Sonning Common celebrates 20 years of health walks!
150 past and present walkers and volunteers have celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sonning Common Walking for Health scheme.
The group hosted an afternoon tea at the village hall, and walkers were then invited to take part in a social walk on one of the original routes.
In 1996 local GP Dr William Bird took some direct action to help the patients of his diabetic clinic to become more active by organising short, free, friendly health walks. "This was in response to a landmark publication which said that walking was good for health' said William. 'Until then walking had been overlooked as having a role to play in improving people's health". Since 1996 there have been 10 health walks every week starting in and around Sonning Common.
Unsurprisingly, William's vision caught on - first in places like Wokingham and across Wiltshire. And then nationwide: "It's amazing to think that what started as a survey to 200 patients and a public meeting in the village hall has today become the national programme led by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support" says Simon Barnett from the Ramblers.
"Walking for Health has been one of the public health success stories of the last 20 years, and over the next 20 years we look forward to supporting more schemes to lead more walks in more communities, especially focusing on people who currently aren't doing enough physical activity to benefit their health and wellbeing."