A GROUP of fitness fans who provide support and friendship through organising local running and walking sessions are celebrating after receiving a £1,000 donation from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust.
Fitmums and Friends run adult running and walking groups in Cottingham, east Hull, Beverley and Hedon.
Junior groups are also held in Cottingham and Beverley, with buggy sessions for mums of young children also held in east Hull and Cottingham, on a weekly basis.
The group was initially started by Cottingham mum Sam Barlow in 2009 when her eldest child started school, arranging to meet five other parents for a run to keep fit and active.
Since then, Fitmums and Friends has grown to include to 370 members, including 38 juniors, fathers, grandparents, other relatives, mums-to-be and friends.
Now, £500 has been donated to the group to help further raise awareness of the buggy sessions, with a further £500 provided to buy equipment for Fitmums Juniors.
Sam, 47, who won the Community Sports Award in the Hull Daily Mail’s Pride of East Yorkshire Awards 2014, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic.
“With regards to the equipment for the juniors, it will enable us to provide more challenging and interesting sessions. It creates activities for the children but develops their agility, balance and coordination too, which is crucial for kids.
“For the buggy sessions, it’s invaluable to get that message across that it’s a fun activity and the donation from Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust means so much.”
Fitmums and Friends is aimed at people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether or not they have run before.
They work on a “shepherding” system to ensure even those at the back of the group do not feel alone and are constantly supported and encouraged on whichever length of route they choose.
Meanwhile, the buggy sessions are a walking workout for parents with a child in a buggy, or those who just want to join in the fun without their little ones in tow.
A scheme to help and support mothers suffering from post-natal depression has also been launched as Fitmums and Friends continues to grow.
Sam said: “The money for the buggy sessions will help promote them because it’s good to get the message out there that there’s a way of being active with your baby.
“If you haven’t got childcare, it’s really difficult to be active, so it’s great to have a daytime session where mums can go out.
“Sometimes, having a baby makes people feel more isolated than ever before. There are so many benefits, including the social side.”
Fitmums and Friends member Ellie Birch, 45, from Sproatley, is coordinator and run leader of the east Hull buggy session, which is held at East Park, Holderness Road, east Hull, from 9.30am every Thursday.
The group covers a three-mile circuit and has an average of 15 mums attending each week, with more than 60 participants since it launched on May 1 this year.
Ellie said: “It is fabulous to have the support of a local firm and we are delighted with the donation from the trust. You don’t need a buggy and you don’t have to bring a child.
“The members love it and a few of the ladies have even changed their working hours if they have gone back part-time, to make sure they can still come.
“This donation will help more mums keep active after having a child.”
The equipment bought for the youngsters using the money from the Trust includes bean bags, javelins, hurdles and athletic laddders.
Sam said: “I am incredibly proud of Fitmums and Friends, but it wouldn’t work without everyone else. We have brilliant coordinators running these groups, volunteers and leaders. I’m just a little part of it.”
More information about Fitmums and Friends is available at www.fitmums.org.uk