Masham exercise group is moving on up

An exercise group for adults in Masham is fighting fit thanks to support from North Yorkshire County Council and its partners.

Members of Keep Moving Masham go through their paces with North Yorkshire County Councillors and members of the County Council’s Stronger Communities team.

Members of the County Council joined regulars for an exercise session of the Keep Moving Masham group to see for themselves how the group is thriving and to thank the volunteers that run it for their efforts.

Keep Moving Masham came into being after funding for the Masham Town Hall Fit 4 Life programme ended in 2016. Members were keen to take on the running of the class themselves, so went for support to Stronger Communities, the County Council’s programme to help communities to play a greater role in delivering services.

The Stronger Communities delivery manager directed them to local County Councillor Margaret Atkinson, Member for Ripon and Fountains division, who provided funds through her locality budget to cover the group’s running costs for 12 months. They were also signposted to North Yorkshire Sport for on-going support and training and to Harrogate Borough Council sports development team. Volunteer leaders received training and advice on the correct equipment to buy.

Cllr Atkinson said: “They asked me for help and I was able to give them some money to keep them going. It is making people a lot fitter. Some people say they can’t believe how much difference it is making to them. The group has a real community value as well.”

Clare Watkinson, secretary of the group, added: “It is not just a fitness group, it is a social group as well. We go for a coffee afterwards. We look after each other. If people can’t make it, we support them and make sure they know we are thinking about them.”

Keep Moving Masham has grown from about a dozen regulars and now has 35 members, with up to 28 regularly attending each session. Some have complex needs or limited mobility, but all are able to enjoy the weekly Monday session run by volunteers in Masham Town Hall. The group had to move upstairs to the larger room as it grew. The group has also arranged outings to Helmsley and York and plans to organise more.

County Councillor Helen Swiers, chair of the County Council, said: “This visit is one of several I and County Council colleagues will make over the next few months to community groups in different parts of the county. This will give us a chance to see first-hand a little of the great work being done by these and so many other groups around the county, to thank them for their efforts and to see how Stronger Communities is supporting them.”

County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities, said: “Stronger Communities is a flagship initiative for the County Council. We want to do all we can to help communities to help themselves by making the most of the skills, expertise and enthusiasm of the people who live in them. It is a pleasure and a privilege to see for ourselves how the support and funding provided by the Stronger Communities team is benefiting people and changing lives.”

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “It is so important for people to keep moving and keep fit, especially older people. It was great to see everyone working together and the great feeling of friendship and the natter in the coffee shop afterwards. We had a really good laugh joining in. It would be great if this could be rolled out to other areas.”

This story was published 29 January 2018