If you are thinking about getting out and about in the open air, here are some people with Warley Woods connections to inspire you.

From twinkles to action

It is so easy to think that things just happen, but someone had to make them happen. For example, it is quite normal for a park to have a walking group, or for there to be a running club, but these activity groups didn’t just spirit themselves into existence, they had to be an idea in someone’s head, a twinkle of an idea that didn’t just pass unheeded.  That person also had to take action and more often than not find other people to work with them.

Striding Out

The Sandwell Stride group at Warley Woods was started by Jenny Middleton in 2007. She had noticed that a set of leaflets promoting walking routes in Sandwell were being developed and wondered if there could be one for Warley Woods which would encourage people to visit.  This led to her taking up training as a walk leader, by another Warley Wooder, Andrew Wood.  She then led the Stride Walks for a while herself, but encouraged others to train too – John Talbot was first I think, known locally to many and sadly no longer with us.  Then Jenny Piper and then Winston Walker.  All Trust supporters.  http://bit.ly/wwstride

Winston has been an amazing force in making the Stride group so much more than just a walking group, with social activities, healthy eating talks and fundraising for the Trust. He has expanded into offering Nordic walking too.  If you join the Stride group on one of their Thursday walks (meet at 10am at the Pavilion) you will find much much more than a friend or two to walk with.  This is one of the reasons that Winston was awarded the Dick Marsh Volunteer Award in June this year.

Pacing Out

There were two Dick Marsh awards presented this year and the other was to Nigel Lloyd. Another true Warley Wooder to the core of his being.  But Nigel has more than one passion and while one is Warley Woods, the other is running.  He saw so many people running alone in Warley Woods and felt that this could be more than the camaraderie from the odd runner’s greeting (brief lift of the hand to acknowledge the other runner, as you have to conserve the breath it would take to say anything for cardio exertion). 

Nigel put posters up to announce “The Hangover Run” to take place on the 1st January 2007, thinking he would just run alone if no-one came.  But come they did and a community of runners was formed.  He tells me it had a few false starts but it is now a strong supportive, award winning, running club – The Warley Woods Pacers, with trained coaches offering advice.  It keeps its ethos today as a really welcoming club, encouraging new runners and supporting everyone at every level.  http://bit.ly/wwpacers

Going the distance

At the Trust we have been communicating a lot about Repton and Galton this year, but there is another historical figure of interest with a connection to Warley Woods. I’ll say at the outset, that I have absolutely no evidence at all that he ever came to Warley Woods – but I still think he is inspiring.  I present to you Captain Robert Barclay-Allardyce. As far as I can work out, he was Lucy Galton nee Barclay’s (Samuel Galton Junior’s wife) half brother.  His most famous feat was the walking of 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours for 1,000 guineas in 1809. He is considered the father of the 19th century sport of pedestrianism, a precursor to racewalking. I love to think that he might have practiced for his competitions in Warley Woods!  http://bit.ly/wwcaptain

My personal inspiration

Those of you who have met me in person would probably realise that I have struggled with my weight for much of my life. In my 12 years at Warley Woods I have gone up and down the scales many times and sadly more up than down.  Then just 12 months ago, I decided enough was enough.  I got a grip of my eating and for exercise I started to walk every lunchtime in Warley Woods.  The inspiration of walking in nature reminded me of a previous love of running.  I had told Nigel Lloyd that my running days were over but I am so pleased that I was wrong.  

I’ve now lost almost four stone and have been maintaining my weight through the summer – normally my problem time of year. I have gone from my fattest ever, to my fittest ever – thanks to the inspiration of Warley Woods. In gratitude I will be running the Birmingham Half Marathon on 14th October, as a personal goal and to raise funds for the Woods.  If you love Warley Woods.  If you sponsor me, you can even track me on the day to make sure I complete it!

Viv is running the Birmingham Half Marathon in support of Warley Woods Community Trust on 14th October 2018.     Please sponsor her, to help keep Warley Woods a beautiful environment which will continue to inspire other walkers and runners