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Berkshire's 'lockdown heroes' honoured for efforts to keep people active and improve mental well-being

Several candidates have been crowned ‘Berkshire Lockdown Physical Activity Heroes’ by Get Berkshire Active, for their efforts to keep people active and support mental well-being during the past 12 months.

A total of 29 individuals and organisations received the award and were commended for their achievements on channels such as the GBA website and BBC Berkshire.

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Windsor School Sport Partnership, led by Chantal Roe-Gammon, provided sports coaches to local schools allowing children access to structured exercise and high-quality physical education. The partnership supplied virtual programmes and competitions which encouraged young people to take part from home and promoted healthy habits.

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GoodGym Windsor & Maidenhead, with their 50 volunteers, assisted 27 charities over three months of the pandemic. Led by Amy Lovell, a local mother of four young children, their efforts helped hundreds of members in the local community in need of support. Projects included food delivery; helping vulnerable adults with chores; sorting clothes for babies and homeless people; marshalling drive through flu vaccinations and much more.

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Anisha Gangotra delivered dance and Zumba classes to over 4,000 people between April and November last year. People of all ages and backgrounds were able to get involved including those with disabilities, long-term health conditions, and mental health issues. Anisha also promoted positive health and mental wellbeing on TV, radio, and blogs including: ‘Humans of HIIT’; Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’; ‘We Are Undefeatable’ Instagram takeover; and Sport England’s ‘Join the Movement’.

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Charlie Hiscox provided live PE classes on Facebook and YouTube and tailored lessons for local schools which provided sport for the children of key workers. Special safety measures, including ‘Coaching During COVID’ training, reassured schools during this time. A COVID-secure camp also provided in-person activities for 45 children a day through the summer holidays. The activities boosted the confidence, connection, and mental health of coaches, teachers, and children.

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Shireen Higgins gave over 700 hours of her time to keep over 40 athletes, aged 11-18, active and positive during the pandemic. As a lead coach at Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow Athletic Club, she encouraged parents to let their children complete individual training in local parks. Shireen provided feedback, encouraged new goals, and through crowd funding, raised thousands of pounds to buy portable floodlights for training. After a successful application to England Athletics, she was able to organise a COVID-compliant middle-distance event, the first ever race for some athletes.

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O2 Gym Slough offered their support to over 1,000 people in the town including the O2 workforce and the people they live with. Live classes were moved online and recorded so people could take part from home and around other commitments. When permitted, the gym was transformed to enable socially distant, pre-booked, workouts. Activities helped relieve stress caused by working from home and benefited participants’ wellbeing.

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Damian Ng stepped up to run functional fitness classes on Zoom when SportsAble had to close due to the pandemic. Damian devised fully inclusive workouts for people with a broad range of disabilities and helped them maintain mobility for everyday tasks. 56 sessions, for 8-10 people at a time, ran from March to October. The two 45 minute sessions each week provided much needed social interaction.

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