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Erddig Nordic Walkers – Come Along and Try Them Out

by Love Wrexham Magazine
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Erddig Nordic Walkers – Come Along and Try Them Out

Erddig Nordic Walkers was established in 2015 and reconstituted in 2016 to its present form. Its purpose was to provide opportunities to engage in Nordic Walking and accrue the benefits of that exercise: health and well-being, mindfulness and combatting loneliness.

You can make and develop friendships and relationships with like-minded people and have fun in a safe, secure, non-threatening environment.

Sessions

Starting with a once-a-week session (Saturdays at Erddig), and a voluntary contribution of £1 per walker per walk. The name Erddig Nordic Walkers (ENW) was decided on, and we successfully obtained a grant of £1,500 from Sports Wales.

This sum allowed us to purchase Nordic Walking Poles that new members could use on a loan basis. Still keeping the £1 voluntary contribution facilitated a growth in membership and the activity of Nordic Walking.

It soon became apparent that there was a need for more walks, and a Wednesday afternoon walk at Erddig was introduced (meaning we cover two walks per week around that area). This Wednesday walk from 12.30 to 2.30pm meant that parents or grandparents could attend and still be available for child-care duties.

Technique Coaches and Walk Leaders

During this time, seven group members became Technique Coaches (March 2017) and were able to instruct members in the correct ways of Nordic Walking. These skills enhanced the walkers’ development and allowed them to experience the full benefits of Nordic Walking.

Walk Leaders were also trained to lead walks on National Trust Grounds, and we were also able to obtain Public Liability Insurance which covered Leaders to lead walks anywhere. All walks are risk assessed as our walkers’ safety is paramount.

Another walk on Mondays covers locations a little further away from Wrexham, mainly for the benefit of leaders. Consequently, our timetable of walks is Monday AM, Wednesday PM and Saturday AM.

The Monday walks were originally for leaders and more experienced walkers. However, they have now become a regular feature for all walkers of all abilities and offer our members an experience of the wider Wrexham community.

Four Technique Coaches became Nordic Walking Instructors funded by the National Trust (May 2018) and a further number of Walk Leaders were recruited. This ensured there would always be sufficient Leaders to cover a variety of walks on all three days.

Different Types of Walks and Events

We could now offer walks at Gentle, Intermediate or Advanced levels, depending on the skills and abilities of members. During this time, we saw an increase in attendance and membership.

As our programme of walks has evolved, we have introduced longer “Away Days” and Special Events like The Mawddach Trail, Canal Boat Trip, Powys Castle and Montgomery Canal, which have since become annual features of our calendar of events.

Powys Castle

These outings are self-funded from our voluntary contributions. We hold a summer event, and a Secret Santa and Christmas/New Year event with prizegiving. This social dimension of the group is a vital element of the group’s raison d’être.

We have now trained six Instructors (British Nordic Walking) and 20 Walk Leaders. All Leaders are National Trust Volunteers (Completing national Trust Training, which includes Safeguarding and GDPR, and all Leaders have a First Aid Qualification (paid for from Club funds or grants received)

We developed our websiteerddignordicwalkers.co.uk in 2022.

We also operate a closed Facebook site and publish a quarterly calendar of events that lists all our walks and special occasions, such as a teddy bears’ picnic and evening walks.

Our standing has evolved over the last six years and, despite the effects of Covid, we now have a membership of 160+ walkers actively participating across the three walks.

Volunteering and Training

We have a long-lasting association with the National Trust at Erddig, especially with the Volunteering Team led by Sue Jones. Cultivated links with Nordic Walking UK and British Nordic Walking, particularly regarding training (there are financial implications).

We use Wrexham Council for first aid training (again because of financial implications) and have developed a working relationship with AVOW – this has proved most successful in acquiring grant funding.

We maintain our £1 voluntary contribution as it is one of our unique selling points – we believe we deliver a “big bang for our buck”, but we are ever dependent on external grants to maintain our calendar of events.

A major factor in our success and development is the appointment and retention of key personnel. All group officers are volunteers, yet perform to a very high level and employ skills from previous experiences in various industries. These members are an essential element of the group.

Another factor that affects the group’s success is the democratic learning process. All members are canvassed regularly on the activities, events and locations where we walk. This gives us constant feedback, ensuring we are in tune with members’ wishes.

I have mentioned the benefits of Nordic walking regarding health, fitness and exercise, but it is also the social benefits of belonging to a group that attracts our members too.

The group offers a safe and secure environment and helps combat isolation and loneliness, social inclusion and social interaction that contributes effectively to mental health and well-being.

New Members

This group continues to flourish, and we hold new member induction and training sessions on the first Saturday of each month.

New members always comment on the welcome they receive from everyone and the friendly nature of members and the professionalism of the instructors and group leaders.

Successful grant bids have allowed the group to extend their subsidy of first-aid training, providing support for purchasing loan equipment for new members, transport for “away days”, and financial support to those less financially able to enjoy all aspects of the group’s activities and events.

Far too many quotes demonstrate the group’s success and the impact that the group has had on the individual.

Our motto is from some quotes from members: Exercise. Energise. Enjoy

Erddig Nordic Walkers

Have Your Say

This sums up the ethos of the group. Here is a selection from our last “Have your say” consultation in November 2022.

“This group has been a lifesaver for me. I have been supported by the most superb group of folk. I am healthier both mentally and physically (despite a cancer diagnosis) and have met incredible people. The group has grown so much but in a good way. The leaders give so much of their time graciously.”

Marion Campbell (November 2022)

Observations of a newbie: “Thanks for being as you are. I admire a structure in which you know there is a ‘joining process’ and a ‘belonging feeling’. It’s nice to feel confident in the organisation protocols that reduce risk, reassure and permit participation.”

Charles Jenkins (Nov 2022)

“Well done to all group leaders. Lovely walks, good company and all home safely

Anon (Nov 2022)

“Excellent, well-run organisation. Good variety of walks.

Helen and Lilian (Nov 2022)

To keep up to date with the community, click here.

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