Members of Fareham and Gosport Breathe Easy Group said an emotional farewell last week to a physio who inspired the creation of the group.
Kathleen Tollerfield, 23, from Fareham, spent two years working with the group as part of the pulmonary rehab physio department at St James’ Hospital.
Now she is leaving to complete her physiotherapy qualification at Southampton Solent University, so the exercise group, based at Gosport Leisure Centre, had a farewell celebration for her.
She was presented with flowers, sweets and a joke book, but as she loves anything to do with Christmas, many people donned their Christmas hats and some even dressed up in the full outfit.
Kathy has seen the group’s physical movement improve as well as their mental well-being and the presentation last week brought her to tears.
She said: ‘It was a complete surprise, I didn’t expect them to do that for me.
‘I’ve been working with them for two years and to realise how much they appreciated me was a nice feeling.
‘It’s been very rewarding and I’ve enjoyed it. There were only 10 members when it started and now it’s 40.’
Chris Staples, who started the Breathe Easy group, said: ‘She’s excellent doing the exercises and has a lovely manner, which gives people confidence and encouragement.
‘It was through talking with her that I was persuaded to start the group in Gosport and Fareham.
‘In the early stages she gave me so much help and support.
‘I was virtually a one-man operation to get it started and she publicised it through her groups and helped keep me going.’
He added: ‘Thanks again for everything, we all feel she’s a very special young lady who deserves a lot of recognition for all that she has given.
‘When you see people arrive who have virtually given up moving about and, through her and the other physios’ work these people are now out and about, so positive in themselves, it’s difficult to put a price on that.’
Kelly Hull, a physio at St James’ Hospital, said: ‘Kathy’s been an absolutely fantastic asset to the team.
‘We’re very much going to miss her. The Breathe Easy group are exceptionally fond of her.
‘I’ve never seen her so speechless, she was completely surprised.
‘They had a really good send-off for her, with flowers and a bad joke book.’