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15 Jun 2022
UK Active names former NHS Confederation chief, Mike Farrar, as its new chair
By Frances Marcellin
UK Active names former NHS Confederation chief, Mike Farrar, as its new chair
Mike Farrar replaces Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as chair at UK Active
Photo: UK Active
Mike Farrar has been announced as the new chair at UK Active. His tenure will
start in August 2022 when he takes over the position from Tanni Grey-Thompson, following her six-year stint

“I'm honoured to be named the new chair of UK Active and cannot wait to get started in delivering on the ambitious plans I've seen to grow the sector’s impact and reach,” said Farrar.

“There is huge synergy and opportunity to develop our plans for supporting improvement in the nation’s health. Tanni has left a clear legacy as chair and I am passionate about continuing the work she has driven to create a more inclusive and representative sport and physical activity sector.”

Farrar comes from a leadership background within the NHS, having stepped down as chief executive at the NHS Confederation in 2013, while simultaneously serving as vice and interim chair of Sport England between 2009 to 2012. After setting up his own consultancy business, where he continued his work in advisory roles with the NHS, he took the position of chair at Swim England from 2015 to 2020.

In 2005, Farrar was awarded a CBE for services to the NHS and is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, and the University of Central Lancashire.

In the lead-up to London 2012, Farrar was selected as national tsar for sports and health, a role which centred around motivating people towards better health and lifestyle habits through engagement with sport and physical activity.

His appointment comes at a time when the physical activity industry and the national health agenda have become further entwined with UK Active working to reduce health inequalities by supporting the growth and impact of its 4,000 members.

“Equity of access to healthcare has been a key issue for me throughout my NHS career and I want to ensure that diversity and inclusion run through every layer of our sector, our organisation and our governance at UK Active,” said Farrar.

“UK Active’s members have an essential role to play, alongside the NHS, in the future of our population’s health and wellbeing. They are an integral element in our healthcare system, and I will be committed to realising that vision.”

Paralympic gold medallist Grey-Thompson – who holds over 35 world records and is also a trustee of the Commonwealth Sports Foundation – was recently appointed chair for Sport Wales. She announced that she would be handing over the reins of chair at UK Active last September.

“It has been a true privilege to serve as chair of UK Active for the past six years, and I'm so proud of the achievements of the UK Active team and our members during this time,” she said. “It is time for UK Active to begin a new chapter in its mission and I know Mike will be a great chair, supported by a brilliant board and team, bringing new expertise and energy as our sector prepares to take the next step in its evolution.”

Earlier this year, a new membership council was elected at UK Active comprising 14 members in leadership roles across the leisure industry. Dave Courteen, managing director of the Mosaic Spa and Health Club Group, is chair.

With this new membership council in place and a supplier council due to be announced soon, UK Active says the organisation is moving into a new chapter of governance in 2022.

“While this transition represents the end of an era, we're excited to learn from Mike’s leadership and to work with him on the huge opportunities for our sector that lie ahead,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active. “Mike has substantial experience across both the healthcare and sport sectors, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge that will help us fulfil our sector’s potential in improving the nation’s health.

He continued: “Tanni has been such an influential figure in the development and growth of UK Active, always there to represent our movement in every community and corner of our nation – from the gym floor to the Westminster corridor.”

Grey-Thompson will be attending UK Active’s forthcoming Active Uprising event, in Birmingham on 30 June, where she will be discussing her time as chair and sharing her hopes for the future of the leisure industry.

Tickets are available here: ukactive.com/active-uprising.

HCM is public affairs media partner of UK Active.

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