Charity of the Year 2017

Guildford Spectrum, operated by Freedom Leisure  on behalf of Guildford Borough Council, has named a local charity, Cherry Trees, its Charity of the Year, after members of the public voted it their top choice in a deserved win over three other shortlisted charities, with 45% of the overall votes.

Cherry Trees provides specialist care and short breaks for children and young people aged 0-19 with a range of disabilities, including learning, physical and sensory impairments. The charity is a lifeline for many families. Children and young people are regularly cared for at Cherry Trees, whether it be after school for a few hours, a weekend or even a couple of weeks,  enabling them to spend time with friends and enjoy new experiences and opportunities, whilst their families have a much-needed break too.  

The charity supports over 100 families in Surrey and its main aim is to ensure that all of their children have positive experiences and access to opportunities similar to their peers.

As our Charity of the Year 2017, Cherry Trees will be given activity tickets that can be exchanged for a wide variety of leisure facilities including leisure pool swimming sessions, ice skating, tenpin bowling, sports hall activities and use of the gym.  The activity tickets are generated through the generosity of the Guildford Lido, Ash Manor Sports Centre and Guildford Spectrum's customers who donate their Active Card loyalty points to the cause.  These points are converted into activity tickets for the charity to use as they wish. 


Our customers support will benefit the charity by the offering of funded activities saving on expenses for the charity while also enhancing the activity programme significantly. In addition, partnering with Spectrum allows Cherry Trees to provide opportunities for the entire family, supporting them with access a range of enjoyable activities together. 

Finally, as Cherry Trees saves over £200,000 in costs each year due to a dedicated team of volunteers giving their time for free, Spectrum will provide vouchers for the volunteers to help them to continue their much appreciated commitment. Quite a few of the regular volunteers are also parents, who are working towards a return to work, so it is hoped that enabling them to increase their physical activity levels through use of fitness facilities at Spectrum, will increase their emotional and physical well-being and assist with this goal.

Gayle Clarke, Freedom Leisure, Spectrum Marketing Manager, says: “It is a big responsibility each year when we seek for our charity of the year, and our customers really get behind both the voting and donation of their Active Card loyalty points. It is a fantastic way for us to help make a difference to some of the worthy charities we have the pleasure to work with.  Freedom Leisure prides itself on serving the communities in which it operates, which includes supporting local charities on top of providing top-class leisure and fitness facilities. This year we had four very worthy local charities in the mix, but the public spoke loud and clear with their votes as Cherry Tree secured a huge majority.”

Claire Bryant, Cherry Trees Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to have been nominated as Guilford Spectrum’s Charity of the Year, thank you so much to all of our supporters that voted for us. Benefiting from the Active Card points and partnership with Freedom Leisure is going to make a real difference to Cherry Trees in so many ways. One of our main aims is to provide the children that stay with us with a variety of positive experiences within the community to help them build friendships, develop new interests, learn new skills, stay healthy and most importantly to have fun. We have around 100 families that use Cherry Trees and as a charity that needs to raise approximately £500,000 per annum, we have a limited fund for activities. The children love going to Guildford Spectrum, it is such an inclusive leisure centre and as a result, our children always have a great time there. We are very excited to now be able to access a greater range of activities on a more regular basis”.

Customers wanting to donate Active Points to the charity can simply visit Customer Services, complete the online form here or email with their Active Card number and the number of points they would like to give.    

To find out more information about Cherry Trees visit

photo; Children, Staff and Volunteers from Cherry Trees, Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Gordon Jackson , Cherry Trees Head of Care Peter Davey, Cherry Trees Chief Executive Officer Claire Bryant and Guildford Spectrum Marketing Manager Gayle Clarke.