Super swim teacher Julie honoured

February 03 2017

A SWIMMING teacher based in Longwell Green has been named employee of the year across all of South Gloucestershire’s leisure centres.

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A SWIMMING teacher based in Longwell Green has been named employee of the year across all of South Gloucestershire’s leisure centres.

Julie Gazzard, 50, has taught thousands of children and adults to swim since starting at Longwell Green leisure centre 10 years ago.

Her achievement was recognised at an evening awards ceremony at the BAWA club on January 13, where she beat 630 colleagues to win the award for employee of the year.

Her trophy was presented by comedian Rod Woodward, who hosted the awards ceremony, and Ian Jones, director of buildings and environment for Circadian Trust which runs South Gloucestershire’s leisure centres on behalf of the council.

Mr Jones said: “Julie genuinely cares about increasing participation and creating an exercise habit that will last through to adulthood.

“She is massively passionate about supporting and helping children and families with special needs.”

Julie, who grew up in Downend and has lived in Willsbridge for the past 15 years, said she was shocked to receive the award.

She said: “I felt very proud but was completely gobsmacked to win.

“Teaching swimming is my world. It’s rewarding because every child or adult who comes to me is an individual and needs to be taught in a different way so I need to keep learning and changing the way I do things every day.”

The mum of three joined Longwell Green leisure centre as a customer service adviser, but trained to be a swimming instructor after her talent for teaching was spotted.

She said: “My daughter volunteered me to be a parent helper at a school swimming lesson. The swimming teacher saw what I was doing with the children and asked if I was a trained instructor. When I said I was just a mum, she told me I ought to get trained and start teaching.”

Since then she has taught people from tiny babies to an 88-year-old beginner swimmer, and said she loves her job as swimming manager for the centre.

This is the second time she has been up for the employee of the year award, being a runner up last year and nominated again by colleagues this year because of her “unquantifiable work ethic and dilligence.”