The Leadership team

Oliver Lee OBE - Chief Executive Officer

Oliver joined Places Leisure in July 2022 and brings with him a wealth and diversity of leadership experience,  working in a number of significant front-line and senior executive roles, most recently as CEO for award-winning social enterprise The Challenge.

Before that, as a Royal Marines Commando, Oliver was the youngest person since World War Two to rise to the rank of full Colonel.

At a very challenging time for the sector, Oliver will be leading the team to deliver the highest levels of safety and quality for both customers and staff.

The longer-term opportunity to deliver ‘prescription’ exercise and a broader spectrum of health and wellbeing services for communities will be at the front of strategic planning for 2022 and beyond.

Oliver Lee

Carolyn D'Costa - Finance Director

Carolyn qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2002 and has been with the company for over 13 years, previously holding the position of Chief Financial Officer. She has considerable experience in financial strategy and management and was instrumental in the expansion of the business in 2012, when Places  Leisure (previously DC Leisure) joined the Places for People Group, resulting in the company status changing to that of a social enterprise.

Carolyn D'Costa

Dan Walker  – Business Development Director

Dan has a wealth of experience in the industry and was appointed as Business Development Director in 2019.

Dan leads a dedicated team undertaking the business development function to secure new leisure management opportunities including new build projects, as well as the extension of our current contracts.

Martin Anderson - Capital Projects Director

Martin is a Chartered Surveyor with over 30 years experience of managing construction projects for both Private Clients and Local Authorities. Before joining Places Leisure Martin was involved in a diverse range of projects including town centre redevelopments, large infrastructure projects and defence projects.  He also has considerable experience in leisure projects starting with indoor tennis centres under the ITI scheme through to large private health clubs incorporating the latest spa and sports facilities and most recently budget gyms. His experience includes a diverse range of PFI and PPP projects. Martin’s involvement ranges from input into the technical aspects of bids through to managing the construction stages of all the major capital investment projects that Places Leisure undertake.

Tom Goodhand - Operations Director

Tom began his career as Duty Manager at Cleethorpes Leisure Centre in 1983. After a brief flirtation with accountancy, he started with Places Leisure (formally DC Leisure) in 1988 and quickly progressed through a wide range of operational posts culminating in his current role as Operations Director.

While in the position of Contract Manager his site was FIA FLAME Centre of the Year Award Winner 1998 and in the same year he was Centre Manager of the Year finalist. Tom has gained vast experience in managing change, including responsibility for numerous new contract mobilisation projects, several major multi-million pound site refurbishments together with closure of old buildings followed by the opening of new state of the art facilities.

During all of this he has enjoyed and suffered the ups and downs of following Grimsby Town FC… the only way is up!


Jamie Brown  – Commercial Activities Director

Jamie has over 15 years’ leisure management experience having worked in the private, public and third sector.

Jamie joined Places Leisure in 2013 as a Contract Manager. Prior to that he was the Operations Director for Aquaterra Leisure. In 2016 Jamie was appointed as Head of Commercial Activities, before he was then appointed as Commercial Activities Director in April 2019.

He leads the Sales, Fitness and Marketing teams and a plays key role in project development and delivery. Projects include implementing Salesforce, Places Locker app and restructuring our membership product range.

Clare Garcia - People Director

Clare has 20 years of experience in Human Resources. She is a graduate in Personnel Management and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Clare joined Places Leisure in 2009 as HR Manager and became part of the Senior Leadership Team in 2020. Clare is responsible for developing and delivering the people strategy and leads a dedicated People team to support our leisure centre teams.


Chris Payne - Strategy & Integration Director

Chris joined Places Leisure in September 2022 after serving in the Royal Marines and Army for 20 years. The second half of his career was spent specialising in developing strategies for Defence and the Royal Navy, with a recent focus on transformational change within Operations.

Chris is excited to use his experience to support the communities we serve through our closer integration with the wider Places for People business, and through forging new strategic opportunities and partnerships.

In his spare time Chris is a keen runner, enjoys HIIT classes and is not averse to the odd physical challenge for a good cause.

Damian Watts - Head of Business Development

Damian has experience spanning 30 years within the leisure industry and this experience includes the operation of both Local Authority and Places Leisure, leisure centres.

Damian joined Places Leisure in 2003 as General Manager, before moving onto a Contract Management role in 2006. In this role Damian took pride in developing and nurturing talent whilst ensuring the commercial success of several new build facilities.

After achieving success as an operator, he made the switch into our Business Development team in 2013 as a Business Development Manager and has since been appointed Head of Business Development in 2020. He leads the team in all aspects of tendering for new business whilst supporting colleagues and clients with all aspects of implementing and delivering contractual compliance.

He is a keen sportsman who coaches both Rugby and Football in his spare time

Keith Evans – Head of Safety

Keith was appointed as Head of Safety in 2022 and has 30 years of experience in the Leisure Industry working in both Public and Private sector.  

Keith joined Places Leisure in 2004 as General Manager before progressing onto Contract Manager in 2007 and Area Manager in 2017.  Keith is responsible for leading the company’s safety strategy and driving a positive safety culture which never compromises on the Health & Safety of colleagues, customers, and contractors.