Travelling with George

The George Torkildsen Memorial Trust was established in memory of leisure’s great mentor. Don Earley explains how the Trust’s travel bursary is continuing George’s work of spreading the word around the world.

Claire Beynon: travelling with George

George Torkildsen was a pioneer and leader to the emergent profession of recreation management. Trained as a PE teacher, he set out in community leisure management in Harlow in the 1960s, managing the first all-purpose leisure centre in the United Kingdom.  Following periods of study in North America, George had been awarded a well-deserved doctorate and after his time in Harlow he established his consultancy, Pickering Torkildsen, in partnership with Ron Pickering, the celebrated athletics commentator. After Ron’s death George continued his consultancy work, eventually forming the Torkildsen Barclay Partnership.

George was a leader taking the leisure profession forward. He taught on many post-graduate leisure and recreation courses. He worked faultlessly and tirelessly to take the profession forward, improving standards and focusing on excellence of delivery. He was active and well respected throughout the United Kingdom and beyond, with both ILAM and the ISRM presenting him with honorary life memberships. He was active in the World Leisure organisation for many years, including a stint as chair, but to many, many people he was known as the author of Leisure and Recreation Management, the industry bible published in its sixth edition shortly before his death in 2005.

The George Torkildsen Memorial Trust was set up to recognise George’s outstanding contribution to leisure management. The Trust has established a fund to offer an opportunity for those embarking upon a career in leisure management to travel and study experiences and practice elsewhere in and beyond the UK.

The first award was made to Claire Beynon of Newport in 2007. When London won the right to host the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the vision was to spread the benefits across the UK, inspiring people to be more active and lead healthier lives.  One city that has responded to this was Newport in South Wales. A unique and innovative Olympic Legacy project has been introduced in the city to increase levels of physical activity in the sedentary population (57% of adults). Called Going for Gold, the project has captured the public’s imagination and through the use of social marketing techniques attracted 31,000 members in the first year, 20% of the city’s population.

The scheme has had resounding early success in its aims of getting more people more active more often, improving health literacy and reducing unplanned attendances at health services. This city-wide physical activity reward scheme is supported by a strong partnership led by Newport’s local health board and Newport City Council with backing from the National Health Service, other statutory bodies, local charities, local voluntary groups and local businesses. The project has been identified as an example of good practice by the Local Government Association and demonstrates how participation opportunities can be created across the UK. 

An award from the George Torkildsen Memorial Trust enabled Clare to accept an invitation to deliver a presentation on the project in Adelaide, Australia at the Be Active conference, the Sixth National Physical Activity Conference, the Fifth National Sports Injury Prevention Conference and the Australian Conference of Science and Medicine in Sport, which all ran concurrently in October 2007. 

The Trust is currently inviting new applications for support. Applicants must be resident in the United Kingdom. Awards will normally be offered up to a maximum of £1,000 and the Trust may also be able to offer links with projects in the UK and abroad, through organisations such as World Leisure.

Those interested are asked to provide a letter of application and a ‘mini-business plan’, which should provide background information on the intended study project and its objectives, including a brief description; benefits and outcomes to the individual and the profession; time-table; total costs, indicating other financial contributions; and references.  Applicants are encouraged to indicate how their proposal may be considered innovative, has potential for replication and can act as a catalyst for the development of learning and professional practice in the United Kingdom.

Applications should be sent to the George Torkildsen Memorial Trust, care of Don Earley at the Fields in Trust office [see below for full details]. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2008. If interviews are considered necessary they will be held, and 2008 Awards, finalised in November 2008. The specified project must be completed within nine months of the date of offer.


Don Earley is deputy chief executive of Fields in Trust


To apply for a travel bursary and for further details of the George Torkildsen Memorial Trust please contact:

The George Torkildsen Memorial Trust
c/o Don Earley
Deputy Chief Executive
Fields in Trust
2d Woodstock Studios
36 Woodstock Grove
London W12 8LE


Further details of Newport’s Going for Gold are available from Claire Beynon via e-mail at


The Leisure Review, September 2008



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“The George Torkildsen Memorial Trust was set up to recognise George’s outstanding contribution to leisure management”

George Torkildsen: leisure pioneer

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