QLM has been delivering exceptional service to leisure and hospitality operators across the UK for over 28 years. Our reputation as market leading providers of cost effective health and safety and quality management system solutions is unparalleled.
The following is a potted history of our journey and demonstrates why we are the leisure industry’s management consultancy of choice. We are grateful to a great number of individuals and leisure organisations who have assisted us on our journey:
QLM was formed in September 1990 by Peter Mills following the successful introduction of the first BS5750 (ISO9002) sport and recreation quality management system to the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon, where he was the General Manager.
Back then the leisure management consultancy industry was small. The introduction of compulsory competitive tendering to some extent drove the need for external advice. QLM has gone on to assisted over 70 leisure organisations to ISO9002 certification with a particular emphasis on providing service improvement through the use of the tool. There were many highlights, but one that stands out is working with the team at Cheltenham Racecourse to help the home of National Hunt racing to achieve certification.
The first BS5750 clients were LB Bexley (Riverside Pool in Erith) and Llanelli BC (Llanelli Leisure Centre). Both were assisted to achieve certification. Due to the demand, we employed our first consultant in 1991 to assist with quality system projects. The post was short lived as the consultant’s main client at the time went into administration. It would be some 5 years later that QLM would recruit another full-time consultant, when Steve Wood was appointed.
This was also the year that we conducted our first pool safety audit in Llanelli, which was our first health and safety paid assignment.
Expanding our focus
The ISO9002 work continued to pour in and former Thamesdown employee Bill Anderson became our lead sub-contractor and conducted many assignments for QLM. Bill continued to work with us on the development and assessment of the Quest scheme.
In 1993 the first ISRM risk assessment manual was published. This was developed in partnership with fellow safety specialist, the late Keith Sach. Indeed at this time Peter and Keith formed a new company The Safety Management Partnership Ltd. At the time, QLM was still trying to focus mainly on quality systems with health and safety channelled through the sister company. However this was short lived and Keith and Peter focussed on their respective businesses.
The ISRM (now CIMSPA) Risk assessment Manual has stood the test of time. To this day it is still a key reference document, including being a reference in EN15288 - Swimming Pools and has been used as a benchmark in a number of legal cases.
This was also the year we carried out a risk assessment for grounds maintenance, as a sister publication to the ISRM Risk Assessment Manual.
1993 also saw the start of the development of an industry quality standard scheme. The aim was to take the best of ISO9002, Investors in People and Chartermark schemes and produce a leisure specific one-stop award. QLM were closely involved (with Peter Mills the lead author) and the scheme became known as QUEST (the UK Quality Scheme for Sport and Leisure). This is now firmly established as a leading sport and leisure management award. QLM also managed the scheme from 1996-99 in partnership with Associated Quality Services Ltd.
Although Steve Wood joined QLM primarily to deliver the Quest contract, his expertise in quality management saw the QLM portfolio grow to include broader business excellence consultancy and Steve specialised in developing other quality accreditation schemes, including bereavement services, the QLM mystery visitor service and self-assessment training.
In 1995, QLM’s fist training Video pack - Effective Pool Supervision. This video training pack produced on behalf of ISRM was ground breaking in that it provided a powerful training resource for lifeguards. A revised training pack was issued in 2007 and a new version of the video was made in 2002 in partnership with ISRM and IQL in 2002.
The overwhelming success of an industry specific video training pack prompted the development of a twin video pack on health and safety Management in sport and leisure facilities. One video was focussed on health and safety principles e.g. chemical, electricity safety and the other on facility specific safety e.g. sports halls, fitness suites, sunbeds. The success of this publication prompted a follow up video- Leisure Health and Safety 2000.
The first QLM client health and safety newsletter was published in May 1997. It was produced in partnership with our good friend Paul Hackett of Top Lodge Leisure. This quarterly publication has become an established part of our client offering and Paul is back us via our sister company PHSC Limited. Amongst our first HS retained clients included Caerphilly Borough Council. By 2015 this client base has increased to over 80 organisations.
In 1998 Quality Customer Service in Sport and Recreation video training pack was published, led by Steve Wood. Steve also followed up with the ISRM video training pack on Best Practice Sports Development.
Peter was ISRM National President in 1999 - 2000 and has been actively involved in the development of publications and chairing committees. QLM has had a long established relationship with key industry bodies.
Strategic Leisure Ltd
For 2 years between 2000-2002, we were part of Strategic Leisure Ltd. We became independent again in 2002.
QLM has developed industry standards and publications with Peter Mills closely involved at the national level through the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (now CIMSPA), in particular. The team have contributed to many publications on a voluntary basis. These include Use of Play Equipment in Swimming Pools, The Operation of Giant Waterslides, Child Admission Policies and numerous information notes.
In the year 2000 QLM assisted in the development, management and administration of the RLSS/IQL Approved Training Centre Scheme. From its inception in 2000 until July 2012 we visited approximately 1,000 swimming pools a year to verify that the management of lifeguard training on behalf of the Royal Life Saving Society.
In 2001, QLM developed the ISRM/CIMSPA European Pool Safety Award on behalf of the industry, until 2014. The scheme provides for a best practice audit of swimming pool operation and a three-year award.
Introducing QLM Leisuresafe™
QLM expanded into broader leisure consultancy including strategic management and procurement. This was due to the appointment of Paul Cluett into the team from Parkwood Leisure, followed by Jill Franks. During this period QLM conducted a wide range of commercial advice projects.
In 2004 we developed with ILAM the Active Award a health and Physical Activity recognition programme, Cath Coombs and Lee Ross were among the coordinators of the programme, which ran until Scottish Government funding ran out in 2011. The project was overseen by the then QLM Director Paul Cluett who says: “Back in 2004, QLM were appointed by ILAM (as it was then) to run the Health and Physical Activity Accreditation Scheme. The purpose of the scheme was to accredit the work being carried out to link the endeavours of groups, Trusts, Local Authorities, Contractors and health providers to improving health through physical activity programmes.
We were fortunate enough to lead the programme and experienced numerous examples of where our sector made a real and significant difference to the lives of people, particularly those with serious health needs. Ranging from walking programmes in the Glasgow, to midnight soccer leagues on the south Coast and many really high quality schemes with collaborative working between sports providers and healthcare professionals, it was a privilege to see first-hand the difference our industry can make.”
Another key project we were involved in that year was the conducting of a feasibility study for Impulse Leisure on the installation of the Poseidon drowning detection system at two of their pools. The project identified (for the first time in the UK) that the installation could be self-financing through staff savings. We are still big supporters of the system, which we believe offers the very best in drowning detection technology.
In 2007, we launched our own certification scheme, QLM Leisuresafe™ as a vehicle to provide recognition to those leisure facilities who demonstrate a planned and proactive management of health and safety. The assessment scheme is going strong today with over 130 leisure centres in the scheme.
A subsidiary of PHSC Plc
One of our most significant and landmark projects involved working with the Time Capsule (Monklands) Trust in Coatbridge on the redevelopment of their Leisure Pool. The project involved identifying leading edge new attractions and providing a feasibility study to support a self-financing development. The project proved to be a great success, maintaining the Time Capsule as one of Scotland’s premier visitor attractions.
In 2009, we developed the final DVD training pack with ISRM - the Sports Equipment Set Up DVD Training Guide.
In November 2009 QLM achieved the Investors in Excellence standard, a derivative of Europe’s leading management framework the EFQM Excellence Model. This was a significant achievement and a demonstrable measure of our commitment to promoting and delivering excellence.
In January 2010, QLM became a subsidiary of PHSC Plc providing a wider range of health and safety services.
Publication of the Life Changing Event DVD training pack in partnership with RLSS. Followed in 2013 by Life Changing Event II.
Developing our portfolio
Over recent years we have established key partnerships to promote the installation of innovative solutions to enhance safety in leisure facilities, such as with Real Time Leisure to develop their Leisureshield product and with French company Poseidon Technologies to promote their drowning detection technology in the UK.
We have also established ourselves as the leading consultancy in expert witness cases and have now completed over 200 expert witness assignments.
Our quality management and health and safety portfolio of facilities and services advised and audited over the last 26 years include festivals, theatres, cemeteries, woodlands, pools, indoor and outdoor sports facilities (including national centres), holiday and home parks, hotels, hydrotherapy pools, grounds maintenance, schools, stadia, climbing centres, water fountains, gardens, cliff top walks, water towers, castles, parks and open spaces.