Boost for Right Directions as team swells by four

Health and safety and quality management expert, Right Directions, has expanded its team with four new industry experts that will cover all aspects of the business, reflecting the leisure sector’s gradual bounce back.

Sarah Maxwell has joined the Right Directions team as Head of External Accreditations, which will see her manage and act as brand ambassador for the leading national quality scheme, Quest, on behalf of Sport England; overseeing its future direction, training, recruitment and mentoring assessors. Maxwell will also manage Right Directions’ other external accreditations, which include the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI), Swim England’s Learn to Swim scheme and the Public Health Suffolk GP Referral scheme.

Maxwell, whose Mum was a PE teacher and Dad was a Sports Science Lecturer, says sport and fitness is in her DNA: “My first summer job at 14 was a sports camp assistant, and my passion for the industry grew from there.  After University I started as a fitness and studio instructor before managing clubs on behalf of JJB Sports and Fitness First. I loved doing a job where you can see first-hand the positive large impact you have on people’s health and wellbeing.”

Prior to her new role, Maxwell worked for Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) OCL for 12 years, culminating her time with the leisure trust as head of health and wellbeing, developing high-quality products and programmes with a focus on customer service. 

She says: “As a previous Quest customer I was aware of the amazing work Right Directions does to help the industry continuously improve and maintain high standards – a visit from the Quest assessor was a chance to showcase the great work we were doing and get an expert’s feedback on how we could become even better.  It allows you to take time to plan, review and measure the impact you are having for your community, and with this knowledge you can really continue to develop your team and improve the services you deliver.

“I also found the Right Directions ‘covid ready’ webinars extremely useful.The team were very friendly and eager to support us, and Caroline’s passion, knowledge and energy was contagious – I knew I wanted to be part of her team.”

Ryan Walker has also joined the team, as one of Right Directions’ Health, Safety and Quality Support Managers. The role will see him visiting leisure centres, primarily across the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to complete a mixture of mystery visits, support days, health and safety audits and quality audits. 

Walker has been involved with Right Directions from early in his career through training and assessments of the leisure centres he was managing.  He says: “Many people find an auditor’s visit a daunting experience, but for me, Right Directions didn’t have that approach.  I saw them as industry experts who had years of experience that could be shared and best practice advised.  Now I want to share the knowledge and experience I’ve gained too, to help organisations improve standards and service and ensure safety is everyone’s number one priority. Paramount for me is making clients feel at ease whilst the process is taking place, encouraging positive conversations and aiming to find engagement whilst being the critical friend.”

Walker started his career in the industry as a lifeguard more than 20 years ago, moving up through the ranks to become a Partnership Manager at GLL with responsibility for the business and organisational performance of the Manchester Partnership.

He says:  “As a lifeguard I became fascinated by people and the stories they shared with us.  It became a family setting; we knew what time people would arrive, how many lengths they would do, what they would have to drink at the café afterwards, and I loved speaking to them.  It was at this stage I developed a real passion for wanting to give the customers the best possible service and experience they could have.

“Since the pandemic, people are adapting their lifestyles to a more healthier one.  However, some leisure centres have had to reduce staffing levels to remain sustainable, and this is where we can step in and support.  By providing clear actions, recommendations and support services, we can minimise the number of hours required ‘back of house’ so they can really focus on the customer and ensuring value for money.”

Also with more than 20 years experience in the sector, Alan Donovan has become a Health, Safety and Quality Support Manager alongside Walker.  Donovan started in the industry as a recreational assistant when he was just 16, and since then has undertaken various roles, with his last position being General Manager for Serco Leisure under Birmingham Community Leisure Trust. 

He says: “Moving to Right Directions provides an opportunity to use my skills and experience to help fellow leisure professionals away from the operational day-to-day management of a leisure centre; every day will be different. The leisure industry is on the road to recovery following the pandemic and there is so much opportunity to develop and grow our offering.  Right Directions is leading the way and I am privileged to be part of the team!”

Paul Harpham also joins the team.  His role as Product Development Manager will see him helping clients with Right Directions’ operational support platform, StaffMis, as well as the accident reporting platform, STITCH, and the new “The Right Place” dedicated client area of the website.

Harpham has worked part time for Right Directions as a Quest Ambassador and Mystery Visitor for many years and says:  “It was fantastic to be presented with an opportunity to join Right Directions full time. I’ve always loved the approachable nature of everyone within the team; they’re extremely friendly, positive and supportive, and I’ve been made to feel so welcome within the business already.”

The marathon and triathlon enthusiast has worked in the leisure industry since leaving school, moving through a number of roles from fitness instructor and junior activities to membership sales, before becoming a General Manager, where he undertook Quest as part of his site’s improvement programme.

He says: “I live and breathe sport and activity, which is why I love the industry we work in! Visiting sites outside of my GM role helped me share best practice within my centres and develop their performances.  Over a six year period our team moved one site from a Good banding to achieve Quest Stretch – Outstanding, and the other from Very Good to Excellent.”

Caroline Constantine, Managing Director of Right Directions says: “The struggle has been real as leisure centres strive to get back to some sort of normality post lockdowns, so we have invested in new Quest products, new Right Directions support services, and new team members to support our sector on its road to recovery.”

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For further information contact:

Abigail Harris at Big Fish Public Relations

Tel: 07738 331019



Editor’s notes:

Right Directions Management provides health and safety and quality management support to the leisure industry, specialising in local authority and trust-managed sites, as well as smaller independent operators.  Right Directions delivers Quest on behalf of Sport England, as well as ukactive’s Code of Practice, the Activity Alliance’s IFI Mark and accreditation for the Swim England’s Learn to Swim Pathway. It has more than 200 years experience within its field.

Abigail Harris About the author
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