Seasons Greetings from STA’s President

2023 seems to have gone by in a flash – it only seems two minutes ago when I was writing last year’s Christmas message. I’ve cheated a little this year and repeated some of the speech I gave at the conference however the messages are important.

The STA is a national governing body that continues to grow when others are struggling. Why is that? Ask yourself why you chose to join the STA? Ask yourself why you stay? We all have our reasons, but I truly believe that we all agree on one thing – the unwavering support we receive from an organisation focussed on its members. A national governing body with integrity as its foundation, and compassion for members and their real-life situations. A national governing body that has still not raised its membership fee in seven years!

STA has also continued to keep its training costs low – this isn’t because the courses are not of the same standard as other governing bodies, as we all know that a course recognised by CIMSPA and on the national framework has to go through rigorous checks. The reason the courses are economical is down to the STA operating as a charity should – it does not make huge profits on a course and certainly not at a member’s expense.

There have been many initiatives this year to support members. The STAmp out VAT campaign which was launched at the end of last year raised awareness of the issues facing swim schools, the rising costs of utility bills and the importance of making learn to swim accessible to all. It was another campaign which saw the STA speak out for members because it truly believes in them. Whilst VAT hasn’t been stamped out yet, they continue to fight the cause on your behalf.

After the success of STAnd up for Swimming where more than 900 swimming teachers were trained for free, of which two-thirds were new to the leisure industry and 86% of the 900 trained gained employment, the STA launched STArlight, shining a light on disability swimming, to upskill swimming teachers, for free, to train as disability swimming teachers.

More support then came in March when Jobs for Leisure was launched – a free digital jobs advertisement board for the leisure industry. Not STA bias, or specific to STA qualifications, the platform was launched to support the entire leisure industry. Placing job adverts can be expensive as we all know so the launch of Jobs in Leisure was welcomed by members.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve also seen countless new partnerships created (including with PAW Patrol, Baby Shark and SpongeBob Square Pants), new Swim Star Swim Schools awarded, free training offered, and the continuation of support for ATCs, members, and the leisure industry in general. Plus, in May, it was a record year for STA’s annual awareness campaign, International Learn to Swim Week, which saw half a million children involved across 40 countries.

A successful conference in October with the highest number of attendees, excellent speakers, opportunities for networking…and maybe a drink or two! I know the team are already busy planning the 2024 conference and the guest speaker, Professor Greg Whyte OBE, has already been announced. Don’t forget to get your tickets when they are released in the new year.

2023 ended with some FAB news – the STA won the Innovation of the Year Award for the STAnd up for Swimming campaign at the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) Awards, a true testament of the charitable commitment the STA pledged and carried out.

I look forward to the “Ali….I have an idea…..” phone calls from Dave Candler in 2024 – you just know they are not only going to be big but they are always going to be about the members. This is a national governing body I’m proud to be involved in. I may be the President, but I am also a member and every time I renew my membership (yes, I still pay for it!), I know it is worth every penny.

So, it leaves me to say a huge thank you to fellow Trustees for their support: Dave Lewis, Joanne Bradshaw, Anita Sharma and Dana Wells. To Mike Walters who resigned as Trustee this year after seven years – thank you for all your support – we will struggle to find someone to fill your shoes. To everyone at Anchor House – you are amazing and should be extremely proud of being part of a team that is so well respected within the industry. To Dave Candler – thank you for the work you do to steer the charity in the right direction (always upwards), going above and beyond in your role to support the whole leisure industry. Finally, to our members, brand ambassadors and partners – the STA would not be as successful as it is without your support, thank you!

I wish all the STA family a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2024.
Ali Beckman, STA President
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