Alun Williams has been encouraging the Bailiwick to be active and to enjoy healthy lifestyles for over thirty years, and this week has been particularly significant as Alun and colleagues from the Health Improvement Commission, Sports Commission and Traffic and Highway Services announced Guernsey’s first active, healthy Scorecard for young people.
Alun practices what he preaches as a participating, albeit slow runner (his words, not ours!) in many local events. He is ex-President of the Guernsey Athletics Club and has competed in more than 350 club races. An immediate target is to complete 100 marathons and half marathons by next year’s Father’s Day half marathon!
He’s also very proud that his family are equally active. Wife, Liz, is an all-year endurance swimmer (and supporter of their daughter Rosie who swam the English Channel this year). His three daughters Hannah, Tess and Rosie have also followed in their Dad’s footsteps as they all recently completed the London Marathon alongside Alun (pictured above).
We stopped him moving for long enough to tell us the five things Alun would change about Guernsey, and not surprisingly, there is a healthy and active theme to them:
Pictured: The 2018 Milk Run.
1) Make the front traffic free every Sunday
Our recently published active healthy scorecard showed that we have some work to do if we are going to be world leaders in helping young people be more active. We have seen lots of examples in recent years in schools and across the community where young people have become more active simply because they have had more opportunities to do so. One of the best ways to help young people and their families be more active is to give them the opportunity to walk, run and play on traffic-free roads. If we get everyone into that habit then we’ll get them travelling actively which is a good thing in so many ways – not least regarding activity levels.
Making the seafront car free on a few Sundays in the summer has been a great success so why don’t we do it every Sunday? In fact you could extend the car free area to include La Valette and the bathing pools. That would give lots of opportunity for families to enjoy the sea front on foot or by bike. We could also look at arranging more organised swims, bike rides and runs.
Pictured: Could Seafront Sunday become a more regular event?
2) Get more community organisations and businesses doing The Daily Mile
In little over a year we have seen a dozen schools take up The Daily Mile. The Daily Mile is a global initiative where nearly 7000 schools have committed to get young people out walking and running for a mile (well fifteen minutes actually). The benefits for our schools have been huge. Firstly it’s made young people fitter but that’s just the beginning. It’s also improved their ability and willingness to learn, improved relationships across the school and has been great for emotional health and wellbeing. The Daily Mile works because it is simple and fun. Youngsters just get up and go and do it at the pace that they want. Very importantly they do it with friends.
The benefits for young people would translate just as well for other community organisations especially offices. We spend too much time sitting and not getting exercise and a bout of fifteen minutes of exercise would make you fitter but your boss would also be pleased. We guarantee that you’d be fresher and better placed to undertake more difficult chores after exercise.
Pictured: Alun helps promote The Daily Mile in Guernsey.
3) Encourage more healthy restaurants in Guernsey
We are spoilt with lots of really great food outlets in Guernsey. The choice of hotels, restaurants and barfood is mouthwatering especially around Tennerfest time. And we shouldn’t underestimate what a big deal it is that we don’t have fastfood chains in Guernsey. It’s really good news that young people can avoid getting into a habit of burgers, chicken nuggets and fizzy drinks.
But it would really top us off as a centre of culinary excellence if we could encourage health food restaurants to set up over here. Lots of outlets offer increasing healthy options but I’d love to see some dedicated health food restaurant serving primarily, or exclusively, health foods, including vegetarian, organic, and low-fat menu options.
Pictured: More healthy eating options would be good said Alun.
4) Celebrate some of our older generation – and build a statue for Roger Allsopp
We are fortunate in Guernsey to have so many great role models, ambassadors and high achievers. That’s especially the case in sport and, for example, in my sport of athletics we are very proud of the past achievements of the likes of Tom Druce, Lee Merrien and Dale Garland whose efforts are being matched by our current crop of stars such as the Chalmers Brothers and Sarah Mercier. But we also ought to recognise that there is a whole generation of older sports men and women who are setting an example - just by keeping going. Again in my sport of athletics we regularly see athletes in their 60’s and 70’s lining up for our club races and who are as determined as their younger colleagues to do their best. Over the summer my daughter, Rosie, became the youngest Guernsey person ever to swim the English Channel at the tender age of 26 years. Witnessing close-up the effort that was required, especially in the years of training beforehand, made me aware quite how huge the achievement was. Rosie’s inspiration was Roger Allsopp who swam the Channel when he was sixty and then, amazingly, repeated the feat ten years later when he was 70 years old.
Roger’s effort and determination epitomise what can be achieved with a positive mindset that overcomes barriers such as getting older. Let’s celebrate that achievement with a statue which we can go and see down by the bathing pools on the car free Sundays that we are going to introduce!
Pictured: Roger Allsopp (image from Guinness Book of Records).
5) Give everyone the week off for the 2021 Guernsey Island Games - and let's get volunteering
It’s only 947 days to the start of the Guernsey Island Games 2021 (Saturday 3 July is start day!) and after the Gibraltar Games in July we can really begin to gear up for what is bound to be a memorable and special week. Now I’ve been to every Island Games since Guernsey in 2003 and I know I am biased but ours was definitely the very best, not least because we got so much of the community involved. I’m sure that we will do as well this time. We are good at organising events, have an excellent sporting structure and our community loves sport so all the basic ingredients are there. But let’s make the games special and ensure a legacy that really counts by getting the whole community involved in the week. There will be so many opportunities to volunteer and participate and it’s not just directly in sports. We are already discussing and planning for much wider community involvement through, for example, cultural activities and twinning initiatives. If we get everyone involved then the likelihood of them continuing to participate is much greater and therefore we see a lasting legacy.
To make sure we can fully immerse ourselves in everything wouldn’t it be great if workplaces and schools allowed everyone to participate fully in the week as volunteers, spectators or just proud islanders.
Pictured top: Alun Williams and his daughters.
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