Grants save day for walking group

Stopping for a photo on one of their Bluff jaunts are (back to front) Heather Swan, Ann Piercy, Margaret Bell, Norma Milkey and Nola Hardy, of the Tuesday Walk Group.

When PH Vickery Charitable Trust and Mee Henry Law fronted up with some much-needed operational cash, the Tuesday Walk Group was saved from extinction.

Tuesday Walk Group chairwoman Margaret Bell said the group had been struggling to secure funding to keep operating.

Funding was often difficult to secure because it was predominantly used to subsidise group travel expenses.

The bus travel was an essential part of the group’s activities, as many of the more senior members did not drive.

Walkers with different walking abilities would be dropped off at three different distances and would meet up again with the bus at the end.

Walking locations frequently included destinations outside the city boundary, such as Winton, Riverton, Gore, Wyndham, Omaui and Bluff.

Each Tuesday up to 36 people would meet to take leisurely walks around “some of the most beautiful places in Southland”.

The group had become a crucial social connection for many seniors, especially since Covid-19 had entered the community.

“In this time of Covid, it has become even more important for them.”

It was an opportunity to break out of the isolation seniors often experienced on a daily basis.

The group started 40 years ago under the YMCA umbrella but had taken on the Tuesday Walk Group name more recently.

The group had people attending between the ages 65-91 but the group was open to everyone.

Age Concern Southland manager Janette Turner co-ordinated raising sponsorship for the group as she thought it would be disappointing to see it closed down.

She believed the aims of the group “ticked every box in the wellbeing” – mentally, socially and physically.

The group catered for all walking abilities and age groups which made it possible for most people to join their activities.

“It’s something that gets them out of the house and connected with others.

“They’re a pretty strong group that look after each other,” Ms Turner said.

Mee Henry Law director Liz Henry said they sponsored the walking group because they were impressed with the group’s positive goals and concept.

“That concept might be as simple as never having to walk back to the bus but, more importantly, perhaps it is about a community of who walk and talk together positively and make friends while doing so,” Ms Henry said.

Mrs Bell said the group started again in February and meets each Tuesday at 9.30am outside the Pipe Band hall on Elles Rd, should anyone want to join them.