Get to know your Aura Librarians!

To finish #LibrariesWeek 2019, we spoke to some of our wonderful Aura librarians about their roles within the libraries and what they enjoy most about being a part of the Aura team.

This year’s theme for Libraries Week has been the role of libraries in the digital world. Click here to discover our online library catalogue, stocked full of reading materials and various e-resources.

Here is what our librarians had to say:

David Grieve:

Hello! I’m David and I run the Mobile Library service for Aura. The Mobile Library runs on a three weekly cycle: two weeks visiting small towns, villages and communities around the county, and a third week visiting schools and a couple of care homes. One of the things I enjoy most about my role is meeting people in the community who really appreciate the service that is offered: people who might not find it so easy to get to a static library and, to a certain extent, rely on the mobile service. It becomes a social activity and I feel that the community aspect is really important. It’s an opportunity for people to get out of the house, even if it’s only a few yards down the road.

One book I’m looking forward to reading is ‘Quichotte’ by Salman Rushdie; I’m a big fan of his works. Right now I’m reading ‘Once Upon a River’ by Diane Setterfield, I would certainly recommend it!

Liz Gilligan:

Hello! I’m Liz, I’m a library assistant based at Flint Library and I love my job! My favourite thing about my role is being a part of a team. Our libraries are not just individual branches, we work as a whole team as Aura Libraries. I love seeing the library grow and enjoy working at different branches. I really enjoy Rhymetime every week and have been able to incorporate Makaton which I am so excited about. I look forward to our “Chat About” monthly sessions at Flint Library where members of the community come to the library and talk about anything and everything. We have wonderful conversations, it’s a great supportive group.

My book recommendation would be ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ by Gill Simms. When I first read it I sat on the sofa and cried laughing. I would also recommend Claire Mackintosh and Paula Daily’s books.

Theo Chaddock:

Hello, I’m Theo, I’m a library assistant at Connah’s Quay Library. As a team, we try our best to create a good atmosphere in the library; everyone is so positive and upbeat. It’s great when people come in and experience that friendly atmosphere – I enjoy being a good part of someone’s day. On a weekly basis I run the “Learn my Way” IT course for beginners. I enjoy seeing people improve after just a few hours using the computer; it becomes such an important new skill for them. Seeing their confidence grow is amazing. The fact that we can offer that service for free is excellent and encourages people to think more positively about the impact of libraries in the community.

I would recommend Karl Pilkington’s travel books for some unique insights on the world.

Thank you to David, Liz and Theo for sharing their thoughts.

To contact your local library or to view the Mobile Library schedule, click here.

Adult Swim Class raises £750 for the British Heart Foundation

An adult swimming class at Buckley Leisure Centre has raised an amazing £750 for the British Heart Foundation. The participants completed a sponsored 1 mile swim on Saturday 31August 2019, with the help of swimming instructors Jim Wallace and Nathan Cain.

Paul Howells, one of the participants, explained: “The more advanced swimmers completed a full mile (64 lengths) with other swimmers completing various distances depending on their own individual ability. Many of the swimmers who took part were unable to swim more than a few strokes 12 months ago, with some unable to swim at all, so this is a massive achievement for us.”

Swimming Instructor Jim Wallace, explained: “The swimming classes are aimed at adults of all ages who either cannot swim at all or would like to improve. Those who attend are fantastic and have progressed so much.”

He also expressed his enthusiasm about the sponsored swim, saying: “It’s their achievement, they’ve pushed themselves and should be very proud. They all set themselves targets and surpassed their goals – I am really proud.”

One participant expressed her gratitude to Jim, saying: “I was petrified and had no confidence, now I’m full of confidence. Everyone is so supportive, from the reception to the instructors.”

Another said: “We all encourage each other. We couldn’t swim a width or length but now there’s no stopping us!”

The swimming pool at Buckley Leisure Centre is one of three managed by Aura Leisure and Libraries. Catering for beginners, as well as those who wish to improve their technique, the adult swimming classes at Buckley aim to encourage water confidence and to support anyone seeking well-being through swimming. The classes run on Tuesday 10.00-11.00am, Thursday 8.30-9.00pm, and Sunday 10.30-11.15am (advanced) and 11.15am-12.00pm (beginner).

The whole Aura team would like to congratulate Jim and the Adult Swim Class on their fantastic achievement and would like to thank everyone who very kindly donated towards the sponsored swim – well done and thank you to all! 

Celebrating Inspirational Members: Robert’s Story

Aura recently received the following message from one of our gym users, Robert, a local resident of Flint. Here is what he said:

“The staff at the Jade Jones Pavilion have changed the way I look at my life. Just over 3 year ago I was over 19 stone and with the encouragement and guidance of the staff at the gym and in the classes, I have reduced my heart rate and my weight is now 13 and a half stone. Big shout out to Lesley, Lee, Hayley, David, Sam, Matty and all the staff: you’ve all helped to change my life for the better.

Robert very kindly met with us and explained how his fitness journey with Aura began, saying: “when I started off, I was about 19 and a half stone. At first, I just wanted to come to the gym and do my own thing, the instructors are happy to let you do that. When you feel like you’re ready, you can approach them, they can give you a programme if that is what you’d like and help you.

I started by using the treadmill, slowly, then every fortnight I would try and go up a level on the incline. The instructors then encouraged me to try other pieces of equipment.”

He explained: “I have had a heart problem in the past but my heart rate is a lot better due to the exercise I’m doing. I changed my diet also, I was doing things I didn’t realise were wrong – I didn’t know what carbohydrates or proteins were – it wasn’t something I was ever taught.”

Robert very kindly praised the team at the leisure centre, commenting on their contribution to his fitness journey to date, stating: “the team here have always got a kind word to say and a big smile. They know me by name and always say hello. It’s not just about fitness, it’s about meeting new people. It’s about fitness for your body and mind. For me, the mental side of it is just as important if not more important. Half an hour of exercise is enough time to bring your endorphins up and help you to feel happy.”

Throughout our chat, Robert very modestly placed emphasis on the team at the leisure centre, as opposed to taking credit for his amazing achievement of losing 6 stone in under three years. Through sharing his story, we wish to recognise and praise Robert’s accomplishment: the hard work has ultimately come from him.

The whole Aura team would like to congratulate Robert on his positivity and commitment to well-being– he is an inspiration to us all.

Aura raises over £1,300 for Macmillan Cancer Support!

We are delighted to announce that Aura Leisure and Libraries raised a grand total of £1339.78 for Macmillan Cancer Support on Friday 27th September 2019.

Aura was proud to take part in Macmillan’s Biggest Coffee Morning and hosted coffee mornings across its leisure and library sites at Deeside Leisure Centre, Jade Jones Pavilion Flint, Buckley Leisure Centre, Holywell Library, Connah’s Quay Library and Mold Library.

Carrie Bell, a member of the Aura team that helped organise the event, expressed her gratitude to everyone who participated and said: “we had an amazing day and raised a fabulous amount of money for Macmillan, with fantastic support from Team Aura! I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved. Team work across the six sites helped the day to be so successful. I am truly blown away by the amount we raised.”

The whole Aura team would like to thank everyone who attended our leisure and library sites on the day; we had a wonderful time and hope you did too!

Aura Wales: Social Business Wales Award winners 2019!

Aura Wales has been named Social Enterprise of the Year and winner of the Consumer Facing Social Enterprise award!

On 24th September, members of the Aura team attended the Social Business Wales Awards 2019 hosted at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

Aura had been one of the three finalists for the award of ‘Consumer Facing Social Enterprise’ and, upon winning the award, was automatically put forward for the headline category of ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ which we are proud to say we subsequently won!

Within Aura, we have a unique and fantastic opportunity to determine our own destiny as an employee owned company. We operate for the benefit of our local community through the provision of culture, sport and leisure opportunities that improve mental health and physical well-being. In the last year, £2.4 million has been invested into Aura’s leisure centres in Mold and Flint, with over 1.5 million customer visits recorded across its leisure centres and libraries. 

The judging panel heralded Aura as “a great example of how a social enterprise can keep valuable services running for the benefit of local communities”, and expressed the hope that other social businesses can learn from Aura in the future.

Libraries Development Manager, Kate Leonard, described her excitement about attending the Awards ceremony, and what it felt like hearing Aura’s name announced: “I’m so delighted that Aura’s achievements have been recognised nationally in this way. Everyone has worked so hard to get us to where we are today. To be honest, just attending and being part of the awards for the first time was an amazing experience for us all. Hearing our name read out – not just once, but twice! – was out of this world. I feel truly privileged to be a part of the team that made it possible. Go Aura!”

Aura will try to maintain its winning momentum at the upcoming UK Social Enterprise Awards to be held at London’s Guildhall on 4th December.  Aura has, once again, received a nomination in the category of ‘Consumer Facing Social Enterprise’. 

Little Paddlers by Aura!

We are excited to announce the launch of a new swimming lesson programme created and developed by Aura!

Little Paddlers by Aura – born out of the success of our Adult and Child swimming sessions at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint – is a swimming lesson programme designed especially for babies and toddlers up to 3 years. The programme follows a scheme of work recently developed by Swim Wales to help develop fundamental movement and core skills in an aquatic environment.

Our experienced and qualified swimming instructors and lifeguards will be on hand to help you and your baby along the way. Sophie, our specialised swimming teacher said: “I thoroughly enjoy teaching on the course; I am so grateful to be able to join these children on their swimming journey and can’t wait to see them progress into confident, happy swimmers.” 

Here are some of the benefits of this new and exciting scheme:

  • Confidence: a chance for your child to gain confidence in a social, relaxed environment
  • New Skills: an opportunity for both you and your baby to learn new skills in the water
  • Health and Wellbeing: swimming can help to stimulate your baby’s cognitive development and exercise the heart, lungs and muscles. It can also help to improve sleeping patterns, appetites and behaviours
  • Fun! Little Paddlers by Aura offers a great chance for you to enjoy the water together and make precious memories.

Ceriann Ashton, Centre Development Officer at Jade Jones Pavilion Flint, shared her excitement about the new scheme, saying: “I have thoroughly enjoyed developing the Little Paddlers by Aura swimming programme and have been delighted by the amount of interest it has received so far. Little Paddlers by Aura will support our successful Learn to Swim programme, allowing us to continue providing good quality, affordable swimming lessons for our local community.

I hope the programme’s initial success will continue and expand to all swimming pools operated by Aura; I am very much looking forward to welcoming all our new little paddlers!”

One parent commented, “the first session was great! My 2 year old and I loved it. The teacher got to know each child individually and worked on their strengths; I can’t wait for next week’s lesson!”

In 2018, Jade Jones Pavilion Flint underwent a £936k development, including a refurbishment of the existing swimming pool wet changing rooms, and an increased poolside spectator viewing gallery. Jordan Mapp-Jones, a Supervisor at Jade Jones Pavilion, commented: “the new changing village has modernised our swimming pool facilities with a variety of cubicles to suit our customers’ needs.”

We hope that both the newly refurbished changing facilities combined with the pool spectator area will have a positive impact on those attending Little Paddlers by Aura, helping to ensure a more enjoyable experience.

For more information regarding Little Paddlers by Aura, please contact:  littlepaddlers@aura.wales

Facebook: @littlepaddlersbyaura 

Instagram: littlepaddlersbyaura

Changes to the Free Swimming Initiative

Following an independent review conducted on behalf of Welsh Government, changes will be implemented this autumn to the Free Swimming Initiative.

Flintshire County Council has worked with Sport Wales and Swim Wales to develop a county offer that meets the needs of the new objectives set out by Welsh Government.

Current free swimming sessions will remain throughout September with all changes to sessions taking effect from 1 October 2019.

Changes to timetables and access to sessions under the Free Swimming Initiative will be clearly communicated to customers by Flintshire’s five swimming pools over the coming weeks.

Free sessions for Over 60s have been confirmed at each of the sites and they will be available each week on the following days:

Cambrian Aquatics – Monday (10am – 11am)
Buckley – Tuesday (12pm – 1pm)
Holywell Leisure Centre – Thursday (8.15am – 9.30am)
Jade Jones Pavilion – Friday (9am – 10am)
Mold Sports Centre – Saturday (12pm – 1pm).

In addition to the free sessions, a subsidised membership will be available through Aura Leisure and Libraries, Cambrian Aquatics and Holywell Leisure Centre which will allow access to all public sessions throughout the year. Further details of these offers will be available on the three organisations’ websites or at your local pool.

Free sessions for under 16s will be focussed around targeted splash sessions and lessons and this offer will be developed over the coming months to target those who currently face significant barriers to accessing their local pool.

Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Ian Roberts, said:

“The free swimming Initiative has enabled Flintshire residents to access our swimming pools which, for some, may have not been possible without the scheme and we are working with our local swimming pools to minimise the impact to current and future participants. Swimming can have a number of health benefits for individuals and communities and our aim is to continue to make swimming accessible.”

If you have further queries regarding the free swimming sessions please contact your local swimming pool:

Buckley Leisure Centre, 01352 704290/704291; Jade Jones Pavilion, 01352 704301; Mold Leisure Centre, 01352 704330; Cambrian Aquatics, 01244 956595; Holywell Leisure Centre, 01352 355100.

Coffee and Cake with Aura in Support of Macmillan Cancer Support!

We are excited to announce Aura’s involvement in Macmillan’s Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 27th September 2019!

Join us for Coffee and Cake with Aura across a number of our leisure centres and libraries:

Deeside Leisure Centre: 9.00am-5.00pm

Buckley Leisure Centre: 9.00am-5.00pm

Jade Jones Pavilion: 9.00am -1.00pm

Mold Library: 9.00am-1.00pm

Connah’s Quay Library: 9.00am-1.00pm

Holywell Library: 10.00am-1.00pm

Don’t miss your chance to take home one of our amazing raffle prizes including: two for one tickets for Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 2 x 60 minute Jump Passes for Freedome in Cheshire Oak’s, 4 x 1 round of tickets for Paradise Island Adventure Golf, PLUS an extra special Aura Wales Hamper! (and that’s just to name a few!)

Come on in and take a seat,

Enjoy a cuppa and sweet treat!

If you would like further information, please contact: carrie.bell@aura.wales / 01352 702483

Aura Football Instructors “should be proud of themselves” for Encouraging Children to Get Active

The Aura team was recently delighted to receive an email from Isil Haywood, a local parent whose son Thomas has been attending an Aura Football Camp based at Mold Leisure Centre this summer.

She explained: “we recently moved to Gwernymynydd from Ruthin, and our very first experience at Mold Leisure Centre has been a very positive one.

Thomas is 11 and has attended a football club in the past, however, he was not very happy and his confidence in football was getting very low; he dropped out in the end.  I wanted to write you this email because I am extremely grateful to the instructors at Mold Leisure Centre, especially Dylan, who has been very helpful and made Thomas love football again after a long time.”

Mrs Haywood very kindly expressed her thanks to Dylan, saying: “he is very friendly, always smiling and professional; he is excellent with children. I thought I should let the centre know what a great job the young instructors are doing, and that they should be proud of themselves.

It has been a challenge to get my son off the Xbox and to do some sports instead. Thanks to Dylan and the team, Thomas has been very keen to spend as much time as possible playing football at the Leisure Centre.”

Upon reading the email, Dylan, the instructor mentioned above, expressed his thanks and further commented: “it’s great to receive such positive feedback from parents and to hear that the children are enjoying the sessions.”

Aura Leisure and Libraries would like to thank Mrs Haywood for taking the time to write to us and hope that Thomas – along with all the children who attend Aura Football Camps – will continue to enjoy keeping active and enjoy any time spent at Aura Leisure Centres.

Aura Leisure and Libraries named finalist in UK Social Enterprise Awards!

Aura Leisure & Libraries has been named a finalist in the UK Social Enterprise Awards, recognising businesses which are changing the world.

We are delighted to announce that Aura has been named a finalist in the ‘Consumer Facing Social Enterprise’ category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards!

The UK Social Enterprise Awards run by Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for social enterprises, recognise the nation’s most pioneering social enterprises.  Aura will be joining other shortlisted organisations at the prestigious awards ceremony held at London’s iconic Guildhall on 4 December.

Commenting on being shortlisted, Paul Jones, Aura’s Business Improvement & Performance Manager, said: ‘’Aura is thrilled to be shortlisted in the category of Best Consumer Facing Social Enterprise at the upcoming UK Social Enterprise Awards.  The company has only been trading since September 2017 so to be recognised on a national scale for the work we do in sustaining and improving leisure, library and heritage services in Flintshire is fantastic and gives us huge encouragement for the future.’’

There are 100,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £60 billion to the UK economy, each one being set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face from homelessness to climate change. Previous winners have included a coffee company set up to create jobs for people who are homeless, an employee-owned community health care provider and a company set up to tackle funeral poverty.

Commenting on the Awards, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, Peter Holbrook, said: “Every year the standard of applications for the UK Social Enterprise Awards gets higher and higher. At a time when public confidence in business is at a low and when we are facing crises – both political and environmental – this year’s shortlist shows how business can be used to build a better world.”

For more information, please contact Francesca Sciarrillo on 01352 702435 or via email at
francesca.sciarrillo@aura.wales