In Inspiring Buckinghamshire

The Heart of Bucks ‘Inspiring Buckinghamshire’ series gives local people from a range of sectors a chance to share their knowledge and insights to help inspire others.

Here we are speaking with Mark Ormerod, CEO at Leap 


Tell us about yourself and your connection to Buckinghamshire.

I have worked in the sport and physical activity sector for the past 33 years. For the past decade, my main role has been based in Buckinghamshire leading Leap. Leap is a social enterprise that works in partnership with hundreds of organisations to improve people’s lives through movement, physical activity and sport.

The key to this is tackling the most stubborn inequalities in our area, and I’m pleased to say that Heart of Bucks is a key collaborator with us on this mission.

I have been a supporter of SportsAid for very many years, and have been chair of trustees for the Eastern region for the past 7 years. We support talented young sports people in their hour of greatest financial need; being selected to compete nationally or internationally can sometimes ‘price people out’ of their sport, and that’s when SportsAid steps in.
Finally, for the past 2 years, I have chaired the Buckinghamshire VCSE Partnership Board, more of which later . . .


What personal achievements are you most proud of?

Personally, I enjoy joining the dots, connecting people and organisations, enabling them to do good things and help others. I am very proud of the team ethos at Leap, and I work with some of the most generous, talented, and committed people in the sector.

Leap does amazing things, but culturally we are quite understated. We enjoy winning national awards and topping national league tables, but the thing that brings most pride (and occasional tear to the eye) is hearing back from people, on how their lives, their health or outlook has been helped through sport or physical activity.

I think SportsAid speaks for itself, I have enjoyed helping raise £2.6m regionally to support over 2,000 athletes achieve their best over my 15-year involvement. SportsAid Eastern assisted 25 young sportspeople who competed in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Any athlete representing GB generates pride in me, but if there’s a personal connection, that’s extra special.


What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?

Through my voluntary role at SportsAid, I have met many gifted and talented sportspeople. I have heard first-hand from Naomi Riches, Louise Sugden, Sophie Christiansen, Ian Rose, from Paralympians about their experiences, the challenges and obstacles they have overcome, and the limited aspirations expected from them because of their disabilities. The admiration and respect I have for them, and many others, for what they have overcome and gone on to achieve, puts any challenges I think I may have into perspective.

More broadly at Leap our 2022-2026 strategy, sets out how we will work with more partners to reduce levels of inactivity, increase positive experiences for children and young people and continue to increase investment into Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. Our mission is to reduce the challenges and stubborn inequalities facing a growing number of people as we enable more opportunities for them to participate; being active should not be a challenge, it should be an entitlement.


What is the best advice you have ever received?

From my late Father, “that life is not a dress rehearsal”.


What is your greatest hope for the future for Buckinghamshire?

What I am most encouraged by is the collaborative leadership within Buckinghamshire to address macro-level issues. I have witnessed this first hand through chairing the VCSE Partnership Board, and how we have increasingly engaged with Buckinghamshire Council and other key statutory partners, we are are a turning point.

We understand a siloed system will not adequately address incredibly complex, convoluted shared problems. How often do we hear about people falling through the gaps? A unifying systems approach is needed; creating solutions, combining investment, and intelligence, and willingness from all partners. Leap is ready unite the movement, to lead where we have expertise and where we do not, be led by others.

To find out more about Leap, click here.

To find out more about SportsAid, click here.

To follow Mark Ormerod on Twitter, click here.

To read more of our Inspiring Buckinghamshire entries, please click here.