Community sports programme ‘I Wish I’d Tried’ nominated for national award

Walking netball
Walking netball is among the sports that form part of the 'I wish I'd Tried' scheme

A community programme aimed at inspiring adults to get back into sport has been nominated for an industry award.

More than 3,500 people in Stockport have benefited from the ‘I Wish I’d Tried’ programme run by Life Leisure, which was launched by the charitable trust to inspire people aged 25 and over to get active.

Now it has been shortlisted in the ‘Community Involvement’ category at the National Fitness Awards, an annual event which recognises excellence and achievement in gyms throughout the country.

Ross McGuigan, ‘I Wish I’d Tried’ programme manager at Life Leisure, said: “We are thrilled to be nominated for this award.

“Our emphasis is on providing fun, non-intimidating activities to encourage more people who hadn’t taken part in team sports or physical exercise for a long time.”

“The project has engaged with 3,500 individuals over four years, with a total of 75,000 visits to the sessions.

“We have helped create welcoming social groups providing for people who just want to play and have fun, no matter what their age or ability. We are immensely proud of this programme and all the members who got back into fitness as a result.”

With activities such as tai-chi, ‘bat and chat’ table tennis and the hugely popular walking football and netball sessions, the scheme has been hailed a huge success, with more than 500 visits a week from around 350 participants.

And its work with mental health patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport has also been a triumph, providing a physical activity service that the patients are able to continue to access after they are discharged.

Originally funded though £250,000 National Lottery Funding, Ross says the biggest achievement is the sustainability of the sessions and model that will enable it to continue for the foreseeable future.

The National Fitness Awards are organised by Script Events in conjunction with fitness industry magazine Workout, with support from headline sponsor ServiceSport.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Athena, in Leicester, on Friday, November 30.