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Last night we celebrated yet another wonderful year of Nordic Walking Watford. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us and here are the award announcements for those who were unable to be there.



Well last year I was very much in competition with another important event but this year I get you all to myself  – so firstly I would like to thank you all for being here. Tonight is always about YOU – a celebration of all that you have achieved, both individually and collectively as our brilliant club, Nordic Walking Watford.


Looking back over the year is always a real treat for me. It’s too easy to forget what we have achieved over the past 11 months – but those special moments enable growth and help shape who we are. As an instructor with Nordic Walking Watford it is both an honour and a pleasure to be part of that journey with you.


So, this year was as action packed as ever, with Challenge 23 underpinning our regular walk programme and each month a different goal to aim for.

We kicked off the year with a fantastic trip to the Black mountains and continued adding variety to our Nordic Walks with Forest School and ice dipping, Wassailing and easter bunny hunts, Bluebells and alpacas, art workshops and floating markets, the summer solstice and the waters of the river chess, st albans half marathon and the willow 10k, and finally ghosts and ghouls and remembrance Sunday.


We sadly said goodbye to our Kallie as a walk leader as she headed to Devon for pastures new. And then we welcomed Pearl as she completed her walk leader training in the Autumn.


And so here we are at the end of an amazing year, truly grateful to be together and celebrating Nordic Walking Watford.


We are very much a team effort and there are some very special people I would like to thank tonight.


Jackie – Jackie kept us sane through lockdown with her amazing online yoga sessions and she continues to provide these sessions once a week. They are a really brilliant addition to our programme and we are very lucky to have her. These sessions also enable friends from different places in the country to stay in contact with us. Thank you Jackie.


Moving on to our walk leaders – Ann, Fiona, Caroline, Jo, Catherine, Tina, Pearl, Heather and also obviously those who aren’t here tonight, Liz, Lyn, Lesley and Alison.

Thank you all for your commitment, your support, your loyalty and above all your passion for Nordic Walking and our club. These amazing people continue to embrace and represent the very essence of Nordic Walking Watford and they commit 100% to keeping you all safe and encouraging participation in our activities. And without them we really couldn’t offer the range of walks we do.

So the walk leader team – THANK YOU.



Cathryn – Cathryn very much provides an anchor for the team and is vital to the smooth running and efficiency of NWW. Cathryn keeps us all on track and I am so very grateful for all she does. Cathryn thank you so much for your commitment and dedication to everything behind the scenes.


Last but certainly not least, Gary. Having another instructor on board enables us to grow and provide courses to so many more people and organisations. Gary is a brilliant instructor and shares my passion for Nordic Walking and everything we provide at NWW. Thank you Gary.


And so I give the Nordic Walking Watford team!


As we move into 2024 we are able to maintain our offering of 20 walks per week and we now have around 120 walkers out with us each month. We also look forward to welcoming Caroline as a third instructor with us in the near future.


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. Next year will bring a new challenge too, and each month I will set a goal for you to focus on and work towards.


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.




Last year we said goodbye to NORDIC WALKER OF THE YEAR and welcomed our NWW colours – coloured ribbons representing a different number of completed walks.

I’m delighted to see the ribbons adorning poles and backpacks as we zip around Watford.

So far we have awarded :

  • 84 red ribbons for 25 walks
  • 52 orange ribbons for 50 walks
  • 26 yellow ribbons for 100 walks
  • And 4 green ribbons for 200 walks.
  • And Who will be first to gain our blue ribbon for 350 walks?

Congratulations to all of you for gaining your colours.


Candidates for the next few awards are decided by the walk leaders and I. It is always a very difficult choice because we have so much potential within this group. And we will be announcing the nominees as well as the winner in each category.



Most Improved Nordic Walker

Our most improved category encompasses the technical aspects of Nordic Walking and improvements demonstrated in all areas including pace and distance.


Our nominations in this category are:

  • Erika Cable
  • Paula Williams – Bowen
  • Alison Woods

And the winner is someone who is quietly determined but enthusiastic about the difference that Nordic Walking has made to her life : Paula Williams Bowen.

She can’t be here tonight but I will ensure she receives her award.


Spirit of Nordic Walking Watford

This category encompasses the very ethos Nordic Walking Watford and what it represents, and is awarded for qualities such as attitude, enthusiasm, inclusion, kindness, determination and commitment.


Our nominees in this category are:

  • Bob Wiggins
  • Caroline Faulkner
  • Liz Defries

And the winner is someone who shows remarkable kindness, compassion and patience to fellow walkers, and is always understanding and supportive – it’s Liz Defries.



And lastly, our final award – Anniversary Challenger of the Year – destined for someone who has truly embraced the challenge year at Nordic Walking Watford


The nominees in this category, chosen because they were the only two walkers who completed every challenge this year, are:

  • Jeanette Reece
  • Angela Churchman


And actually it was difficult to choose – they both stepped up with enthusiasm to each challenge, adapting it to their ability and circumstances – but equally stepping outside their comfort zone. So our challengers of the year are Jeanette Reece and Angela Churchman.




Our chosen charity for the last year has been the WILLOW FOUNDATION, a charity set up in 1999  by Bob and Megs Wilson, as a lasting legacy to their daughter, Anna. Their vision, support and dedication has offered quality of life and quality of time to more 20,000  young adults aged 16-40 facing serious illnesses.

Megs sadly passed away last week and we offer our condolences to the whole team at Willow who continue her vision through their grief.


It has been an honour to support Willow this year, not only with our car boot cafes and challenges,  but also by sharing our love of Nordic Walking with some of their team.

Nordic Walking Watford you are amazing and thank you so so much for your generosity – we have raised an outstanding £4,327!!!


Here is a message from Lisa and Mark at Team Willow:


It has been such a pleasure to work with, walk with, and meet some of you this year – how quickly the year has flashed by!

We admire your shared enjoyment of good health, friendships, community spirit and the great outdoors.

To add to that, your charity fundraising activities have truly impressed us.

Thank you for making a difference to seriously ill young adults at a time when they need it the most.

We are very grateful for your support this year, you have made a wonderful addition to Team Willow and we hope to see you at some of our events going forwards.

Keep in touch and thank you all once again


That brings us nicely to our charity for 2024.

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 – as every charity is deserving of support and recognition.


However, the charity we will supporting in 2024 is RENNIE GROVE PEACE HOSPICE CARE.


Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care provide free, specialist care and support for adults and children with a life-limiting illness in Herts and Bucks. They support and empower people from diagnosis to live the best quality of life possible.

Whether it’s a life-limiting condition or a terminal illness, Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care can support people of all ages through our work in the community, in the home and at their Inpatient Unit. They also offer practical, specialist and emotional support for the whole family to help families spend quality time together when every moment matters.


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 2024.

Shine bright Nordic Walking Watford, shine bright!





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