This is an archived press release
Monday 23 December 2013
Peak District National Park volunteer rangers were delighted to receive a certificate and £1,000 to help people with health problems to go walking in the countryside.
The presentation came after the Peak District's big-hearted band of nearly 300 volunteer rangers was named National Parks UK Volunteer Group of the Year for their work over the past 20 years in leading health walks for people with physical or mental health problems.
The £1,000 prize-money will be used to help re-start Next Steps Walks which had to cease when funding came to an end after NHS re-structuring earlier this year.
Next Steps Walks, run in partnership with Bakewell and Eyam Community Transport, are for people with enough confidence and strength to graduate to regular ranger-guided walks but who still need transport to get to them.
National Park health walks organiser Christina Porter said: "I'm extremely grateful to the volunteer rangers for their support for this cause. It will mean that we'll be able to provide transport for people to attend an additional 10 walks in 2014.
"Many of our ranger-guided walks are easy enough for people with less-severe health problems to tackle, and it's often only transport issues that prevent people from joining them."
Retired teacher Audrey Foster, 67, of Darley Dale, has been going on the walks since 1996 after a bout of manic depression. Now suffering from polymyalgia and having to use two sticks, she still loves to go on health walks as often as twice a month between February and November.
"The health walks have been invaluable to me," she said. "Apart from the exercise they offer companionship and they enable us to get to places we'd never normally visit.
"Most of us have medical problems, some are in their 80s, so transport is essential for us to get to the isolated meeting-points. I'm very pleased the rangers' donation will enable the Next Steps walks to continue in 2014."