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More than 30 NGBs make regular use of Lilleshall National Sports Centre while some, such as Archery GB, have chosen the centre for their HQ


with the resident NGBs – including hock- ey, gymnastics and archery.

Head of the NSCs Zoe Dixon, who deals with Serco on a day to day basis, says: “There’s now a real focus on working with the NGBs and making sure that the service quality is continually at a high level. When we started the new contract, my team had meetings with Serco to talk about how we could develop a positive relationship and how we would work together to ensure the national centres were as good as they could be. It’s proved to be a very positive arrangement and we’re getting more done by working like this. The contract commits Serco to deliver and things do occasionally go wrong, but there’s a real willingness to put things right and improve.”

Upgraded facilities

Prior to the contract change, Sport Eng- land had funded facility investments that include an indoor archery range at Lilleshall and a hockey pitch at Bisham. Elite training facilities have also been added – including a specialist performance gym and an indoor training track, togeth- er with a medical/rehab hub, manned by four doctors, 12 physiotherapists and two massage therapists. A hydrotherapy pool has also been brought over from the origi- nal British Olympic Association medical centre at Norfolk Park.

Further investment is planned, which will include improvements to the accom- modation block, pavilions, a sports hall at Lilleshall and investment in football pitches at Bisham. However, this will be delayed until after the 2012 Olympics, so as not to compromise the training facili- ties in the run-up.


Sport England used the experience of the NSC procurement process to run a series of seminars, which looked at operational efficiency, facility rationalisation and leisure management contracts and procurement. Alternatives to service reduction and closure of leisure facilities as a response to financial pressures was discussed and the options to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in revenue and capital costs outlined. Information can be obtained at

Mountain training

Regarding Plas Y Brenin, this centre is al- ready regarded as being at the forefront of the mountaineering sport, which is largely thanks to the efforts of its contrac- tor, the Mountain Training Trust. “We put pressure on the trust to main- tain and enhance that reputation, while reducing costs, and they responded posi- tively – the management team are good at making the most of their resources,” says Mills. Adding that there’s no need for facil- ity investment but the trust will continue to invest into sports provision and coaching. Meanwhile, the centre’s been identified as the mountain biking training centre for the Olympic Games and a new mountain bike skills course has been completed. “We’re supporting the centres as much as possible to increase our medal haul next year,” says Mills.

Kath Hudson is a freelance journalist 58 Read Sports Management online

Bisham Abbey Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, this 800-year-old Abbey, based in Marlow, was once home to English nobility. Now it’s a prestigious training venue for more than 20 sports and home to the south east region of the English Insti- tute of Sport, England Hockey and the WIN Tennis Academy. It’s a training base for the rowing and canoeing NGBs, and England Football and Rugby Associa- tions (among others). The centre has 52 bedrooms and a sports science medicine facility, including Europe’s biggest non- military environmental chamber.

Lilleshall Lilleshall Hall, in Shropshire, was built in 1831 as the hunting lodge and fam- ily retreat of the Duke of Sutherland. Now a centre of sporting excellence it’s home to British Gymnastics and the Grand National Archery society. As well as extensive sports facilities, including 35 acres of grass pitches, it offers ac- commodation for 187 people, a lecture theatre and 14 seminar/meeting rooms.

Plas Y Brenin Situated in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales, the original core of the- building was a Grade II listed hotel. Today, the facility offers a year-round programme of mountain sports courses, including rock climbing, mountaineering, scrambling, hillwalking, orienteering, mountain biking, (dry slope) skiing, kayaking and canoeing. A day visitor programme of activities, qualification courses, first aid, mountain rescue and alpine climbing is also on offer.

Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011

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