Celebrating 20 years of Chelmsford’s wellbeing walking group
Heart and Sole celebrated their 20th anniversary last week, marking two decades of free, volunteer-led walks in Chelmsford.
Heart and Sole runs regular group walks, which take place across Chelmsford. What started as a Chelmsford City (then Borough) Council programme is now sustained entirely by volunteers, who were invited to celebrate at the Civic Centre last week.
Over 70 walkers joined a city centre walk to mark the occasion
Heart and Sole volunteers, over 70 regular walkers, and friends of The Ramblers, joined to complete the ‘Radio, Railway and River’ route. After meeting at Marconi Plaza, the group walked through Central Park and returned to the Civic Centre for tea, cake and some speeches.
Alan Headworth, Chair of the Friends of Heart and Sole, spoke about the history of the group and praised its volunteers for their dedication:
“We are here to celebrate 20 years of Heart and Sole, which was originally a Chelmsford Borough Council initiative, set up in 2003. It seems only fitting that we should be meeting here in the Civic Centre today.Alan Headworth, Heart and Sole Chairman
“Around 2019, Heart and Sole became a financially independent walking group, run by volunteers, and now we are working with The Ramblers as part of their Wellbeing Walks plan. Throughout the years, many things have changed, but what remains is the loyal attendance of our walkers and the commitment of our trained volunteer walk leaders.
“I would like to thank them for the time they give, week after week – as we look forward to the next 20 years!”
150 walkers take wellbeing in their stride every week
Originally introduced as part of the Walking for Health scheme, Heart and Sole was designed to help walkers improve their general fitness or aid recovery from illness.
Now, as part of The Ramblers' Wellbeing Walks, the focus is more holistic. It is widely understood that being outdoors benefits us physically and mentally. The nature of the group also means that joining in brings social benefits, too.
Around 150 walkers join each week. They take 13 routes across Chelmsford, with multiple walks available on most days.
Close links with the City are still going strong
While Heart and Sole is now led by its fantastic volunteers, its connections to the council remain strong. The programme is supported by our Community Sport and Wellbeing team, who act as a point of contact for enquiries from new walkers.
The Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford attended last week’s 20th anniversary celebration and joined the ‘Radio, Railway and River’ walk.
Heart and Sole regularly team up with the Mayor of Chelmsford to host special seasonal walks, raising money for charity. The next charity walk will be the Yuletide Stride on Thursday 7 December.
Wellbeing walks are open to everyone
The regular Heart and Sole programme includes low, medium, and high intensity walks. The walks are free to attend and new walkers are always welcome!
To learn more about the routes and how to sign up, visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk. Or contact the Community Health and Wellbeing team.
You can also volunteer to be a walk leader and help take this wonderful programme to its next big birthday! Visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk to join in.