As a child raised in southern Scotland, Ian dreamt of being a footballer. He admits he was never quite good enough to pursue this professionally, but his love of sport influenced his career choice – leisure was the industry for him.
Ian’s long and varied career in leisure means he is well placed to deliver the Institute of Swimming’s acclaimed Pool Plant Operator Training Courses.
Back in the early 1990’s after completing a Sports Recreation Course, followed by what would today be an HND in Leisure Management, Ian began his career.
“We all have to start somewhere, and after college and a few part time jobs here and there, I got my first break with a full time job at a small hotel chain, which had a little pool. I was a Recreation Assistant and a Lifeguard, but I up-skilled on the job and within three years was already the Leisure Club Manager. My sights were set on the next big role and I left Scotland, headed south, and secured a job with a large charitable trust, going from a small hotel pool to being a the Manager of a leisure centre with a 50-metre pool. It was quite the beginning!”
Since then Ian has managed public pools, hotel leisure clubs, water parks and a national stadium. However, it was during his time with Leisure Connections’ where he found his calling to train others. He says:
“Training is one of my passions. My own career has been built on up-skilling, both in-house and through external training providers, and I am committed to sharing my knowledge to enrich the future of the leisure industry.”
After leaving facility management in 2009, Ian became a registered Chartered Health and Safety Practitioner working in sport and leisure, gaining valuable insight into all aspects of the industry, with extensive knowledge and expertise across the sector. Ian has a particular interest in swimming pools; plant rooms, lifeguarding and supervision of swimming pools and open water. Ian also sits on the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) Council.
“I love being a Lead Tutor for the Institute of Swimming, and I see their pool plant training as being the market leader, with the most informed and educated tutors. What’s fantastic is the qualification evolves, being considerate of the ever changing regulations and advancements in pool plant safety.
“I’m passionate about aquatics and want to see as much water space as possible for the public to use and enjoy. This means, as well as operating with good health and safety systems in place, pools must be designed well, with good engineering that is considerate of reducing energy costs and being better for the environment. Aquatics is at a turning point.
“Combined with the cost of energy crisis, post pandemic the industry is suffering from a skill fade from people leaving the sector and a lack of people joining. Coming back from the pandemic has been hard, and although demand for swimming is high, we are sadly closing more leisure centres than we are building.
“Swimming is wonderful for wellbeing, helping people to get well and to keep them mobile for longer. Increasingly, it’s now one of the only leisure locations where you can’t be glued to your phone or technology, and I want pools to be safe and fun for all generations.”