FAREHAM Leisure Centre has been rated as the best in the country.
It has become the first centre to achieve the Quest Stretch rating, which puts it top of a national league of 560 leisure centres.
Quest is the sports and leisure industry’s rating scheme, supported by the four home countries sports bodies, including Sports England – it is the equivalent to Ofsted for schools.
To qualify, leisure centres undergo a two-year assessment cycle, including undercover mystery visits.
Centre manager Ian Cook said: ‘Leisure centres have, historically, been poorly run, but that’s all changing now. We work fairly closely with the council and they have the confidence in us to allow us to push at the boundaries of what we do.’
The Stretch assessment praised the centre for its community work - it has 18 various groups which use it, ranging from dance classes for children, to fitness classes for heart attack and stroke patients. It also works closely with the NHS, taking patient referrals.
Anita Cacchioli, Quest Stretch advisor, who carried out the validation, said: ‘By being the first centre in the UK to achieve Quest Stretch, Fareham Leisure Centre has proven that it is an exceptional facility.’
She added: ‘Its success is testament to the staff’s can-do attitude, commitment to enhancing local health and wellbeing and on-going performance measurement.
‘The centre is a mature organisation with a history of good management and achievement, and one that is motivated to continually improve.’
The centre is run by Everyone Active on behalf of Fareham Borough Council and around 5,000 people use it every month.
Executive for leisure at the council Connie Hockley said: ‘I’m delighted the staff and facilities at the leisure centre have been recognised for their hard work.
‘This award, and their ‘outstanding’ mark, shows that they’re a fantastic service, and I’m sure the team will be working hard to keep up this high standard.’
Council leader, Councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘The partnership has produced an outstanding leisure centre which has received investment both from the council and Everyone Active despite the straitened times in which we live.
‘It’s a centre of which our residents can be justly proud.’