Our colleague stories

How we're spending our time in lockdown

We're really proud of how our colleagues are volunteering​ or working in their community during this latest lockdown.

Take a look at what they've been up to below!

Luke Thorpe

"Since March 2020, I have been volunteering for Aspire in Derby, a food hub that was a wrestling school.

"We have delivered food to the most vulnerable people in the city and supported schools with breakfast clubs in the local area among other things. We are currently setting up and getting ready for the city’s first community shop, which will eventually give people back control over their spending ability through a system of virtual currency.

"During this time, Ripley Leisure Centre, has kindly donated old stock which could no longer be placed in vending machines and the team have been really supportive of this work through out. I will continue volunteering even when the centre re-opens.

"​It has played a massive role in me applying for a new job with The Department for Work and Pensions as I continue to want to help the most vulnerable people in our society. I will be doing this alongside a shift at the leisure centre when it’s open. I will also be going back to Aspire occasionally to​ help with the community shop."

Reuben Newman, Tennis Coach

​​Congratulations to Reuben Newman-Billington who won the Lawn Tennis Associations Young Person of the Year Award 2021. It's testament to the hard work and commitment Reuben puts in on a day to day basis.

Each year, the LTA Tennis Awards highlight the incredible achievements and contributions of people across Britain. Winners are judged from over 2,000 public nominations and are first judged by 38 County Associations, resulting in 380 County award winners who are then put forward for Regional awards. Finally, the Regional winners are put forward for the National LTA Tennis Awards alongside winners from Tennis Wales and Tennis Scotland.​

Good luck to Reuben for the regional stage!

Graham Munday

“I am keeping in touch with my team and making sure all is well, however my news and new hobby, would be fatherhood, which I was not expecting to experience until February. My son was born 8 weeks premature on the 20th December. He spent three weeks in a special care unit but is back home and both he and mum are doing well.

"This hobby proves to be more challenging than the sports I play and I look forward to returning to work and being able to take him swimming at one of our great facilities. He truly gave us a fantastic end, to what had been, a challenging year.”

Graham Munday

"This time last year we were having the busiest January in a brand new centre. Fast forward 12 months and all the centres are closed, and I am on furlough for a third time. I'm just grateful that I can use my first aid knowledge and experience to volunteer for the NHS and help out through these unprecedented times.

"Whilst on furlough I have been volunteering with the NHS as a First Responder, attending 999 calls alongside paramedics. This takes me to a wide variety of medical emergencies and keeps me on my toes as you never know what is coming next. With Covid, it’s very challenging and harrowing to see how much pressure the NHS are really under, but on the other hand incredibly rewarding at the same time. I’m just grateful to be able to use my skills throughout this time to help others."

Donna Bristoll

"I was looking for something to do during furlough. My colleagues and I have been keeping in regular contact and have been training together (virtually) to keep each other motivated to reach our fitness goals and just stay sane(ish). One of my colleagues has a friend that works for a GP Clinic who was looking for volunteers to help at the vaccine clinics. He was interested in volunteering and asked if we were interested too. We all jumped at the chance!

"A few checks and forms later, we started at a vaccine clinic at 8am in the snow, ushering 300, 80+year olds through the system to receive their first or second COVID vaccinations. We work across four clinics in the area, either directing the individuals through the one-way system, or assisting in logging data.

"It’s an amazing privilege to see the front-line staff operating and to know we’re supporting them to vaccinate our communities. It’s also fun talking to all the lovely people who are happy to be out of the house… even just for half an hour, if it means in the future they get to go out and see their families again!"

Krista Davies

​"My lockdown has once again been really busy. I am a community NHS First Responder and more recently have been helping to coordinate a community "cheer up the town" project. At Christmas we all decided to really go to town and decorate our houses, there was a count down from the Mayor and my son George, also a Places Leisure employee, made some great videos for those who couldn't get out to see the lights. This time we have chosen Hope Sp​rings Eternal as our theme. Everyone is adding flowers, rainbows, ribbons, anything to brighten their gardens or windows. We have a beautiful Abbey here in Malmesbury and we have decorated all the surrounding railings with pom poms."

Shelley Abbott-Jones, Operations Manager

“I have been volunteering for Maldon Volunteering Service since the first lockdown, delivering food parcels, pet food and collecting and delivering prescriptions for those shielding. I have been continuing to keep busy with exercise and have completed various challenges throughout all of the lockdowns the current Challenge for January is to run 5km everyday as part of RED January.”

Ollie Hampson

"I am working for the London Ambulance Service to help during the COVID-19 Lockdown 3.0.

"I am based out of Chelsea Westminster Hospital, St George's and Kings Hospital working with the Maternity unit. I get involved with transporting maternity patients from home to the hospital and assisting the midwife in charge along with delivering babies. Next week I will be dealing with transferring COVID-19 positive patients to different hospitals with a team of doctors.

"My highlight while working with the London Ambulance Service was that on the 15th January at 16:17pm at St George's Hospital in Tooting I delivered a baby girl called Eli. This is the first baby I have delivered. Mother and baby Eli are well and safe."

Nicola Osborne

​“I work at Ferndown Leisure Centre as Customer Service Advisor currently furloughed.

"Last week I supported two elderly relatives, both 98, who have since been tested positive for COVID-19, luckily they are both asymptomatic. I am now self isolating. I live on my own but am in a bubble with my Son, Daughter-in-law and grand-daughter Bali. Bali has kept me sane since she was born three days before lockdown, and being with her brings sunshine to my life and puts a smile on my face.

"I am lucky enough to have a garden so I can exercise regularly and run up to 5km every other day. I practice yoga and have been doing a yoga teaching course since October and currently working on putting together my practical video class, which will hopefully get me signed off and qualified to teach when we are back to some kind of normality. I am constantly working on improving my home, I did a lot outside in the first and second lockdown and I've been doing some clearing and tidying inside in this lockdown.

"I think it's important to have a routine as much as possible during this very challenging time - split by exercise, communication with friends and family, social media, TV, practical household chores, gardening, and cleaning the car. If you are able to then helping support others in the community is invaluable.

"Thank you Places Leisure for supporting your staff so well!"

Emily Allen

Leisure-net (a supplier to Places Leisure) have run a series of Lockdown Conversations with individuals across the sector, starting during lockdown 1.0 and carrying on during this current lockdown. Emily recently featured and what a great ambassador for all we do. You can listen to the full conversation here.