New manager looks to increase activities at leisure centre in south Shropshire

A new manager has joined the team at a south Shropshire leisure centre where he hopes to use his experience of organising strong man competitions to lift them to new heights.

SpArc’s new manager – Ian Ison
SpArc’s new manager – Ian Ison

Ian Ison has been appointed as the new manager at SpArc in Bishop's Castle and has been welcomed for his wealth of leisure experience, energy, and enthusiasm.

SpArc trustee Rachel Buchanan said: "Ian brings with him a wealth of experience, and new energy and enthusiasm to our much-valued local leisure centre, and I look forward to seeing what he is going to do to make it even better for the Bishop's Castle community."

Ian began his career in leisure at the age of 16 as a lifeguard, and then worked his way up as a personal trainer, swimming and fitness instructor and finally manager in Sandwell, where he worked for 11 years.

He moved to Shropshire for family reasons and after a while working in Shrewsbury, has made the move down south.

The role is a new challenge for him, and the chance to work with the local community to bring a whole leisure offer, not just sports, to SpArC.

In his previous roles he has run family events including Strong Man competitions, open days and wrestling matches.

He is already working with Enterprise House and the theatre manager to look at activities, fairs, tournaments and other events that utilise the space and bring new people into the centre.

Ian also has an eye out for strengthening the sports and leisure activities.

He has increased the gym opening hours, now open from 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, is working with Water Babies to bring new swim sessions for parents and babies, and has added extra Accessible Swim sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Local sports clubs already use the centre regularly, and a new netball league is due to start in the new year, along with the prospect of a refurbished gym, funded by the SpArC Charity.

SpArc is actively looking for new lifeguards and fitness instructors to open the centre as much as possible.

Mr Ison is keen for everyone in the area to know that SpArc is open to the public, and that we should all come and visit.

He wants to assure users that every effort is being made to keep people as safe as possible, including an ongoing increased cleaning regime, fitness classes currently running in the larger sports hall to offer people more space for distancing, and the opportunity to book sessions in advance to control user numbers.

Contact details for SpArc are available at

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