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Former Chamber chairman takes over the helm of Abbeycroft board

Tuesday, 30th October 2012.

Businesswoman and current trustee Sarah Howard has been elected chairman of Abbeycroft’s Board of Trustees.

Sarah, 45, took over from current chairman Brian Jones who has stepped down after serving a maximum of five years. Brian will now become vice-chairman.

As a leisure trust, Abbeycroft Leisure, which runs the Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centres, is governed by an independent board of trustees made up of skilled volunteers each with their own areas of expertise and interest.

Sarah, who is a director at Sarand Ltd, a business software company in Haverhill and a Suffolk Chamber of Commerce board member, was until recently the chairman of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, serving a maximum of four years in the role.

Sarah has a background in recruitment and management and has worked for high-profile organisations including JP Morgan, Badenoch and Clark and KPMG. She is also the vice-chairman of ONE Haverhill.

She takes over from Brian Jones who in his five years as chairman has seen considerable developments at Abbeycroft including a £5.2million refurbishment of Haverhill Leisure Centre including the development of very popular new indoor play area Kid City, the opening of a new 110-station fitness studio by Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell, the growing success of the St Edmundsbury Sports Awards, and numerous awards for the leisure trust.

During this time Abbeycroft has also opened its first budget gym in the heart of Ipswich in Suffolk, one of only a handful of leisure trusts in the UK to branch out and develop this affordable fitness model.

Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre was chosen as an official London 2012 Pre-Games Training Camp for the Rwanda Olympic and Paralympic teams who trained at the centre this summer.

Sarah said: “Brian has overseen an incredible five years for Abbeycroft which culminated this year in the trust’s Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre becoming an official London 2012 pre-games training camp.

"Abbeycroft has grown from strength to strength and I look forward to building on that success and taking the trust forward.”

Abbeycroft Leisure was established in 2005 as a Charitable Leisure Trust and independent, registered company, lLimited by guarantee. It manages both Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centres in partnership with St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Abbeycroft also delivers much of the sports development and outreach work in the borough.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “I would like to say thank you to Brian who in the last five years has provided Abbeycroft with strong leadership and has supported me in my role as chief executive.

"We have had an unbelievable five years and I am very much looking forward embarking on a new working relationship with Sarah and a new stage of Abbeycroft’s development.”

Haverhill Online News

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