THE next time fitness fans in Abingdon go for a workout they will do so safe in the knowledge their leisure centre is one of the best in Britain.

White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre handed a Quest ‘Excellence’ status, becoming one of just 16 centres nationally to have achieved the rating.

It is the first time a publicly owned leisure centre in Oxfordshire has been awarded the status.

The centre in Audlett Drive, which hosts more than 800,000 visits a year, was recently assessed by Quest, the Sport England recommended programme which measures how effective leisure facilities and sports development teams are at providing customer service.

Councillor Charlotte Dickson, cabinet member for leisure at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved with the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre.

"The team there work very hard to ensure customers receive great service every time they visit. "This award, along with the new £1.7million gym extension, which opened earlier this year, really marks the centre out as one of the best in the country.

The centre was checked against 13 categories over two days, including maintenance, participation, environment and customer experience.

Staff were interviewed and there was also a visit from a mystery shopper.

The assessment was carried out independently by sports management and health and safety experts Right Directions who manage the Quest scheme.

Kevin Williams, the leisure centre's general manager, said: “The team at the centre are over the moon with the result of the recent Quest visit.

"It is a real testament to the efforts they have put in to make the centre one of the best in the country and should be proud of the standards they deliver to many local people.

“The result is also a consequence of the ongoing positive partnership between Vale of White Horse District Council and [charitable social enterprise] GLL, which has worked closely to deliver the recent gym extension and many other projects that have either raised the facility standards for the local community or reduced the environmental impact of the centre.

"Well done to everyone involved."