Brio Leisure, which operates Northwich Memorial Court and Winsford Lifestyle Centre, has been named the UK’s best health and fitness organisation.

The Community Interest Company, set up by Cheshire West and Chester Council to run its leisure and entertainment centres, was crowned Outstanding Organisation of the Year in the 2019 UKactive Awards.

Judges praised Brio for its efforts to improve the wellbeing of people living in and visiting the borough.

Projects to help people lose weight, become more active and quit smoking – together with Brio’s work making recreational and social activities more affordable and accessible, were highlighted by the awards panel.

The company was also commended for a marketing campaign that bucked the national trend in swimming participation rates as well as satisfaction and for boosting the health and wellbeing of 30,000 residents through their Cheshire Change Hub initiative.

Brio’s partnership with the University of Chester and KT Intelligence, conducting research programmes that have helped more people across the borough be more regularly involved in sports and leisure, was another reason why Brio deserved this year’s top award, said organisers.

Elly McFahn, managing director of Brio Leisure said: “We are over the moon. This just goes to show that the dedication, hard work and focus on our customers has paid off.  To be selected for this achievement over and above all others is testament to the level of innovation and customer focused services we provide, and we are all so proud of being able to make a difference to our borough.”

The UKactive awards span all areas of health, fitness and sport. The awards consider the efforts UK leisure organisations are making to get the nation active.

As well as Brio’s team success, Brio member Rachel Williams was named one of the nation’s unsung heroes in recognition of her battle against physical and mental illnesses.

The mum from Ellesmere Port, who suffers from a rare medical condition and has been in a wheelchair since 15, tried to commit suicide after the death of her baby daughter.

She now champions the lives of those living with mental and physical disabilities.

She was interviewed at the presentation event in Manchester on June 6, by Derrick Errol Evans, better known as TV personality ‘Mr Motivator’.

Audience guests heard how Brio, which also operates centres in Northgate Arena in Chester, and Ellesmere Port Sports Village, had partnered with Sport England in a bid to address the national decline in people swimming.

Using a range of engaging marketing techniques, the company was now seeing a 12 per cent increase in those using West Cheshire’s public pools.

Brio’s work with local GPs had seen 30,000 patients referred to the Cheshire Change Hub programme, helping residents give up smoking, lose weight and be more active to tackle a range of physical and mental health issues.

Brio had also developed different partnerships in local communities.

These included Macmillan Cancer Support, to look at the needs of the borough’s cancer survivors and the Neuro Therapy Centre in Saltney to give those with neurological conditions better access to exercise programmes.

Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and cabinet member for wellbeing, said: “I am so proud of Brio’s success at the UKActive Awards. Its national recognition as Outstanding Organisation of the Year is testament to its achievements across west Cheshire as it works alongside the Council to help us create vibrant and healthy communities and great leisure opportunities for all.”