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Active in York Award: interview with last year's winner

24th June 2019 by Hannah Land

We talk to last year's winner, Egg Cameron of GoodGym York.

Benenden Health: You won the Active in York award last year, what does it mean to you to be active in York?

Egg Cameron: It’s about exploring the city we live in, this beautiful city, and the special thing about GoodGym [Goodgym is a UK-wide community of runners who incorporate good deeds into their workouts] is that we get to link up with so many other community projects. There’s a massive volunteering community in York and for us it’s about providing a bit of people power.

There’s a lot of small community projects with big ideas who just need a bit of extra people power to make their projects happen and that’s what we can provide.

BH: What sort of stuff have you been up to in the past year since the awards?

EC: So much! We’ve been regularly working with a team at St. Nick’s [a centre in York for nature and green living]; we built a huge footpath which runs along Heworth Holme which is along the Tang Hall beck. We also built a brand new footpath in Hull Road Park which looks fantastic and now every time we go there we make sure we run across it so we get the benefit of not getting muddy feet!

We have also worked with loads of little York-based projects like Poppleton Community Railway Nursery which is a really small project. We’ve done a lot with York Greenways and Sustrans who look after the cycle paths in the area and also the solar system route which is from Bishopthorpe and runs all the way out towards Rufforth.

Independent residents’ groups often ask for our help because a lot of the residents’ groups are looked after by people who are retired so they’ve got the time to do it but don’t necessarily have the physical capacity to do a lot of the physical work. They are there to supervise us and they know what needs doing, so we can just go in and do it.

BH: Has your membership increased over the last year?

EC: Yes hugely. As of the end of February we have 281 members of our York group. We’ve probably had another 100 members in the last year approximately. It’s building all the time.

BH: What would you say to anyone looking to get active, maybe for the first time? What would be your first few steps?

EC: I would say find something you enjoy but do something with other people because it’s really difficult to do anything on your own and being part of a community is a really important aspect of that. You don’t necessarily have to go out and get really sweaty or work really hard, it’s just about getting out and getting moving. We do a lot of sitting down these days and I would say to someone find some way to move that makes you happy.

BH: That’s great. Has GoodGym got any more plans for this year?

EC: We are doing a lot at the moment, as well as our regular Monday runs, we do community missions now which are tasks that happen at other times outside of Mondays.

In January we won the ‘Golden Trowel’ which is a challenge we take part in with every other GoodGym area, there are 48 areas across the country, and we did the most good deeds out of everybody and set a new record for what can be achieved in a month. We did 706 good deeds in January!

The other thing that we initiated in York that national GoodGym has now taken on is a walking group. So, for any tasks that are less than 4k away we open it up to walkers and we have a walk leader. We meet at the same time, but the walkers head off while the runners warm up. It’s a power walk but it means that for people who can’t run or don’t want to run, we are offering another way to still be involved.

We’re hoping to work with York Mind [One of Benenden Health’s key charity beneficiaries] as a partner and run an extra session every week or month. This would be a smaller group who are suffering with their mental health. It meets all the criteria of supporting positive mental health, connecting with others, being physically active and learning new skills, being involved in your community and being fulfilling. 

BH: Do you have anything to say to whoever wins Active in York this year?

EC: Congratulations! The great thing about York is we have this fantastic community who all want to support each other. It doesn’t feel like everyone’s in competition. We work really collaboratively with a lot of other running groups, volunteering groups, and so I would say great, let’s see if we can find ways to collaborate and make more people more active in the next year!

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