On Wednesday 29th June Aspire's InstructAbility scheme, funded by Sport England, won a national industry award at ukactive's prestigious 2016 Matrix Flame Awards.

InstructAbility received an Outstanding Achievement award for ‘Healthy Partnerships’ to recognise the work between spinal injury charity Aspire, training provider YMCAfit and the hundreds of leisure operators who have enabled disabled people to start careers as fitness professionals.

With the financial support of employers and sponsorship from Matrix Fitness, eight InstructAbility graduates were able to attend the event and it was a very proud moment to see them up on stage to receive the award from ukactive Chair, Tanni Grey Thompson (pictured). The graduates represented everyone involved in the project at Aspire and YMCAfit, the industry placement providers, employers and the many other InstructAbility graduates who are doing some fantastic work across the sector. It was a first for ukactive, to have four wheelchair users and three amputees on stage at this event – their presence in the industry continues to break down barriers!

  • Craig Thompson, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Centre, GLL.
  • Lizzy Manvell-Pavlitski, Fusion Lifestyle.
  • Marc Pitman, Felixstowe Leisure Centre, Places for People.
  • Rick Long, Bourne Leisure Centre, 1Life.
  • Lee Patmore, Brentwood Leisure Centre, BLT.
  • Gary Puddifoot, Stratford Leisure Centre, Everyone Active.
  • Stephen Birkby, DAWS Community Gym in partnership with SIV.
  • Wendy Hall, Portway Lifestyle Centre, Sandwell Leisure Trust.


InstructAbility won the Flame Matrix Award ‘Spark of Innovation’ back in 2012 when the project was first developed and the scheme has since grown into a national programme. Instructor Lee Patmore from Brentwood Leisure Centre, who took part in the award panel presentation, says,

“The programme really does change lives. I was discharged from the Navy due to a worsening back condition which resulted in me using a wheelchair. I spent many subsequent years unable to find work and feeling low. InstructAbility and its partnership with Help for Heroes changed all that. Now, I am not only more active than I have ever been in my life, but in my professional role as Inclusive Co-ordinator at Brentwood Leisure, I am able to encourage others to overcome their own personal hurdles to enjoy fitness - you just can't beat it!”

Sponsors Matrix Fitness said,

“At Matrix Fitness, we understand that inclusivity is fundamental to individuals exceeding their expectations and challenges both personal and professional. InstructAbility is a fantastic programme that gives disabled people access to the training required to work in the fitness industry; and Matrix is keen to champion this. Everyone should be able to deliver excellence"

“We are delighted to sponsor the graduates and support the InstructAbility scheme"