Flint Town’s Dementia Friendly Group Host Awards at Jade Jones Pavilion

Flint town’s Dementia Friendly Steering Group organised a Summer Challenge made up of 4 different activities – Cricket, Beach Volleyball, Pool and Bowls. These activities were organised especially for members of the Flint community who are living with Dementia. The final event of the Summer Challenge was Bowls which, along with an Awards Ceremony, took place at Jade Jones Pavilion on Friday 19th July.

Dementia Services Project Manager, Luke Pickering- Jones, said: “all those who took part thoroughly enjoyed the sports and activities, highlighting how Dementia does not take your abilities and competitiveness away from you. Our aim as a group in Flint is to tackle these misconceptions. All involved are looking forward to next year’s Summer Challenge where we plan on creating community teams and care home teams, all competing to win the Summer Challenge Shield”.

Lunch was provided for the 20 participants and carers on the day of the Bowls competition and Awards Ceremony. Each winning care home team was awarded a cup with Llys Raddington finishing as the overall winners of the league, taking home the Summer Challenge Shield for a 12 month period.

Dafydd Young, Leisure Attendant at Jade Jones Pavilion, shared his enthusiasm on behalf of Aura, saying: “I really enjoyed hosting the Summer Challenge event and would like to thank the organisers for choosing Jade Jones Pavilion to be the host of the Bowls competition and Awards Ceremony. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet people from the local community and to encourage them to take part in different activities that they may not usually participate in.”

Ceriann Ashton – Centre Development Officer for Jade Jones Pavilion – similarly shared her excitement about Jade Jones Pavilion’s involvement, saying: “I am proud to say that working alongside the Flint Town Dementia Steering Group has helped the Jade Jones Pavilion team achieve Dementia Friendly status for 2018/2019. This is a great achievement for us as we feel passionate about providing the local community with leisure opportunities that improve mental and physical well-being.”

To find out more, visit Flint Dementia Friendly Community on Facebook or call Luke Pickering- Jones 01352 752525.

Exciting News: Transformation and Refurbishment of Flint Library Commencing 16th September 2019!

Aura Wales, in partnership with Flintshire County Council, has announced plans to refurbish and transform Flint Library to make it a more flexible space to benefit the community. Aura Wales was recently delighted to secure £300,000 of funding for improvement works at Flint Library through a successful capital grant application to the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD). In addition to the £300,000, both Aura Wales and Flintshire Country Council will also contribute to the development, totalling £360,000 in new investment.

The work will commence on Monday 16th September with the newly refurbished library reopening to the community in January 2020. During the period of refurbishment a temporary library facility will be available in Jade Jones Pavilion to ensure that local residents are still able to access the valuable resources and activities that the library offers. The temporary library facility at Jade Jones Pavilion will be available during normal leisure centre opening hours and library staff will be on hand to help during normal library hours each day.

The transformation of Flint Library will include a community kitchen, a heritage exhibition area and space for a community garden. The current training rooms and main library will also be redesigned and transformed in order to create more flexible community spaces. By incorporating these changes, the development will provide a well-being hub, aiding us in achieving our purpose of helping the community through the provision of culture and leisure opportunities that improve mental health and physical well-being.

The library will be refurbished and modernised to include self-service machines and updated ICT and digital services. The development’s design will also highlight Aura’s commitment to becoming a Dementia Friendly organisation.

A current library user said “As a Flint resident, I am really excited about the new development at Flint Library. I use the Library regularly as it is and am especially looking forward to getting involved with the community garden”.

Flint Town Councillor Michelle Perfect, expressed her enthusiasm about the funding, saying: “This is a really positive development and much welcomed investment into Flint Library. This funding will make the library into a vibrant hub for the whole of the town and I look forward to seeing its potential being realised.”

Library Manager, Susannah Hill, similarly expressed her excitement about the development, commenting: “The library transformation will enable us to deliver our services in new ways and offer much more to the Flint community. The library will become a more modern and flexible space to explore stories and information and allow us to offer a variety of activities and events for everyone.”
The refurbishment of Flint Library represents an exciting new opportunity for Aura Leisure and Libraries Limited as we continue our mission as a not-for-profit organisation; ‘to benefit the community by improving quality of life through the provision of culture and leisure opportunities that improve mental health and physical well-being.”

During the refurbishment please remember you can use our library facilities in Broughton, Buckley, Connah’s Quay, Deeside, Holywell, Mold and also our Mobile Service as well as the service being offered from Jade Jones Pavilion.
You can also access our library service online 24 hours a day.
For more information please contact Susannah Hill 01352 704404 or Susannah.Hill@aura.wales

Toyota Sponsorship provides new gym equipment at Deeside Leisure Centre

Lindop Toyota, as part of an ongoing partnership with Aura Wales, has donated £500 to Deeside Leisure Centre in order to purchase additional exercise equipment. The equipment will benefit Aura’s National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) members, as well as those who attend Wellbeing fitness classes. The Wellbeing fitness classes cater for beginners, or those with health conditions, who want to become more active. There are a wide range of classes to choose from: all of which are taught by highly qualified and friendly instructors.

The new equipment includes dumbbells, back care cushions and heart rate monitors.

Alex Rea, Marketing Manager at Lindop Toyota, told us: “we are proud to support Aura Wales and I am pleased that our donation will benefit people in the local community. Earlier this year, we secured funding for Deeside Leisure Centre from the Toyota Fund for a Better Tomorrow, so it is great to meet with visitors to the centre and see the difference it is making to their lives.”

The Toyota AYGO and C-HR (pictured below) are available to customers through the Motability scheme. To find out more, please visit Lindop Toyota’s website.

Lee Breeze, Deeside Leisure Centre’s Development Officer, shared his gratitude to Lindop Toyota on behalf of Aura: “I would like to thank Lindop Toyota for their continued support and the additional equipment for our NERS programme. I’m delighted to see our partnership with Lindop Toyota go from strength to strength and look forward to working together on future projects”.

For more information about Aura Wellbeing fitness classes, please visit @wellbeingaura on Facebook, or contact Joanne Beevers, NERS Co-ordinator, on Joanne.Beevers@aura.wales or 01352704467.

Success for Aura Wales’ First ever Open Day!

On 20th July 2019, Aura Wales was delighted to host its very first Open Day at Deeside Leisure Centre with over 2,500 people attending.

Neil Williams, Finance and Commercial Manager, shared his thoughts about Aura’s first Open Day: “it was fantastic to see so many families visiting the centre and using the facilities which were free of charge for the day. Many of the different areas of Aura were involved in the day, coming together at Deeside Leisure Centre to demonstrate the numerous services Aura delivers for the community.”

The Open Day was packed full of different activities including free ice skating lessons, taster sessions and performances by various Deeside Leisure Centre based groups, free consultations and discounted packages provided by Afon Spa, taster fitness classes, crafts and Summer Reading Challenge activities hosted by the library, an opportunity to chat to members of the Aura Board and Senior Management Team, and a Dementia Friends Awareness session.

On the day, an Aura Football Charity Cup Tournament took place in order to raise money for a local charity, Homestart Flintshire. We are delighted to announce that over £600 has been donated to Homestart Flintshire as a result!

Lee Breeze, Centre Development Officer for Deeside Leisure Centre, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the whole Aura team, saying: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved in the organisation of the day, and especially to everyone who attended the open day to take part in the various activities. I would also like to thank all of the clubs that delivered sessions. Our aim for the day was to engage with the local community; it was great to see so many new people coming into the building.”

Huge turnout for first ParkLives event of the summer!

On the first Monday of the summer holidays, Aura’s Sports Development team hosted the first ParkLives event of summer 2019!

ParkLives is an initiative in partnership StreetGames and provides participants with the opportunity to access parks and public spaces in their local communities, through engaging in a variety of sports and wellbeing activities.

Daniel Williams, School and Community Sports Coordinator for Aura Wales, said: “this summer we are running sessions across 3 sites in Flintshire and are hoping to encourage families and young people to get out and use their open space locally.

Last year we had around 100 attend on our busiest day at Wepre Park, but on our opening day this year we had around 200 people attend! This was a great success and we hope the rest of the summer will be just as successful.”  

The activities are free of charge and include football, tennis, rugby, golf and more!

Please see the below photographs for more information about dates and times.

Waves of Well-being with Aura!

How Aura’s Adult Swim Classes are inspiring water confidence

The swimming pool at Buckley Leisure Centre is one of three managed by Aura Wales. 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).

James Wallace – or Jim as he is known to the Aura team – wanted to share his thoughts as one of the swimming instructors who takes the class. Here’s what he had to say:

“I was took on as a life guard 26 years ago and started doing the adult classes about two years ago. It’s 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; some of the participants are even going to be completing a 1 mile swim for charity here at Buckley Leisure Centre.”

With a big smile on his face, Jim relayed a story about one participant in particular who he helped learn to swim: “there was a lady who came who, at the time, was 82; she explained to me that learning to swim was on her bucket list. She learnt to swim here with us and we are so glad to have helped her achieve her goal; that’s one thing she can tick off the bucket list now!”

 Jim’s passion for teaching and desire to help people feel confident in themselves shines through; he explained how he wants to help people overcome their fear of the water: “in some cases, confidence is non-existent at the beginning: that’s one of the first things we try to conquer together. The first barrier to overcome is getting into the leisure centre. There is no pressure to learn straight away; the most important thing for me is to get them in the water and help them feel comfortable moving around.”

He spoke fondly about how rewarding he finds teaching, saying his favourite part is: “seeing their faces when they start to swim, or seeing them get to that point where they finally feel confident in themselves. Witnessing the moment they have the confidence to put their faces in the water is wonderful. There’s no turning back from there!”

“Some adults who cannot swim have a real fear of the water that has built up over a period of time. In some cases, something has happened in the past to scare them, resulting in a genuine fear of the water. That’s why we are so proud when we see them in the water, let alone swimming. It’s really something.”

“Some people attend the class to be able to swim when they go on holiday with children or grandchildren. It’s amazing how much some of them have progressed; some are even diving now and doing tumble turns. When they say to me “I can’t do that”, I just say “we’ll see”, and watch them progress and progress. If you don’t want to give it a go on the first time, that’s absolutely fine: just come and watch and see what you think. There is no pressure to get in the water or do anything you don’t want to do.”

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, they know all our names. Even though there is a group of us, Jim helps us individually. If anyone can teach you to swim its Jim: he’s marvellous”.

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

Well done to everyone who attends the classes and well done to Jim for inspiring us all!

Ysgol Gwynedd represents Wales at American Football Championships

In October 2018, Aura’s Sports Development team made contact with the National Football League (NFL) regarding the establishment of a Flag Football programme here in North Wales.

Soon after, teachers and students of local Flintshire schools were invited to attend an NFL course in February 2019 to give them more of an insight into Flag Football. The schools which took part were then able to sign up for the regional NFL festival where they received 20 tag belts and 15 footballs exclusively from the NFL. A 12 week programme was then delivered to the local schools.

In June 2019, the regional festival was hosted with 12 local primary schools taking part. All the children who attended showed great enthusiasm and played fantastically! The winning team was Ysgol Gwynedd who went on to compete in the National Championships held at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. The students travelled down to London, and took part in NFL activities with the other competing schools, before taking to the field!

On the day of the event, professional American Football player – Samson Ebukam – joined the students on the pitch to offer his encouragement during the games. Ysgol Gwynedd played amazingly, winning 3 games in the group stage as well as winning the quarter and semi-final games, finishing second overall in the final with just one point between them and the winning team. The school deserves huge recognition for representing Flintshire and all of Wales as the only Welsh team to compete.

William Broster, Sports Development officer, said: “my personal involvement so far has included bridging the gap between NFL and Flintshire schools, as well as helping to organise courses and venues for festivals. All of this has been done with the purpose of introducing primary students in Flintshire to a new and exciting sport.  Knowing that American Football is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, I personally knew there would be some interest within local schools, but I could not have imagined the amount of teachers and students on the courses: the whole experience has been incredible.”

Moving forward, Aura’s Sports Development team is keen to work alongside the Chester Romans American Football Team to set up a club at Deeside Leisure Centre for the benefit of children in the community who have enjoyed the programme. It is Aura’s hope to increase the number of schools taking part in the regional festival, together with number of teachers/coaches who are trained within Flintshire.

Well done to Aura’s Sports Development team for all their hard work and determination to get local schools involved in this new and exciting sport, and huge congratulations to Ysgol Gwynedd on their fantastic achievement!

New 3G Pitch coming to Flint High ready for the new season!

We are excited to announce that the Artificial Turf Pitch at Flint High School is being upgraded this summer into a state of the art 3G surface!

Works are being undertaken by Flintshire County Council, in partnership with Aura Wales and Flint High School, to transform the Artificial Turf Pitch into a 3G surface.

Flint High School shared its enthusiasm about the prospect of benefiting the community, saying: “Not only will this pitch provide improved playing conditions for the PE Curriculum and partner sporting programmes, but will be a massive asset to the community, further strengthening our commitment to providing educational and sporting facilities that benefit not only the students but the whole community.”

The community use of the facility will be managed by Aura with the aim to create exciting new leisure opportunities for the Flintshire community.  

Mike Welch, Aura’s managing director, said: “as a former pupil of Flint High School, this is an exciting development which will greatly enhance the local provision; I’m sure it will prove to be very popular.”

The commencement date for the works is 22nd July, with a completion date scheduled for 30th August.

Cllr Ian Roberts shared his support, commenting: “I hope the upgrade to Flint High School’s Artificial Turf Pitch will have a huge benefit on all who use it and encourage our local community to make use of the leisure facilities we have on offer here in Flintshire.”

Demand is expected to be very high for the hire of the new 3G pitch; to ensure you don’t miss out, book a football pitch ready for next season by contacting either Jade Jones Pavilion Flint on 01352 704301, or Aura’s Head Office on 01352 702437.

Dementia Friendly Swimming Session at Mold Leisure Centre

Aura Wales will be hosting a Dementia Friendly Swimming session at Mold Leisure Centre on 19th August 2019 from 9.30-11.00am.

As an organisation, we are working towards becoming Dementia Friendly and hope the introduction of Dementia Friendly Swimming sessions will help to support anyone in the community living with or affected by Dementia.

We spoke to Steven McFadyen – a representative of the Alzheimer’s Society – who said: “we’re delighted that Mold Leisure Centre has chosen to trial Dementia Friendly swimming events. Physical activity can allow people with Dementia to connect with other people, have fun and stay healthy. 

For the sport and physical activity sector, becoming more Dementia Friendly means providing opportunities to support every person affected by Dementia, including carers and family members. We need to make sure people involved in the running of swimming pools and other activities are aware of the impact of Dementia and how they can support people in their community. We’ve seen how improving access to activities like swimming can have a hugely positive impact. We hope more leisure centres will support people with Dementia to continue to do the things they enjoy for as long as possible.”

It is our hope that the session will demonstrate all the benefits of swimming and the mental and physical well-being it can encourage. Swimming can help to:

  • Offer a sense of mental wellbeing
  • Soothe the mind and reduce anxiety
  • Relax the body by supporting it in a relatively weightless environment
  • Offer opportunities to socialise
  • Reduce loneliness and contribute to creating a sense of place.

Wesley Billings, Swimming Coordinator at Mold Leisure Centre, expressed his enthusiasm on behalf of Aura Wales, stating: “we would like to support people living with Dementia in the community so that they can continue to be comfortable taking part in an activity they enjoy. We hope this session will become a more regular slot in our swimming pool programme and increase links with Dementia groups across all Aura leisure centres.”

If you would like more information about the Dementia Friendly Swimming Session, please contact Wesley Billings on 01352 704343 / wes.billings@aura.wales , Jo Lane on Jo.Lane@alzheimers.org.uk / 01352 700486, or Luke Pickering on 01352 752525 / luke@newcis.org.uk


A World Cup win for Wales Walking Football!

Over the last 12 months, the first ever Wales Walking Football Team has been established and it could not have gotten off to a better start! The team – made up of players from across Wales – has already received world champion status!

We are delighted to say that some of the team members included in the national team are regular users of Deeside Leisure Centre.

The team recently competed in the International Walking Football Federation (IWFF) World Cup where they reached the final, hosted in London. After finishing every game unbeaten against Australia, Spain, France and England, the team was crowned 2019 winners!

Peter Hazeldine, who played in the World Cup and regularly plays at Deeside Leisure Centre, said: “the great thing about playing for Wales and Deeside Leisure Centre has always been the friendships I’ve developed. This was never more apparent than when Wales won the IWFF World Cup. Without that bond of camaraderie and unity we would never have won it. We played as a squad, and won as a squad.”

The team received well wishes from sports star Shane Williams as well as singer Gruffydd Wyn who both sent videos to the team to wish them luck for the final!

Lee Breeze – Centre Development Officer for Deeside Leisure Centre, as well as joint manager of Wales Walking Football over 60s team – expressed his enthusiasm about the team’s amazing accomplishment, saying: “to see how Walking Football is developing across Wales is a real delight. Winning the IWFF World Cup is a testament to all the hard work that goes in, both on and off the pitch, and not just to those that took part during the World Cup but to everyone involved in the journey so far.

To be a part of something historic and to see the friendships and bonds that are being made by people across Wales is something I’m very proud to be a part of: long may it continue.”

Aura Wales would like to congratulate the team on their fantastic success and wish them all the best for the future.

Walking Football sessions are held at Deeside Leisure Centre every Tuesday 2.30-3.30pm and at Mold Leisure Centre every Saturday 11.00am-12.00pm.