The awards are the most sought-after and respected accolades in the leisure and fitness industry

A host of leisure and fitness facilities across the country received nationwide recognition at the annual Ireland Active National Quality Standard Awards that were held virtually on March 03, 2021.

The MC for the awards was Oisin Langan, and he was joined by guests  Joe Cosgrove (Chairperson at Ireland Active), Karl Dunne (CEO of Ireland Active) and Maeve Buckley (Chairperson for the NQS Jury Panel).  We were  also delighted  to have reigning Irish featherweight professional boxing champion, former five-time Irish amateur boxing champion and double European bronze medallist, Eric Donovan for a Q&A session on the day.  

The National Quality Standard Awards (previously known as the White Flag Awards), have been in operation since 2001 and are the only industry specific award for the leisure, health and fitness sector in Ireland. They are the most sought-after and respected accolades in the industry and awards across the three levels of Outstanding (gold), Exceeded (silver) and Achieved (bronze).

This year, 74 facilities nationwide were awarded, with five facilities also awarded an ‘Overall Winner’ award in different categories, having been recognised for their remarkable high standards in safety, hygiene, customer engagement and human resources. 

WIT Arena, Co Waterford was awarded the Overall Winner of the Fitness Award category, with Gymplus Ballsbridge and K Leisure Newbridge (Kildare) also recognised on the shortlist for the award. Arena Health and Fitness Club in Dublin was awarded the Overall Winner Award for the Hotel Leisure category, with Tonic Health Club (Dublin) and Anner Hotel Leisure Centre (Tipperary) shortlisted in this category.

The Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre (Dublin) was announced as the Overall Winner of the Leisure Award category, with Newpark School Sports Centre (Dublin) and Tallaght Leisure Centre (Dublin) shortlisted. Expert Leisure in Dublin meanwhile was awarded the Supplier of the Year award, with Aqualine (Dublin) and McSport (Dublin) shortlisted for the honour. The Most Improved Facility Award was awarded to Sportslink (Dublin) while Leisure Complex at Lough Lannagh (Mayo) scooped the Best Newcomer Award.

Speaking about the awards, newly-appointed CEO of Ireland Active Karl Dunne stated: “We are delighted to be able to recognise so many fantastic facilities throughout Ireland today at our annual Ireland Active National Quality Standard Awards. Our members have faced a tough and difficult year over the past 12 months, and yet have continued to strive for excellence despite all the obstacles they have faced. We are delighted to see the fantastic work and dedication that has gone in behind the scenes, and we look forward to seeing this work showcased for all to see once facilities reopen once more.”

Also speaking about the awards, Chairperson of Ireland Active, Joe Cosgrove stated: “What these facilities have done during an extremely difficult and trying time is really exceptional. Their commitment and dedication to achieving and maintaining such high standards is truly remarkable, and we would like to congratulate all winners on their fantastic achievement.” 

The awards reward excellence for facilities in the sector that meet the operational standards across 250 quality-based criteria and are endorsed by Sport Ireland. Participants include local authority, private and hotel leisure facilities, and Ireland Active provides support for the awards in the area of standards, programmes, Garda Vetting and training. In 2019, Ireland Active established the first industry specific Skillnet to assist members in accessing discounted industry training.