Celebrating Nordic Walking Watford

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Last night was our NWW Christmas Social and as usual, I prepare a “speech” to celebrate all that is wonderful about Nordic Walking Watford.

I know that some of you weren’t able to join us so I wanted to share my speech with you all – because you all deserve recognition and celebrating. So here it is – grab a cuppa, settle in and thank you for being part of NWW.


It’s hard to believe we are coming towards the end of 2021 and when we met “virtually” for our Christmas social last year, I imagined the world would be back to normal and Covid would be a distant memory by the time we met again for our Christmas social this year.

We started 2021 back in lockdown but at least we were able to walk in pairs and our walk buddy system was a huge success. A good number of us took part in the 2800 squats challenge in February and 45 people signed up for our Walk 1000 miles challenge. Gary completed his training with NWUK and joined the team as a new Instructor. And in April we were finally back with our amazing group walks.

From bat walks to beautiful bluebells, stunning tulips and fragrant elderflowers, delicate butterflies and awesome Orchids, our Chess Valley challenge, walking festivals, meeting Authors in our Bookclub, fabulous fireworks, haunted Halloween walks and festive tree decorating – we’ve packed a lot into 2021 and certainly made the most of the times when we could walk together.

And so, as we near the end of the year, with Covid, ever-present in our lives, I am truly grateful to be here with you all and celebrating Nordic Walking Watford.

Tonight is about celebrating you – so thank you all so much for being here.

Nordic Walking Watford is very much a team effort and there are some very special people I would like to thank tonight.

Jackie Holden – I’d like to thank Jackie who continues to provide our virtual Yoga sessions which are a really wonderful addition to our programme and enable friends from different places in the country to stay in contact with us.

Ann, Fiona, Caroline, Kallie, Jo, Catherine, Liz, Lyn, Heather, Alison, Lesley, Tina and Laura – thank you for your commitment, your support, your loyalty and above all your passion for Nordic Walking and Nordic Walking Watford. Without you, we couldn’t offer the range of fabulous walks we do – and I am super proud of the walk program which we now have.   These guys continue to embrace all the changes that we have to adopt and they commit 100% to keep you all safe and encouraging participation in our activities.   So from the bottom of my heart, the walk leader team– THANK YOU.

Cathryn Barnett – Cathryn very much keeps me on the straight and narrow! Nordic Walking Watford runs as smoothly and efficiently as it does because of her skills and enthusiasm. The new website this year has certainly kept up both on our toes but knowing Cathryn was right beside me was so reassuring and I couldn’t run Nordic Walking Watford now without her. Cathryn thank you x

Lastly – our new Instructor Gary Ansell. Having Gary on board is a breath of fresh air! It has given us more flexibility with our walk programme and enables us to expand our training courses. It enables me to bounce new ideas around and Gary brings a renewed enthusiasm and skills. Thank you Gary x

So as we move into 2022 we are now offering 21 walks per walk and we have around 90 walkers out with us each month.    It is fantastic that so many of you are getting out and enjoying all the benefits of Nordic walking – and of course that includes the mental as well as the physical benefits… and we absolutely love to hear of your personal achievements so please make sure you let me know, as well as any goals you may have for the coming year.

2022 will mark the 10 year anniversary of Nordic Walking Watford and I have put together our ANNIVERSARY CHALLENGE – a series of 10 individual goals, each one representing 1 year of Nordic Walking Watford. They are all adaptable and achievable so please do sign up and celebrate with us in September.

Before we move on to our individual awards, I would just like to say – as I always do –  how proud I am of ALL of YOU! Whether you walk 50 miles or 2 miles, whether you walk 3 times a week or once a month, whether you crack a 15 min /mile or a 25 min/mile. You are out there Nordic Walking and I will always always be your biggest advocate.  


Announcing Nordic Walkers of the months:

Every month we celebrate those of you who have walked the most and through the year they are:

  • Jayne Chick
  • Lyn Emerson
  • Jeanette Reece
  • Angela Churchman
  • Jackie Holden
  • Gary Ansell
  • Lesley Frankish
  • Kallie Lees



Nordic Walker of the Year

With a massive 111 walks- which matches our previous record: Angela Churchman


Most Improved NW:

Our most improved category encompasses all aspects of Nordic Walking and what Nordic Walking Watford represents, and is awarded for qualities such as technique, determination, attitude, and commitment. Candidates for this award are chosen by the walk leaders and I. This is always a very difficult choice because we have so much potential within this group – and this year we have 3 very worthy winners.

The first is someone who has steadily improved technique, pace and distance with his walking. And he did so, just after coming out of lockdown when it would have been easy to stay within his comfort zone. He wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries and he now frequently joins in our post-walk coffee chats, offering friendship and humour to his fellow walkers. Sadly, he’s not here tonight but please show your appreciation for Geoff Salmon.

Our second winner is a lady who joined us in February 2020, just before lockdown. But she soon became absolutely committed to Nordic walking and despite many other things going on in her life, she always makes time to head out and get some miles in. She mixes determination and tenacity with good humour and a smile – and she always brings a little sunshine to a walk even on a cloudy day – she is Judy Stansell.

Our last winner is pure inspiration. Two years ago she suffered two separate strokes, just 2 months apart – and was left in a wheelchair. She was told she would never walk again. I met her in June this year and she started Nordic Walking, despite significant right-sided hemiplegia and difficulties with memory. I am in awe of her capacity to keep smiling a joyous smile when life is so tough for her. Her walking has improved significantly and she continues to persevere. I have nothing but admiration for her ability to grab life with both hands and beg me to play  “What’s the time Mr Wolf”. Again, sadly, she can’t be with us tonight – she is only 8 years old and should be in bed! Please-  let’s celebrate Tanvi Reddy Abbu.



Our chosen charity for the last 2 years has been the wonderful Hertfordshire Mind Network whom we have supported with our Car Boot Cafes and Challenge Events.

I have a personal message to read from their Fundraising Manager, Caroline McGoohan.

“On behalf of everyone at Hertfordshire Mind Network, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Nordic Walking Watford.    Your fundraising to date has raised an incredible £1,836.76 for and this money will be used to reach out to more people across Hertfordshire who are struggling with their mental health.  From the Chess Valley Challenge to the Car Boot Cafes, the Christmas bauble donations to the quiz nights and the virtual Zoom events to taking part in the 2.62 challenge – every penny you have raised will go to support local people.    

As we are all aware, these last 2 years have been like no other and the pandemic has impacted the mental health of many people, young and old.  Here at Hertfordshire Mind Network, we have continued to provide our services throughout so that we can be there for anyone that needs us during these challenging times. Without amazing supporters like yourselves, we wouldn’t be able to offer the diverse range of services that we do and we are very grateful for your support – THANK YOU.    

I hope that you have a lovely time this evening – wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”

That brings us nicely to our charity for 2022. As previously we put together a shortlist of charities and put it to you, our members, to decide who you wished to support next year. Always a difficult choice – every charity is deserving of support and recognition.

However the charity we will support in 2022 is PAPYRUS. PAPYRUS is a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. Their vision is for a society that speaks openly about suicide and has the resources to help young people who may have suicidal thoughts. This charity came to focus when #3dadswalking started their 300-mile walk. Three ordinary dads – Tim, Mike and Andy – who lost young daughters to suicide set off on an extraordinary journey to help spare other families the agony of losing a child. Their story is a truly heartbreaking one but together through walking and talking they have found a purpose. A very fitting charity for us to support so thank you.

And so to finish, I hope you have all had a fabulous evening and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. Enjoy!


Tracy x

Lead Instructor and Business Owner


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