Athletics award for South Gloucestershire project

Gazette Series: South Gloucestershire Council’s Active Lifestyles Manager Brian Gardner and Director of Public Health Dr Mark Pietroni with the Run England project of the Year award (2986608) South Gloucestershire Council’s Active Lifestyles Manager Brian Gardner and Director of Public Health Dr Mark Pietroni with the Run England project of the Year award (2986608)

A SCHEME to set up running groups in South Gloucestershire has won an athletics accolade.

The 2013 Run England project of the year award for the South West was presented to South Gloucestershire Council at a ceremony in Exeter.

Deserving volunteers from across the region were presented with trophies in recognition of their work as part of the England Athletics National Awards and Hall of Fame programme.

In South Gloucestershire, 17 volunteers were funded to be trained in leadership before going on to help set up ten new recreational running groups.

A number of women-only running groups were also supported, along with a buggy group for mums and dads and a successful workplace group, which reached 1,000 members in its first year and has been held up as a model of good practice across the South West and Midlands.

The award was collected by Brian Gardner, the council's active lifestyles manager and a keen runner.

He said: “It was a great honour to collect this award on behalf of the council and especially the growing number of sports volunteers in South Gloucestershire.

"It really has never been easier to take up running for health, fitness and enjoyment. Our volunteers are making this possible by giving up their time to help others, all year round, come rain or shine.”

Dr Mark Pietroni, South Gloucestershire's director of public health, said: “Running regularly can provide a number of physical and mental health benefits.

"It helps to maintain a healthy heart by giving the heart muscle an effective workout, can improve circulation and will also help reduce the risk of a heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.

"Running can lift your mood and help to relieve mild depression. It can help you get a good night’s sleep, and you can also burn as many as 1,000 calories in one hour.”

The project also funded and helped to set up the Little Stoke parkrun, which has seen more than 1,500 runners recording over 1,500 personal best performances in the first year - all organised by some 150 volunteers.

New parkruns are due to start in 2014, including one for Chipping Sodbury. Anyone interested in getting involved should visit www.parkrun.org.uk to register for free, weekly 5K runs.

A new Run South Gloucestershire leaflet featuring details of how to take up running in the district will also be available in libraries, leisure centres, doctors’ surgeries and other outlets from early 2014.

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