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Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and Stone Leisure Centre win top awards

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and Stone Leisure Centre are celebrating after winning accolades at the national Freedom Leisure Awards Ceremony.

Stone Leisure Centre was awarded Best Performance of the Year across all Freedom Leisure sites for their fantastic Learn to Swim programme, while the Gatehouse Theatre won the Wales and The North Region’s Healthy Communities Project of the Year for their Classic Film Afternoon programme. Stone Leisure Centre and the Gatehouse Theatre are managed by Freedom Leisure on behalf of Stafford Borough Council.

Stone’s Learn to Swim programme has been a huge success, involving beginners of all ages and Manager Nick Meehan said:

‘We help children from 3 months upwards and adults to learn how to swim. It’s a fantastic experience that opens up new possibilities for everyone, as well as supporting confidence, enjoyment and safety in the water. We’re delighted to have won this award as recognition for the team’s efforts and also for the people who have come along and learned to swim with us.’

The Gatehouse Theatre’s Classic Film Afternoons have also been a huge hit with the local community and General Manager Gary Stevens said:

‘We’ve been blown away by the response from people in Stafford and beyond. We show classic films and people get a cake and a hot drink for as little as £5.00 in total.’

The events are Dementia Friendly and also operate alongside the Gatehouse’s involvement in the Chatty Café initiative.

Gary added:

‘We love being a place where people can just pop in for a coffee and a chat, use our free wi-fi or just warm up at this time of year! We are a community facility and the Classic Film Afternoons are a brilliant example of why the Gatehouse is at the heart of the community in Stafford.’

The next Classic Film Afternoon is on December 7 when there will be a special Christmas showing of the Bing Crosby film, Holiday Inn (film starts at 1.00pm).

Freedom Leisure Chief Executive Officer Ivan Horsfall Turner visited the Stafford and Stone venues to  congratulate the teams personally on Friday.

He said: ‘I’m really pleased to present the Healthy Communities Award for this very innovative project to the Gatehouse. The theatre team are making a positive contribution in respect to mental health benefits to the local community.

‘I’m also delighted for the Stone Leisure Centre team and their important Learn To Swim programme. Not only is this a great way to have fun, it could also save lives in the future.’

Freedom Leisure’s Stafford Area Manager Liz Hulse said:

‘I am delighted to share the good news that our teams at Stone Leisure Centre and the Gatehouse Theatre were recognised for their achievements at our company conference. It’s great to see the success and hard work of our colleagues in Stafford Borough recognised nationally.’


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