On the 1st April 1998, Edinburgh Leisure was established. Over the last 25 years, Edinburgh Leisure has strived to making a positive difference to the people of Edinburgh, supporting them to get and stay active.
Today, Edinburgh Leisure manage over 50 sport and leisure venues across the city, including Europe's largest climbing arena, 6 unique golf courses, 17 gyms, 12 swimming pools, 750+ fitness classes a week, 3 soft plays and much more. As a charity, we serve Edinburgh's community, helping them live healthier and happier lives.
In celebration of Edinburgh Leisure turning 25, CEO June Peebles shares her fond memories over the years. June reflects on how Edinburgh Leisure has evolved and grown, including the opportunities that have been created to support Edinburgh in being an active and healthy community.
As a charity, we deliver 22 projects within our Active Communities programme, which help break down barriers to physical activity and help people lead healthier, happier and more active lives. We currently support over 10,000 people in Edinburgh every year affected by health conditions, disabilities, inequalities and poverty to get active and stay active.
Over the last year, we have supported 3,240 new refugees, asylum seeks and migrants to access our gyms, swimming pools and fitness classes free of charge through our Relocated People Programme, to protect their health, wellbeing and connect to their new communities.
We've supported 1,000 care experienced children and young people to enjoy the healthy and active childhoods they deserve through Looked After & Active and You Can.
In the last year, we also have supported 100 young people experiencing mental health issues through a pilot project Be Strong, Be You to recover and thrive.
Volunteers are the backbone of Edinburgh Leisure's Active Communities programme. They make an enormous difference to people's lives and quite simply, many of our projects couldn't exist without them.
In June 2018, our Ageing Well programme, which promotes healthy lives for older adults in Edinburgh, was awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the 'MBE' for volunteer groups.
Over the last 25 years, Edinburgh Leisure has taken on over 8,000 members of staff, 58 of which have been with us for the whole 25 years. Our employees are what make us so special and without them, we would not be who or where we are today.
Members of staff from across Edinburgh Leisure have shared their memories of working with us over the last 25 years. Have a read below, were you around for any of these?
Wendy Avinou, now Glenogle and Dalry Manager, has been reminiscing about her days being EdiB.
Wendy dressed as EdiBi at various events including swimming galas, street fairs, birthday parties, gymnastics displays and much more! EdiB was even on ITV during the Platinum Jubilee.
Wendy loved being EdiB and she misses him very much!
Louise Bathgate, now Leith Victoria Operations Manager, organised a 'Set for Sport' event at Craiglockhart Tennis Centre. On the day, Andy Murray and his mother came along to take part, introducing the children to some sports games.
Staff Sports Days have always been great events, full of fun activities for our staff to enjoy and get some competition going.
Above is some pictures from a Sports Day held at the old Meadowbank. Many of the staff in these pictures are still with us today.
In 2018, Ross Collins, Gym Development Manager supported Phil Calvert, a PT at Edinburgh Leisure, in a challenge to raise funds for the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation, raising money and awareness for MND.
From 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018, Phil completed 52 Marathons in 52 weeks, covering a total distance of 1363.4 miles. In the same time, Ross supported Phil by completing a Half Marathon a week, covering a total distance of 681.6 miles.
Joined by Scott Hastings, Scottish & British Rugby Union Legend, the trio set out to complete the challenge on 31st December 2018, running around Arthurs Seat with family and friends. Afterwards, they celebrated in the Royal Commonwealth Pool, where Doddie made a surprise appearance.
Altogether, the team raised 13k to help the fight against MND.
In 2003 the City Tennis Club initiative was launched to improve Parks Tennis in the UK – the Meadows was part of this. Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, was a big tennis fan and to launch the initiative he held a bash at Downing St and parks involved got to invite a player to go down.
Alex Harkins, Tennis Development Officer, chose one of Edinburgh Leisure's most keen Tennis players at the time to attend the event. In the picture above, Sarah can be seen in a green t-shirt. She had an amazing time and went on to play with Edinburgh Leisure for years, being part of the 18 & Under league winning team.
John McEnroe, former American Professional Tennis Player, can also be seen in the picture above, waiting to have a rally with Sarah and her team mate.
Alex Harkins, Tennis Development Officer, has worked for Edinburgh Leisure for the last 21 years. During this time, Alex has helped take children to events like Wimbledon, Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.
Alex shared 'The thrill of taking players to see professional tennis for the first time and the look on their faces has been so rewarding.'
The girls in the picture above went on to become East of Scotland 18 & Under Division 1 Champions and Cup Winners a few years later. One of the boys also went on to play for the East of Scotland Men's County Team. Who knows, maybe a trip to Wimbledon inspired them!
Craig Ireland - Edinburgh Leisure Welcome Host
Craig started his career in April 1984 and is celebrating his 39th year with us this month. Over the years, Craig has worked in many roles within Edinburgh Leisure, his first being in the Royal Commonwealth Pool Café. During his time here, he had the opportunity to meet Barbara Windsor and Christopher Biggins.
Some of Craigs favourite memories include working at the Commonwealth Games in 1986 and the European summit at Meadowbank. Craig has loved his career at Edinburgh Leisure and looks forward to his future with us.
Vicki Mercer - Edinburgh Leisure Leisure Attendant
25 years ago, Vicki Mercer joined Edinburgh Leisure as a Receptionist at Meadowbank Sports Centre. At the time, Vicki was pregnant with her son, who was born in September 1998. Over the years, Vicki has felt very fortunate to have been able to blend her role with Edinburgh Leisure and her family life.
Vicki shared 'Edinburgh Leisure has played a big part in my family, whether it was coaching classes, birthday parties and the many memorable and fun outings at Meadowbank Sports Centre Fireworks Displays. Edinburgh Leisure has certainly grown over the years just like my children.'
Shirley McLeish - Edinburgh Leisure Welcome Host
Shirley has been with us since we first opened 25 years ago, starting out as a Creche Supervisor at Jack Kane and the Royal Commonwealth Pool. After the Creche service was stopped, Shirley moved to Soft Play at Craiglockhart, then back to the Royal Commonwealth Pool a few years later where she has been since.
During her time working with Edinburgh Leisure, Shirley has taken part in annual sponsored walks to raise funds for Barnardo's with the Edinburgh Leisure team. Shirley has also organised coffee mornings at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, raising funds for MacMillian Cancer Support.
Ian Reilly - Pool Plant Manager
Ian has just celebrated his 21st year with Edinburgh Leisure. On the 17th March 2002, Ian started a new job as Leisure Attendant at Leith Waterworld. Ian then went on to become Leith Waterworld Supervisor in 2003, before being promoted to Duty Manager in 2005. Ian has spent the last 18 years various roles, and is now the Pool Plant Manager.
Ian shared 'I’ve done a variety of roles in my time with EL. I have loved most of them but I think I’ve found the perfect job for me.'