Our team

Salford Community Leisure employs a team of over 500 employees located across all our venues.

Stephen Hassall, the Chief Executive

Stephen Hassall, the Chief ExecutiveSteve is our senior executive and is responsible for the development of the organisation and the effective and efficient running of all portfolio. Salford born with 26 years experience in the leisure industry, he has led the organisation since its inception in 2003.

With wide experience in managing leisure and cultural services at both neighbourhood and strategic level, Steve has also managed services for young people and family support across two local authorities. His academic background is in Economic and Social History involving research into the local history of Salford and he has a management qualification from the Co-op College.

Steve was instrumental in developing numerous nationally acclaimed leisure schemes such as the country’s first GP Referral Scheme, the ground breaking multi cultural Pathways project and the Moving Up for Leisure project for young people involved or at risk or being involved in crime.

He has been on numerous national working groups looking at the role of sport in diverting young people from crime, and has spoken at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on this subject. More recently, Steve has been part of a number of national groups and case studies looking at the role of mutuals and co-operatives in the public sector.

Ray Higson, Head of Finance

Ray Higson, Head of FinanceWith 34 years experience in finance, Ray is responsible for Finance and Support services at Salford Community Leisure and is an Executive Director on the Board.

With a background in auditing and accountancy, initially with the local authority, Ray was part of the project team that helped create the Society in 2003. He takes a lead role for the organisation to ensure there are adequate financial resources to maintain and enhance high quality services in a challenging financial climate. Maintaining robust financial controls, he also assesses the financial viability of new opportunities that support organisation and partner objectives.

Ray also provides a supportive management role for company IT and administrative services. Contributing to the wider community, he also provides financial advice and independent review and audit of accounts for a number of voluntary groups including Friends of the Salford Museums’ Association and North West Health and Physical Activity Forum.

Mark Chew, Head of Sport and Leisure

Mark Chew, Head of Sport and LeisureMark has considerable experience of Sport and Leisure Management having spent over 20 years working in the industry. He has held a number of operational and management positions with Salford City Council and Salford Community Leisure and was head of the sports development team when it was awarded one of the countries highest Quest scores of 90%.

Mark is responsible for the management of Sport and Leisure facilities and services in the East of the City. In addition he has overall strategic lead for sports development and health initiatives and has corporate responsibility for asset management.

Mark is passionate about the promotion and development of sporting  opportunities for the residents of Salford and as an ex International swimmer understands and appreciates the power and value sport and physical activity can have in shaping the lives of young people.

Garry Bateman, Head of Sport and Leisure

Garry Bateman, Head of Sport and LeisureWith over 30 years experience working in the area of sport and leisure in Salford, Garry started his career after graduating in Physiology and Human Movement from The University of Salford.  His first appointment as Duty Manager gave him the perfect springboard to progress onto further roles in Sports Development, Facility Management, Area Management and Operational Management all culminating in Garry’s vast knowledge and experience within the sport and leisure industry. 

He has a genuine appreciation of how vital it is for the success of a modern leisure business to be led by the needs of the customer and this is something Garry has felt passionate about since his early days in leisure management.  Garry was instrumental in the development of health and fitness in Salford, which resulted in the emergence of state of the art fitness suites in all of the leisure centres.

To compliment his knowledge and experience, Garry has attained a number of industry recognised qualifications; including an ILAM Certificate, an Advanced Certificate in Recreation Management (part of the Modular Masters Programme) from the University of Salford and a Diploma in Business Administration from Manchester Business School.

Sarah Spence, Head of Libraries and Heritage

Sarah Spence, Head of Libraries and Information ServicesA qualified librarian, Sarah has more than 30 years experience in a range of roles. Sarah specialised in services to children and young people before becoming Head of Salford Library and Information Service in 1998, and was chair of Youth Libraries Group North West and a member of the National Youth Libraries group.

Throughout her career, she has been integral in the evolution of libraries and as such is focused on delivering a library service for the 21st century - radically developing the offer to meet the changing needs of customers. Sarah was a member of the partnership groups responsible for the design, development and implementation of the Gateway buildings (partnership between Salford City Council and the Primary Care Trust) and more recently Broughton Hub.

Responsible for strategic development and day to day management, Sarah leads a team of around 150 staff working in libraries, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Salford Local History Library and Ordsall Hall. She also manages specialist teams in areas such as learning, stock management, exhibitions, collections and arts development.

Richard Milton, Head of Music and Performing Arts Service

Richard Milton, Head of Music and Performing Arts ServiceRichard has been the head of Salford Music and Performing Arts Service (MAPAS) since 2001 and before that had a successful career as a secondary school music teacher.

A strong believer in partnerships Richard has worked with many organisations across the country to further the development of music education. This has included extensive work with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra in Manchester.

A graduate of Salford University, Richard has forged links with the university and MAPAS. These partnerships have helped develop the greater Manchester music hub, the largest music education hub in the country which is at the cutting edge of music education development.

The senior management team also consists of:

  • Samantha Sandford, Corporate Strategy and Communications Manager
  • Rob Sides, Management Accountant
  • Kelly Harris, ICT Corporate Manager