Physical Activity Referral Scheme Testimonials

Winston Edwards (Age 72)

Winston Edwards, 72 from Kings pars-winston-1-.jpgLangley a keen photographer who enjoys walking (not the ten minutes round the block to the nearest newsagents, but the challenging peaks and descents of the beautiful English countryside, as well as further afield for walking holidays in Europe). It was during one of his walks that Winston first experienced a loss of balance and had to take cover during a rain storm. Following this first incident, the bouts of balance loss became more frequent and were accompanied by an increased inability to walk.

Due to the regularity of these health restraints, coupled with living with high blood pressure, Winston sought the help of a physiotherapist, who provided gentle stretches and mobility exercises to help improve his condition. His physiotherapist suggested he participated in the Physical Activity Referral Scheme (a 12 week programme delivered from four leisure venues in Watford and Three Rivers) to help improve his balance and to build leg strength to improve his walking.


pars-winston-2-.jpgWinston got in touch with Everyone Active, Watford Woodside, where he found the gym team helpful – ‘always willing to help’. Tracey Fowler, Winston’s referral instructor built a good relationship with Winton, who he commented was ‘thorough, patient and credible’. He was able to incorporate his own balancing and stretching exercises within the personalised programme created by Tracy, which ‘fitted his needs perfectly’.

Accessing the gym hadn’t been an exercise route Winston had considered before being referred on to the scheme. Despite having reservations during the first few gym visits; being faced with a large gym, filled with big machines, within an environment he was not used to; Winston was able to rebuild his confidence, as the environment became more familiar.

His advice to anyone embarking on a new physical activity journey is ‘not to be concerned’. He would recommend the scheme to others, as he feels good about himself for having participated. Medically he has seen a reduction in his blood pressure (from around 160/90 (at the beginning of January) to around 120/70 (at the beginning of July)); as well as an improvement in the distance he is now able to walk. He was pleased to share that he recently played softball with his granddaughter and intends to remain physically active now he has completed the scheme.

Gary Smith (Age 36)

williampenn-listimage.jpgGary Smith, aged 36, from Rickmansworth was encouraged by his family to join the Physical Activity Referral Scheme (PARS) run by William Penn Leisure Centre and Three Rivers District Council.

Gary has suffered from a rare condition called Autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (known as ARSACS), a condition that affects muscle movement. People with ARSACS typically have abnormal tensing of the muscles, difficulty coordinating movements, muscle wasting, involuntary eye movements and speech difficulties. Other problems can include deformities of the fingers and feet, reduced sensation and weakness in the arms and legs. An unsteady gait is one of the first systems of the condition and usually appears between the ages of 12 – 18 months, as toddlers are learning to walk.

Due to his condition unfortunately Gary was forced to give up his job as a Data Entry Clerk at Heathrow airport and also more recently had to stop driving due to the condition affecting his eyesight.

Keen to make sure he kept as active as possible Gary wanted to join a gym but was unsuccessful at finding a gym buddy. He visited his GP to find out more about the PARS referral scheme and if he met the criteria.

William Penn Leisure Centre have helped a number of customers through the PARS scheme helping them to engage in all levels of fitness.

Gary contacted the centre and attended a consultation meeting in January, with Kelly, a fitness instructor and one of the team at the centre. From the very beginning Kelly was extremely helpful and supportive speaking to Gary about what was available and ideas on how to get active. His induction and following weekly sessions allowed Gary to try out the range of equipment in the gym at the centre and find out what he enjoyed doing and what exercises he could do.
Over the past few months Gary is now able to use most of the equipment in the gym and regularly visits twice a week. To add to the PARS referral scheme Gary also enrolled the services of another member of the team, Des, a personal trainer, who has also helped develop his gym routine further using new equipment including Battle Ropes and Free Weights.

Kelly, Des and the team at the William Penn Leisure Centre have worked really hard with Gary to help push and encourage him to try out new things. Very recently Gary took a swim in the pool, which whilst being very hard work, was also very rewarding and shows that with determination anything is possible.

Gary’s family say ‘Visiting the centre and working with the team in the gym has opened lots of new doors and opportunities for Gary, helping with his health and wellbeing. He is now extremely confident and will try anything once’

Gavin Howard Business Manager “Its great to see the progress Gary has made and the difference exercise has made to his wellbeing. The PARS scheme and the great team at the centre have made his journey a success.’