Diana Hinns, 51 from Dipton in County Durham who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for her charity and volunteer work, has praised the Leisureworks GP referral scheme for enabling her to maintain a healthy lifestyle and remain active.

Her work includes regular volunteering at the National Trust property in Rowlands Gill and also knitting hundreds of items for charity which are often sold in raffles and auctions.

After seeking help from her GP in order to find ways to prevent joint pain and increase her overall stamina to ensure she could continue with her busy schedule, Diana was referred to the scheme at The Louisa Centre in Stanley.

“I was looking at finding ways that I could move about more and keep active and since I walk with a stick and suffer from joint pain, it’s difficult to find something that would be suitable. When I was referred by the GP to the Louisa Centre I was particularly interested in the swimming sessions, and thought it would be great opportunity to get involved in some exercise.”

British Empire Medal Diana HinnaCoaches Christine and Amanda ensured that Diana was able to access the pool safely and developed an individual programme of water-based exercises suitable for her disability.

“The coaches were so helpful and they even get into the pool with you at the start and show you what to do and how to do it. I require the disabled steps to get in and out and they made sure these were available for me. It’s a very flexible pool and accommodates people who may need an extra helping hand very well.”

On completion of the scheme, Diana championed the addition of extra sessions so that those who had completed the 12 week scheme could continue to progress and enjoy exercise in the environment where they felt comfortable.

“At the time there were no sessions that I could take part in after the programme had finished, other than the ordinary public swim sessions, however after discussing with Bobby Hewitson the Lifestyle Manager at Leisureworks how we could work together, a new session was added to the programme. It became so popular that another two classes were added once funding became available – which was great!”

Another one of Diana’s main motivations for continuing with the exercising, was the social interaction with others at the sessions who also showed support when she received her British Empire Medal in September:

“The people I have met through the scheme are all great and everyone is so welcoming – especially when someone new joins. The whole swimming group and some staff from The Louisa Centre came along to a celebration event when I was presented with my British Empire Medal at Gibside. It was a great support and we had a brilliant time.”

Diana is determined to continue taking part in exercise and fits it around her busy schedule of helping charities.

“I’ve also got lots more stamina and energy now which is great and enables me to get about and continue my charity and volunteer work. It’s also so much easier now to use the stairs!”

I’m keen to continue to keep my weight healthy – I’ve been invited to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party in May and I’ve already bought my dress so I’ll be making sure I can still fit into it by then!”

For further information about the Leisureworks Exercise on Referral Scheme, visit www.leisureworks.net or contact Bobby Hewitson on 01207 218 872.

Leisureworks’ Exercise Referral Scheme is a 12 week structured support programme of physical activity and is funded by Durham County Council Public Health. It provides a structured pathway into a more active lifestyle in a safe environment.

The project is part of the Move4Life programme, supported by Durham County Council Public Health and County Durham Sport. It aims to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in County Durham through increased physical activity.

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