In Gorleston, you can be green, get fit and help your community

A wooded area in Gorleston is being developed by volunteers as part of the 'green gym' project, encouraging locals to stay healthy and be outside.

The environmental organisation BTCV have been working on the project with Great Yarmouth Borough Council in the Beacon park area. The extensive space is in it's early stages of the project, with cutting back trees, making paths, and even making beetle hotels in the woodland on the agenda.

BTCV work on environmental projects throughout the country, the green gym, largely funded by People's Health Trust, being a central part to improve mental and physical well-being of local residents.

Councillor Mark Thompson who was trying out the gym said the project was 'fantastic' in staying fit in an enjoyable way.

Area manager of BTCV Marya Parker said: 'This is such a great opportunity for people to get outdoors, feel better, and be involved in such a worthwhile project. This area really needs work, in terms of both landscape, and health. Coming to the green gym is a fun way of not embarrassing yourself by being sweaty, and feeling good.'

The green gym runs transport from the town centre on Wednesdays, picking up volunteers between 12 and 1, and working on the project between 1 and 4.

The opening and closing parts of the sessions run like a fitness class, with warm-ups and cool-downs. But the majority of the other time is spent working on the landscape, transforming it into a usable space for the community.

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Mark Webster, Norfolk's health project officer, is clearly very excited. He said: 'There are so many possibilities here for people to get involved with, and such a great way to feel good, get out of the house, meet out people, and really make a difference to the area.'

Anyone over the age of 16 can join the project, but Mrs Parker expressed her wish to ultimately open the area up for school children to use and learn from. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust are also working with the project to bring in experts to help volunteers to identify species inhabiting the space.

Kevin Day, 54, a volunteer from Gorleston, found himself out of work and saw the green gym as a opportunity to try something different. He said: 'There's only so long you can trawl through job pages. Here I am outside, gaining some experience, meeting new people and supporting the community.'

Another volunteer, Mark White, 35 from Norwich said: 'We're clearing the wood area and making it more accessible. Who needs a gym when you can be in the fresh air, being active.'

If you want more information, then call Mark Webster on 07843069567.

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