to embrace the research, national trends and other influences and ensure we apply them locally, so that our services are relevant for our communities and the people that we serve.

Because that is ultimately what matters at the end the day. It matters that people want and like what we deliver and I know I speak for the entire Live Active Leisure team when I say that despite   incredibly difficult economic times and working with reduced available funding I’m looking forward to another new and exciting chapter in our 50 year history. Surely with our excellent venues, relevant and exciting programmes and a strong understanding of the huge benefits of being physically active, there are now more opportunities and more reasons than ever before to get out and live active in Perth and Kinross.”   


The new services which have moved over to become part of Live Active Leisure’s responsibilities are:

ACTIVE SCHOOLS – Active Schools is responsible for developing and supporting volunteer led, physical activity and sport opportunities that take place out with school hours, both within the school and wider community.

Recruiting, supporting, training and sustaining a network of volunteers including senior pupils, coaches, leaders and teachers who in turn deliver physical activity and sport opportunities is a key role of the Active Schools staff.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE – Live Active Leisure is now responsible for Kinloch Rannoch Outdoor Centre and Black Water Outdoor Centre.  We’ll be bringing you news and developments on both of these soon!

SPORTS DEVELOPMENT - Our Sports Development will continue to give a boost to our clubs, athletes and communities so that they can grow capacity, develop and provide opportunities.