Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Health centre plaque marks 21 years of Green Gym

Health centre plaque marks 21 years of Green Gym

A PLAQUE has been installed at Sonning Common Health Centre to celebrate the inauguration of the Green Gym movement 21 years ago.

It was unveiled at a ceremony attended by 15 people, including members and staff at the centre in Wood Lane.

The plaque, which is positioned at the entrance, reads: “At this health centre in 1998, Dr William Bird created the Sonning Common Green Gym, the first of many Green Gyms throughout the UK and overseas set up together with the conservation volunteers.”

Green Gym offers an opportunity for people to be active while working outside on nature conservation tasks to support the environment. About 100 branches now exist around the world.

The Sonning Common Green Gym branch has about 50 members who carry out hedge-planting and laying as well as fencing twice a week.

They work at Nettlebed and Peppard commons and Temple Island Meadows, near Remenham, among other sites.

The work can involve the removal of trees or poisonous plants encroaching on the commons and helps to strengthen the biodiversity of the areas.

Julia Booker, who leads the sessions, said: “The gym is specifically for people to get fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. We start off with warm-ups, stretches and warm-down stretches.

“I love going along and working as a team. You can chat away while you are planting things and at the beginning of the work you can see what needs to be done.

“After you have done three hours you can see what you have achieved. Also there is usually homemade cake, which people seem to enjoy.

“The other brilliant thing about the Green Gym is you can work as much and as little as you like. I really enjoy it, so long may it continue.”

Dr Kim Emerson, from the health centre, said: “We are really proud that the Green Gym started in Sonning Common along with the health walks that Dr Bird created when he was a GP partner here.

“These health initiatives have been added to by the practice and with social prescribing being on all GP agendas it is hoped that such initiatives and others like it will be regularly offered to patients across the whole country.”

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