RAF man Paul set to soar at Cumbria park’s gym

Michael Holgate (left) presents a long service award to retiring gym club manager David Oates. On the right is incoming manager Paul Tracey

Michael Holgate (left) thanks retiring gym club manager David Oates. On the right is new manager Paul Tracey

After more than two decades of helping to keep South Cumbria residents in good shape, Silverdale swimming pool and gym club manager David Oates is finally hanging up his towel.

But David knows he’ll be leaving the popular club in good hands – because he has spent the past few months helping his successor to limber up for the manager’s role.

Stepping into the post is Paul Tracey, a RAF Reserve Flight Lieutenant and Officer Commanding of one of the largest RAF Air Cadet squadrons in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Kendal-born David Oates, aged 65, has been full-time manager of Silverdale Holiday Park’s leisure club since it began opening its doors to South Cumbria residents in 1999.

He says he has seen membership of the club mushroom over his time in the job as people have become more health conscious and better aware of the benefits of exercise.

The club provides a 17-metre pool complex with spa and sauna, a professional gym with state-of-the art exercising equipment, and a recently-opened US-style bowling alley.

Prior to joining Silverdale Holiday Park just over 20 years ago, David was a PE teacher at the Queen Katherine School in Kendal where he first started teaching in 1973.

David and his wife Jenny, a former Westmorland General Hospital nurse, live in Burneside.

Silverdale's leisure club also includes a new bowling alley, opened in spring by local MP Tim Farron (above, right)

Silverdale’s leisure club also includes a new bowling alley, opened in spring by local MP Tim Farron (above, right)

Paul Tracey, aged 40, says he is greatly looking forward to his new challenge at the Silverdale leisure club – and it’s one which he is very well qualified to take on.

Prior to joining the park, Paul was for five years the training co-ordinator developing IT and sports apprenticeships at Lancaster and Morecambe College where he was also an NVQ assessor.

He was previously regional development officer for the Swimming Teachers Association where he implemented government sports projects, including swimming, lifeguarding and safety, in leisure clubs across Northern England and Scotland.

Born in Lancaster, Paul developed a keen interest in the RAF from an early age and joined his local cadet squadron when he was 13, becoming a Reserve Officer at 25 years old.

Now holding the rank of Flight Lieutenant Reserve, he dedicates much of his spare time to training and managing the RAF Air Cadets of the 455 (Morecambe and Heysham) Squadron in Morecambe.

Also a keen swimmer and skier, Paul lives in Heysham with his wife Stephanie who is a care manager. The couple have two young children.

Silverdale Holiday Park owner Michael Holgate said the leisure club was very fortunate to be able to continue enjoying a high calibre of expertise in its top role:

“David has put in place excellent standards of management on behalf of members which I know Paul is keen to continue and to develop,” he said.

“The club is an important part of our business here at Silverdale, and now provides around twenty full and part time jobs for local people who can also gain sports-related qualifications here.

“The club also plays a valued community role, and our members range from youngsters to people in their eighties, proving that fitness is a great leveller in South Cumbria!” added Michael.

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