After overcoming challenges with her own physical and mental health, Maureen is inspiring others to make a positive change in their lives as a walk leader.
“I never used to be fit. I was a size 22-24, weighing almost 18 stone, and I suffered from joint pains and heart palpitations. I experienced depression and anxiety, and had very little confidence after going through a difficult divorce.
“On 1st September 2014, with the help of my sister, I decided things had to change. I started to go for short walks outside in the evening. To begin with, I could only walk for five minutes at a time, but I was determined. I built up my stamina little by little, until eventually I could walk for half an hour.
"By this point, I’d lost almost three stone by walking, exercising and eating well. I decided to join a 12 week healthy weight nutritional programme and got to know Kash Powar, the nutritionist running the programme.
"Kash knew I loved walking, and how much it had helped me, and in July 2016 she asked if I would consider training to be a walk leader and lead a new Sunday healthy walk group.
“I decided to go for it. I wanted to motivate and inspire others, using my own experience to help them get healthy.
“What I find most rewarding about being a walk leader is getting to know the walkers and seeing them progress. You can see the satisfaction and joy they get from the walks, and how much they look forward to them.
“I chat to my walkers to make sure they feel welcome. I ask ‘How are you?’, ‘How has your week been?’. A lot of the time we’re cracking up so much we don’t even notice we’re walking.
“I take my walkers to all the lovely quiet places they never even knew existed in our community. Walking is a fantastic way to get to know your community.
“My proudest moment as a walk leader has been motivating my walkers to take part in events we’ve organised. We’ve done a 5k and a 10k race, as well as a walk-a-thon and a 100k trek. We raise money for a different charity at each event, and everyone gets a certificate or medal. You can see how proud they are, the sense of fulfilment and achievement. It’s wonderful!
“Two of my walkers have just trained to be walk leaders. I told them ‘Be yourselves and have passion in what you do.’ It’s different when you walk as a group; you have that company and that motivation. It really is like a big family.”
Find out more about volunteering as a walk leader.