Dame Kelly leads nation in fitness campaign to mark birthday of NHS

The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells gave a professional level performance in the  ISA drama contests

DAME KELLY HOLMES took part in the Tonbridge parkrun last weekend to encourage the nation to get fit on the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The double Olympic gold medallist from Hildenborough was a nursing assistant before she went into the Army, and she was promoting a nationwide running event on June 9 to celebrate the health service’s anniversary.

By recruiting members of the public to take part in their local run, ‘parkrun for the NHS’ is spreading the word about the contribution of the NHS to the health of the nation and inspiring people to take part in physical activity and volunteering.

Dame Kelly joined around 650 runners at the Racecourse sportsground on Saturday [May 12] for the officially launch of the joint initiative.

NHS staff took part and many others were dressed up as doctors, nurses and patients.

Dame Kelly had earlier tweeted: ‘Too cold for a little nurse’s outfit but I will be wearing blue.’

Over 500 parkruns are held across the UK every Saturday morning. The non-competitive 5km runs are free and open to all ages and abilities.

Growing levels of obesity in adults and children is a major health issue for the NHS because it leads to many life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, some types of cancer and stroke.

It is estimated that obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year and it could overtake tobacco smoking as the biggest cause of preventable death.

The cost of treating diabetes alone is around £10billion every year – nearly 10 per cent of the NHS’s entire budget.

Dame Kelly said: ‘Increased levels of activity leads to improved mood, self-esteem and a wide range of health benefits. I think it’s really important we use things like the parkrun as medicine.’

She added: ‘I know from first-hand experience how sociable and welcoming parkruns are.

‘You can be a volunteer, you can run for the first time, you can meet people, you can socialise, you can have a coffee at the end of it.

‘Actually that’s more important, to get people to feel good about themselves.

‘My mother was very ill last year. She passed away, unfortunately, but she had fantastic care.

‘You know you only really probably appreciate the NHS when something is going drastically wrong and you realise what it’s all about.’

Ian Dodge, NHS England’s Director of Strategy and Innovation, is a frequent parkrunner and took part in the Tonbridge version.

He said: ‘With more than half of adults in England overweight or obese, it is vital that people find time in their busy lives to get more active.

‘In the year the NHS turns 70, taking part in this special edition of parkrun is one way to get fitter, feel better and deliver a welcome birthday present for the health service too.’

PICTURE: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE: Dame Kelly Holmes leads the Tonbridge parkrun at the start of a national campaign to recognise the 70th birthday of the NHS PHOTO: Scott Wishart

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter