Leisure centre director retires

Jeff Hart
Jeff Hart

The managing director of Freedom Leisure, which has leisure centres in Hailsham, Uckfield, Crowborough and Heathfield, has retired after 11 years.

Jeff Hart, dedicated 35 years to the fitness and leisure industry and said he is now looking forward to an active retirement, playing golf and spending time with his wife Sandra.

He said: “It has been a joy and a privilege to work at Freedom Leisure for the last 11 years and I would like to thank all my colleagues and associates, past and present, who have helped form this successful Trust.

“I am confident that Freedom Leisure will continue to thrive and believe its role in the communities it serves will remain valuable, ensuring, as it does, that people of all ages have access to first-class facilities at affordable prices so they can enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle.”

Jeff was born and educated in Brighton and after leaving Varndean School he trained as a PE teacher and fell in love with the world of sport.

He quickly progressed to community leisure management.

Earlier in his career, Jeff moved around the country for several years before returning to Sussex in 1989 where he was appointed by Wealden District Council to manage the Uckfield Leisure Centre.

He soon progressed to Head of Leisure at Wealden District Council and was a key driver and core member of the Sussex Leisure Officers Group.

Jeff was the Director of Leisure Services for Wealden District Council until the formation of Freedom Leisure in 2002.

He then presided over Freedom Leisure’s growth from a four site, £2m operation in 2002, to today’s 35 site, multi-contract, £40m turnover business.

A spokesman for Freedom Leisure said: “It is the good fortune of Sussex that he honed his skills, invested his time, passion and talents in the county where he was born and educated.

“Jeff is planning an active retirement alongside his wife Sandra.

“He no longer needs to do his work out at 6.30am before a day’s work but is committed to keeping active.

“Aside from using the gym and pool, Jeff plays golf and hopes to spend more time enjoying this sport.

“An Active Sussex board member since 2010, Jeff’s dedication to delivering community sport, health and leisure is undimmed.

“He has not ruled out taking up voluntary roles in the leisure industry locally and will consider any opportunities that may arise.”

Jeff completed a three-month handover to his successor Ivan Horsfall-Turner on September 30.

Freedom Leisure manages 35 leisure and fitness centres across Sussex, Kent and Surrey, including K2 Crawley, an official training venue for the London 2012 Olympics and Guildford Spectrum, which houses an ice rink, a 32 lane tenpin bowling centre and four swimming pools.

The Freedom Leisure site at Hailsham is currently undergoing £3.1 million redevelopment works.

The works at the centre, which started in February this year, will see a new entrance lobby, a new reception and cafe seating area,

For more information about Freedom Leisure and its different leisure centres visit its website at http://www.freedom-leisure.co.uk/.