The George Torkildsen Literary Award seeks to perpetuate the memory of this remarkable individual who served as Chair of the World Leisure Board of Directors (1996 – 2004). He was the first community sports center manager in Britain and has been called the father of sport and leisure in that country.
George Torkildsen (1934 – 2005) was a pioneer and leader to the emergent profession of recreation management. Trained as a Physical Education teacher, he started his career in community leisure management in Harlow, England in the 1960s, managing the first all-purpose leisure centre in the United Kingdom. Following periods of study in North America, George was awarded a well-deserved doctorate. He established a leisure management consultancy, Pickering Torkildsen, in partnership with Ron Pickering, the celebrated BBC TV athletics commentator. After Ron’s death, George continued his consultancy work, eventually forming the Torkildsen Barclay Partnership.
George was a leader who took the leisure management profession forward. He taught on many post-graduate leisure and recreation courses. He worked faultlessly and tirelessly improving standards and focusing on excellence of delivery. He was active and well respected throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. Both the main UK leisure management institutes honoured him with life memberships.
A prolific writer, lecturer and teacher, he authored Leisure and Recreation Management, Leisure Management A to Z: A Dictionary of Terms, and Torkildsen’s Guides to Leisure Management. These publications have become standard coursework reading on many leisure management courses around the world.
In 2005, he conceived and implemented the concept of an International Innovation Prize for leisure management projects which the World Leisure Organisation first awarded in 2006. In his memory, the trophy awarded to winning projects is known as “The George”.
This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the recreation, parks and leisure service literature by advancing innovative ideas, thoughts and/or philosophical perspectives.