Medics leading from the front – with 15 members of GP surgery taking on Fareham parkrun

Reception manager Hayley Barker and care co-ordinator Vicki Rowe-Shawyer. Picture: Peter Stoddard
Reception manager Hayley Barker and care co-ordinator Vicki Rowe-Shawyer. Picture: Peter Stoddard
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MEMBERS of a GP surgery are practising what they preach by taking part in a parkrun.

Staff at the Highlands Practice, in Fareham, are running the weekly 5k events in a bid to be more active, have fun and socialise.

It comes as Parkrun UK and the  Royal College of General Practitioners launched a parkrun practice scheme, urging medics to get involved.

Care coordinator Vicki Rowe-Shawyer has lost weight and improved her fitness since taking part.

She was recovering from two stress fractures and heel pain in both feet. Day-to-day walking left her in pain. Over 18 months Vicki started to become less active and gained weight.

She said: ‘In February, when I turned 39, I knew I had to improve my fitness and health. Slowly I started trying to walk a short distance. It was hard and I needed to have a couple of days rest in between walks. Gradually each month I increased the distance and started to feel healthier.’

After a few months Dr Jill Choudhury, a GP partner at the practice, mentioned parkrun. ‘I dismissed it at first as the word “run” put me off,’ added Vicki.

‘I had increased my walking distance but was definitely not at a running stage. Dr Choudhury explained to me that you don’t have to run, walking is fine – it’s the taking part that counts. To help me, she offered to walk my first parkrun with me.  

‘At first I felt a little self-conscious but everyone at parkrun is so welcoming. Everyone is treated the same.

‘As we set off we were walking at the back, not last though as there is always a tail walker who is there to support and encourage you.

‘The marshals cheered us on, people started to run past, but they all said “well done” and “keep going”. I was amazed by how encouraging they were.  

‘Finally 55 minutes later I had finished my first parkrun. I was pleased I managed the distance and the atmosphere left me feeling so ecstatic – I had caught the parkrun bug.’

They have found it good for socialising too.

Reception manager Hayley Barker said: ‘Taking part is not about how quickly you can finish, but it’s about the support and the teamwork.’

Now they hope patients in their practice join the team so they can do their bit to help prevent ill-health.

Dr Choudhury added: ‘We have 15 members of staff who regularly take part in parkrun and we are also encouraging patients to participate by walking aroundFareham.’

Find an event at parkrun.org.uk