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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-02-09

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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The One Show's Michelle Ackerley races to support success of Southport volunteers and runners


THE One Show Presenter Michelle Ackerley paid a visit, on Saturday, 26 August 201, to Southport to celebrate a well deserved win for parkrun UK. They have been voted Best Sports project by public vote in the National Lottery Awards; the annual search to find the nation's favourite Lottery funded projects.

parkrun's Visually Impaired (VI) Scheme is a free 5km run held in parks across the country, providing an environment for visually impaired people to run safely and to socialise. Southport's volunteers have been the most successful in the UK at helping visually impaired people get active.

Michelle Ackerley said:- "Parkrun are passionate about increasing the number of active visually impaired runners in the UK. National Lottery funding has helped the programme continue and supported the wonderful dedicated volunteers who help people go running in their community regularly, safely and for fun. I am thrilled to present this award to them today."

An influential Southport volunteer is Dr Simon Tobin who has been instrumental in embedding guided runs and has been an engaging speaker at events. He said:- "There are around 1.5 million visually impaired people in the UK, less than 10% of them are regularly active. It is so important to support and encourage visually impaired runners to connect with the community and keep healthy. National Lottery funding has also helped parkrun to host taster days to introduce new visually impaired runners to the parkrun family"

Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England which awarded the National Lottery funding to parkrun, said:- "Sport England's research shows that visually impaired people are the least likely disability group to be active. This is a really imaginative way of changing that and enabling visually impaired people to become more active, both as runners and as volunteers."

So far, over 150 people with a visual impairment have started running, walking or volunteering at events. It's not just about the runners. Parkrun's VI scheme also focuses on encouraging more people to become volunteers who act as guides for visually impaired runners.

The winners of the seven National Lottery Awards categories will get a ₤5,000 prize, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star studded Awards ceremony in London broadcast on BBC One in September 2017.


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