A Port Soderick man has become the first Walk and Talk member to clock up 5,000 miles at social exercise sessions.
It was 15 years ago when Vincent Westwood, then in ill health, first turned to the Manx Sport and Recreation scheme to start getting regular exercise, and he hasn’t looked back since.
The Examiner caught up with Mr Westwood as the 85-year-old was finishing a brisk six-mile morning walk around the National Sport Centre’s athletics track.
‘I do five or six miles a time. I’m always the first out there, but at 85, that takes some doing!’ he said.
The Staffordshire native and former blacksmith admits without Walk and Talk he wouldn’t be in the shape he is now.
‘I’d had two heart attacks. After the second one I was advised to come down to Walk and Talk. I started slow and built up,’ he explained.
The regular sessions, held in locations around the island, are supported by the Department of Health.
‘I thought it was a waste of my time!’ laughed Vincent. ‘But if you’ve arranged to meet someone it gets you out of bed, and once I got started I wouldn’t miss it. My heart is OK now, no problem, I feel extremely fit. I’d advise anyone to come to Walk and Talk. You’re always encouraged to carry on, though nobody pushes you. You just come and do as much as you want.’
Vincent has made some good friends on the track and there were plenty of pats on the back as MSR’s Gianni Epifani presented the certificate, including from regular companion Ken Ashton.
‘I’m not a big talker, but we put the world to rights out there!’ said Vincent.
Gianni explained: ‘Walk and Talk started when I was asked to get more people aged 50 plus using the centre. I want to open to younger walkers too, or to people training for the Parish Walk. It’s a safe, well-lit area and you can easily keep track of how far you’ve covered.’
Vincent agreed: ‘I wouldn’t have been doing anything without Walk and Talk, just sitting around. I do a lot of gardening now too, it all helps. My general state of health must be improved. I go to the doctor to check cholesterol, and he says I haven’t got any!’