The Elmore Walking Group celebrated its 10th birthday today with a four-kilometre stroll and morning tea.

The Bendigo Community Health Services supported group walked four-kilometres through the town and along the picturesque Campaspe River to mark the occasion.

Walking group founder and now Bendigo-based BCHS strength training facilitator Aileen O’Brien returned to lead the celebration walk.

BCHS CEO Kim Sykes congratulated the group before walkers Lesley Edmondston and Sam Dalton who have been with the group since the start cut a special 10th birthday cake.

Lesley said the social aspect of the group was what kept bringing people back each Tuesday and Thursday.

“It’s been wonderful for Elmore and wonderful for us to be part of it,” Lesley said.

“We’re all happy to do what anyone else is doing … we’re not in a continuous race. You walk to your pace. Some people go on, some people catch up and we get our exercise.

“We get our mouth exercise as well as our bodily exercise,” Lesley laughed.

Lesley said Healthy Lifestyles program facilitator Sandra Holmberg was ‘amazing’ in co-ordinating both the walking group and strength training.

“There’s so many different personalities and she never changes… she’s always happy, always upbeat. You can talk to her with a problem if you’re finding an exercise too hard and she doesn’t make you feel like a dill because you can’t do it. She’s very down to earth.”

Sandra agreed the social aspect was the secret to the group’s success.

“Initially, people come for the exercise because they have been told to or they feel they need to … they continue to come because it’s so social and it’s good fun,” Sandra said.

“They walk with different people every time and they have the opportunity to meet locals.

“I actually get quite a few new people to town and it’s a way of them meeting new people in town. The group that we have got is so good… we have a lady who used to run the antique shop so she knows things to do and places to go so she gives them advice. Other people are into their craft so they’ll talk about craft or cooking, so there’s never anyone bored with the walk because there’s always someone different to talk to and they talk about different things.”

Sandra said the strength training program at Elmore was convenient for residents.

“We have people recovering from hip replacements or knee replacements. They come rather than go to Bendigo to do their physio exercises… they’ll get the physio to send me the exercises which is more convenient for them rather than travelling.

“If they did the exercises in Bendigo and finished their program in Bendigo it would stop whereas here they do their program for their rehabilitation but they continue because it is an enjoyable place to be.”

Another popular aspect of the walking group is the famous yearly ‘bus trip’.

“We have the bus here that we take but we often have to take two vehicles because everyone wants to come,” Sandra said.

Congratulations to all involved in the Elmore Walking Group – happy birthday!