In January 2013 Chesterfield Borough Council launched the Holmebrook Valley Park Health Walk under the auspices of the National Walking for Health Scheme. A Health Walk is a short comfortable walk of about an hour which is aimed at encouraging those who may not be very active to improve their health and mental well-being by taking a walk in the company of a friendly group. Each walk is led by a trained Volunteer Walk Leader who plans and risk-assesses suitable routes, welcomes walkers and makes sure everyone has a chance for some safe and enjoyable exercise.
After careful planning and plenty of advertising in the local area, our Holmebrook Valley Park Health Walk was launched on Jan 17th by the then Deputy Mayor Cllr Stone, with an excellent turnout of about 20 walkers. We received coverage in the local press, with a very eye-catching and informative double page spread afterwards in Twist magazine which brought us more recruits over the following months.
Since those early days of carefully walking the frosty paths, our regular group of walkers have continued to turn out each week come rain or shine. Our Walk Leader Sally Booth does a sterling job of gradually introducing the walkers to new areas of the park and as their fitness improves over the months she gives the group a chance to try slightly longer or more challenging routes if they feel able. We all reconvene to the cafe afterwards for a well-earned cuppa and a natter and this time for a chat and socialising is just as valuable to the group as the physical benefits of the walk. The group regularly tell me how much better they feel, both physically and mentally since starting in January and how much they look forward to their Thursday morning walk.
Some of our lady walkers who started in January, never having taken much exercise before, went on to complete the Chesterfield Race for Life in June, walking 5 km over the town cobbles in aid of Cancer Research - this was a great achievement and as well as raising funds for the charity it showed the ladies how much they have improved over the 6 months since they started.
A group of 10 of us also represented HVP at the annual AGM and social evening for the Chesterfield area Walk this Way Network, this was our first social evening and was such good fun we will probably organise more social activities of our own in future and are already planning a "Christmas Special".
We make an effort to accommodate all fitness levels and states of health and try and find everyone a route that they can manage - we hope in the future to be able to offer options each week, maybe taking a short walk and a longer walk so everyone can find a suitable level. To do this we really need more trained Walk Leaders - it's not necessary to attend the walk every week, or even to lead the walk - extra pairs of hands and feet are always welcome! There is a one day training course on Oct 16th at Poolsbrook country park if anyone is interested in helping out with the walk, with another training day to follow in March.
Please feel free to come along and join us on a Thursday at 10.30 by the cafe - everyone is most welcome.
Contact me Tina Hensey, Chesterfield Borough Council Walking for Health Officer for more information about the Health Walk or if you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Walk Leader.
Phone number 01246 345669 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.