Retiring Leisure Trust Leader Welcomes Successor for New Era and Reflects on Key Projects

The Managing Director of IHL, who has made great contributions to our leisure and culture services in the north and Midlands, including a landmark ‘phoenix-from-the-ashes’ leisure centre which replaced another destroyed by fire, has announced his retirement and welcomed his successor.

Pete Burt is retiring from Inspiring healthy lifestyles (IHL), our not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity which operates services in the districts of Selby, North Yorkshire, and Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.

He is being succeeded at the end of June by Chris Derbyshire, a long-term colleague who is current Deputy Managing Director at IHL.

Pete Burt, aged 63, has spent 17 years in the leisure sector and previously worked for large utilities companies in his early career.  He crossed into the leisure sector in 2004 with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust. He became Commercial Director in 2008 and then Managing Director in 2014. He said joining the social enterprise and charitable organisation was the best career move he ever made and the Managing Director job was his most rewarding role.

Reflecting on the past 17 years, Pete said winning the contracts in Selby and Cannock Chase followed by developing genuine and strong partnership arrangements with both these client Councils to modernise and deliver high quality leisure and services with them, along with developing the GM Active collective of leisure trusts in Greater Manchester, were among his highlights.

In North Yorkshire with Selby District Council, IHL secured Sport England funding to build the new Selby Leisure Centre to replace the Abbey Leisure Centre which was destroyed by fire in 2012. The new centre was opened in 2015 by double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and the Deputy Leader of Selby District Council, Gillian Ivey. It includes two swimming pools, a gym, sauna and steam room and a synthetic outdoor sports pitch.

In Greater Manchester, Pete was Chairman of the GM Active collective whose 12 member-organisations collectively operate 87 facilities and employ 3,600 people in leisure, sport and cultural facilities across the region’s ten boroughs.

GM Active has developed innovative services including targeted exercise and wellbeing advice for people with particular heath conditions or other needs. Working collaboratively with leisure, health, research and charity sectors, initiatives include the Prehab4cancer programme delivered in leisure centres to help people with cancer prepare for and recover from treatment.

In Staffordshire, IHL recently invested over £0.5million into Chase Leisure Centre, which further supported previous investment by Cannock Chase District for an extensive refurbishment of the facility in 2012. This involved a range of improvements, in addition to the local district council’s £6.5 million investment by funding the creation of a new health and fitness suite. The centre boasts some of the region’s most modern sports and community facilities. Rebecca Adlington also supported the reopening ceremony at Chase.

Speaking about his retirement, Pete said: “I have been immensely proud to lead the trust as Managing Director. I will always reflect on our achievements on behalf of the communities in Wigan, Cannock Chase and Selby, plus the special work we contributed to across Greater Manchester through GM Active.

“However, having led the Trust through the major challenges Covid-19 has presented, I’ve decided it is time to hand the reins on. Now that we have come through the pandemic, with the support of all colleagues and the IHL board, it is time to step aside and let Chris Derbyshire lead the next exciting phase of recovery and re-growth. I’ve worked with Chris throughout my 17 years with the trust and watched him grow into a committed, skilful and now experienced leader, ready to take the next step up.”

Chris Derbyshire, aged 41, who is from Bolton, Greater Manchester, said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role. The opportunity to ensure an effective recovery from the current pandemic and lead an organisation with an excellent track record is both rare and exciting. I am huge believer in the benefits of leisure and cultural services. Beyond contributing to the local economy, lowering the risk and impact from life-limiting illnesses, improving wellbeing and social cohesion, the sector has a unique ability to inspire and engage people. I would like to thank Pete for his support and guidance throughout my career and wish him an active retirement.”

Gareth Cross, trustee and chair of the IHL board, said: “I have worked closely with Pete for many of his 17 years and we have built up a strong, honest and successful working relationship throughout this time. I would like to thank him for his many years’ service, and wish him well during his retirement, voluntary work and any other future opportunities he pursues.

“I and the board would also like to congratulate Chris on his appointment, I am sure he will lead the trust forward with passion and integrity delivering future success for our charitable organisation.”

Pete Burt grew up in Preston, attended Lostock High School and Preston Sixth Form College, and supports Preston North End FC. After completing a degree in Liverpool, he spent 19 years with British Gas and then Centrica, undertaking a range of roles in marketing, retail and customer service management at regional and then national level. He later joined Scottish Power Retail as Director of Customer Service in 1999 before moving into community leisure.

He said: “I’m a keen advocate for the work done by social enterprises for all our communities and the role that sport, leisure and physical activity plays for maintaining physical and, crucially, mental wellbeing.”

In retirement, Pete is looking to stay active physically, to undertake some part-time work but will also look to offer his services back in a voluntary capacity to a number of charitable leisure organisations. He has always enjoyed playing sport, especially football and tennis along with walking, hiking and cycling, which he especially enjoys when visiting the Lake District, Cornwall and Scotland.

As it plans for the future, Inspiring healthy lifestyles is currently searching for new volunteer trustees to join its board, which includes former Great Britain athlete, World and European medallist Jennifer Meadows. The board is looking for a good balance of skills, geographic and demographic representation of the Yorkshire and Staffordshire communities it serves.

For further information on trustees, email:


Pete Burt, left, and Chris Derbyshire
Pete Burt, centre, on exercise cycle equipment at Chase Leisure centre
Gareth Cross, chair of IHL


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Last updated: 03 June 2021