Drayson celebrates rise from school drop-out to UK fitness industry's Outstanding Individual of 2017
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Drayson celebrates rise from school drop-out to UK fitness industry's Outstanding Individual of 2017

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I'm living proof you can start with nothing and get to a good place
– Danny Drayson, senior fitness coach, Life Leisure

Danny Drayson has been on a journey from school drop-out to fitness and young person development ambassador at Life Leisure – and has now landed Active Training Awards' Outstanding Individual of the Year title along the way.

The father-of-two, who collected his award earlier this month, joined Life Leisure’s Motivator Scheme in 2011, initially working as a volunteer before qualifying to receive certified training in fitness instruction.

Having climbed the ladder to his current post as senior fitness coach at Life Leisure Grand Central in Stockport, Greater Manchester, Drayson is set to start his new ambassadorial role for the organisation in January, where he will be responsible for developing young people entering the sector.

Speaking to Leisure Opportunities on his award, Drayson said: “It was the biggest shock – I didn't think I was going to win. This type of thing doesn't happen to people like me, it was surreal.

“Life Leisure has never been judgemental but at school it was different – I was judged and people still might be getting judged. I'm living proof you can start with nothing and get to a good place.”

The operator, which runs 12 leisure and sports centres, also won Medium Employer of the Year at the awards, held at Reading Hilton in Berkshire.

Life Leisure chief executive Malcolm McPhail said: “This has to be one of my proudest moments: to see Danny win a national individual award and be recognised by his peers is absolutely amazing.”

More than 250 thought-leaders from the physical activity sector attended ukactive's Active Training Awards this month to celebrate successful workforce development throughout the industry.

For a second year running, Future Fit Training won Training Provider of the Year. Managing director Rob Johnson told Leisure Opportunities: “I'm absolutely delighted – we've consistently tried to drive up standards and we've proven you can deliver high-quality training over a long period of time.

"We're producing personal trainers, pilates teachers and nutrition advisors who can forge a career in the industry. We're giving people the right tools to do the job.”

Elsewhere, Active Tameside won the Outstanding Achievement award for overcoming significant organisational challenges through effective strategy, staff development and leadership.

Charitable social enterprise GLL scooped the Apprenticeship Provider of the Year gong. GLL’s apprenticeship scheme develops people at its Better leisure centres and GLL College – with 92 per cent of apprentices remaining in permanent employment at the organisation.

1610, which employs 450 people at 19 leisure centres in the South West, won the Transformational Leadership award after restructuring to meet challenges of reduced public funding and the impact of the increased national living wage.

Other winners included: York Sport (Small Employer of the Year); Virgin Active (Large Employer of the Year); Premier Global NASM (Best Innovation); CanRehab (Specialist Training Programme of the Year); and Oomph! Wellness (Outstanding Achievement).

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