Addicted to gambling

This week families who lost loved ones through gambling addiction took part in a protest march from Manchester to Liverpool via the cities’ famous football clubs to demand reform of the industry.

Journalist Lewis Finney, who works for the Bolton News, became so concerned about the problems of gambling in sport that he dedicated a masters degree thesis to the subject. Lewis, a Leeds Utd supporter, who did an MA in Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, created a podcast which made the top twenty in the football world. He explains why it matters and what’s at stake.

Lewis Finney

DID you know that, in the UK, 86 per cent of online betting profit comes from five per cent of customers? We call this minority ‘problem gamblers’.

Did you know that there are over 400 gambling-related suicides every year nationwide, the equivalent of over one every day?

Did you know that there are over 55,000 children in this country that are addicted to gambling?

Did you know that the Government pledged as part of their manifesto for the 2019 General Election to review the 2005 Gambling Act, with a major focus on sponsorship and advertisement within sport – specifically football?

Did you know that in the last couple of weeks as I’m writing this in early July 2022, there are now rumblings that Tory ministers are looking to dial back on how the reviewed Gambling Act will look?

I’m not a problem gambler, and I never have been. I place the odd bet on the football and have been known to go to the races and flutter some money away in the name of enjoyment. I have no issue with gambling as a concept.

I entered, and became sensitive to, the debate around the reform and re-regulation of the gambling industry for a somewhat selfish reason. In early 2020 I was searching for a topic for my dissertation project for my Masters in Multimedia Journalism – a podcast I eventually published under the name ‘Gambling and Football – A Complicated Relationship’.

Sport was my obvious go-to – football has been a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. Scrolling through Twitter one day, I noticed a report by the excellent Martyn Ziegler at The Times – ‘The biggest shake-up of gambling laws in Britain for 15 years could lead to restrictions of football clubs’ shirts carrying the names of betting companies’.

Bingo.

Gambling adverts in sport had been bothering me for years. Mostly because I found them annoying – interrupting every possible gap in a broadcast that did not contain people kicking a ball. And then when you start to look closer, even the kicking part is one huge advert. The rapid growth and insidious strengthening of the relationship between my beloved football and betting companies has been all to evident and noticeable for someone who grew up and gained a social consciousness during, and in the aftermath of, Tony Blair’s government – the less said about that administration the better, but it was they who deregulated the gambling industry, ultimately allowing it reach the point we are at now, with the gambling being ubiquitous within the game. You cannot separate one from the other.

Betting firms sponsor matchday shirts, training gear, stadiums and leagues. They advertise on television and radio broadcasts, on podcasts and social media, throughout stadiums and on pitch-side advertising hoardings, on post-match interview walls and in matchday programmes, on websites and on billboards. If you engage with football in any way, shape or form, there is quite literally no escape from the greedy, tempting arms of the gambling industry.

Now think for a moment – imagine, if you can, that you are addicted to an illicit drug. Let’s say heroin. Imagine your every waking thought is about how you can find your fix for that day. Imagine the dangerous and illegal lengths you might have to go through to get that sweet release that allows you to hold your demons at bay for a short while. Now imagine that heroin is not only legal, but it is readily available in your pocket, and you are actively encouraged to take it at every available opportunity. What do you think you would do? Because I’m pretty sure I’d be chasing that dragon.

While researching for the podcast, I spoke to various former problem gamblers, and this is the picture they painted. They call it the invisible addiction. There are no noticeable symptoms. No tell-tale signs that someone is suffering, and it’s extremely easy to hide it from even your closest friends and family. There is also a lot of shame attached to gambling addiction, which something that young men – the dominant demographic affected by this issue – often struggle to deal with. Thankfully, this sort of stigma is beginning to be addressed, but there is still much work to be done.

The more I researched and the more people I spoke to connected with both industries, the more I understood just how unfair it is. Not on me. Not on the vast majority of football fans. Not even on the vast majority of bettors. But on that 5 per cent, where the vast majority of the money is being made. The people who are borrowing money they cannot afford to pay back to fund their habit. The ones who, despite deciding to self-exclude themselves from betting apps, are still getting emails tempting them back in with a free bet. The ones who cannot simply switch on the game they love for a bit of escape from whatever stresses they have in their lives without being accosted by the gluttonous gambling gods.

I haven’t even mentioned children yet. A 2019 study found that just under half of young people (46 per cent) were able, unprompted, to name at least one gambling brand. I can use myself as a case study. My club, Leeds United, have had a succession of betting sponsors – previously 32Red, a name that most football fans and bettors in the Britain will recognise, and in the last few years SBOTOP, a gambling company that operates predominantly in Asia and is not even active in the UK – there’s a huge debate with regards to this there but that is for another time. Back when I was a child, Leeds’ shirts were sponsored by Strongbow cider, and subsequently by Whyte and Mackay whisky. I have a distinct memory of asking my parents what Whyte & Mackay was, and despite never touching a drop of Whyte & Mackay in my life, as far back as I can remember I could have told you that it was whisky, before I even really knew what whisky was.

There are some meagre attempts to protect children these days. If fans of football teams with betting companies sponsoring their playing shirts buy one in a child’s size it will display a different, non-betting sponsor. Forgetting for a second that a child wearing a shirt different to the adult version being worn by their immediate role models will likely feel othered and long for the betting clad variety, they will still be seeing all the same pushy advertising that everyone else sees on match day in stadiums or on the telly. They are being taught that betting and football are one.

My podcast goes into detail about the financial side of the relationship. The initial question I was attempting to answer was whether lower league clubs, specifically those in the Championship – at the time 17 of the 24 clubs in the league had their shirts sponsored by and gambling firm, in a league sponsored by a gambling firm – would be able to survive without the money from advertising and sponsorship from the gambling industry. Here’s a spoiler – they would survive. Many people are addicted to cigarettes. Some are addicted to alcohol. There once was a time that these industries ruled the advertising space within sports. Where are they now? That’s right, they have been banned. And guess what? Football clubs in England are richer than ever, mostly.

I don’t want get into the complex world of football finance, however, because this is about people – and you get that by listening to the podcast. When  Blair’s government came up with the legislation for the Gambling Act in 2005, they did so with the intention of making lots of money, pure and simple. However, that legislation was put in place with an eye on safety, and they had three aims – (1) to prevent gambling from becoming a source of crime and disorder, (2) to ensure gambling was being conducted fairly and openly, and (3) to protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited.

Although the government did not make the sums of money it may have liked seen as the majority of these gambling companies are based in tax havens like Malta and Gibraltar, those first two points can be considered a success. There is very little crime associate with gambling, and gambling is being conducted fairly and openly.

That final point though, the one about protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited. Well, it’s been an unmitigated failure.

With the announcement of the Gambling Act due imminently, and with reports suggesting that the overhaul that so many are calling for will not cut the mustard, I hope the above has reached at least one person as in love with football as I am and has helped them to re-evaluate the relationship between gambling and football.

The holy grail of parkruns

Off the southern tip of the Beara Peninsula in south west Cork, there’s an island called Bere. Eileen Jones went there to run her 300th parkrun

If you’re not captivated by the notion of a parkrun on a tiny island of the southern coast of Ireland, there’s no romance in your soul.

I’d never heard of Bere until late autumn in 2019, after the parkrun at Cliffe Castle in Keighley, when we were chatting to a woman who’d spent the summer touring Ireland in her campervan. Bere, she said, was her favourite, and having a fair sprinkling of romance in MY soul, I was hooked. I’m going there next summer, I vowed.

Only there was no next summer, nor the summer after, and sometimes I wondered if Bere was a dream, a mirage. But the urge grew ever stronger, and when I mentioned my quest, my holy grail, to my friend Eithne, she insisted on coming along. Not for the parkrun, but to trace her mother’s family, who came from Bere. Little did we know then that around 75% of the island’s population are O’Sullivans, and my quest was going to be a lot easier than hers.

Family history

Plans were made. And altered at the last minute when our first choice of accommodation was cancelled because the hosts tested positive for you know what. We flew to Dublin, picked up a hire car, spent the first night in an exotic yurt somewhere in the Glantee mountains, and eventually made it to Castletownbere, from where I could see that the island actually existed. On the Friday we made our first crossing, for the launch of a remarkable exhibition, The Hold, curated by artist Mary Sullivan, who had gathered a remarkable group of creative women during lockdown to provide photographic evidence of their favourite “things”, and a tapestry of individually embroidered squares reflecting their lives on Bere. One of them featured parkrun; it was already clear that parkrun is a very prominent part of life on the island, and that it’s also dominated by amazing women.

1656 parkruns between us:   Anne Marie Harrington the latest member of the 250 club (2nd from left) with Eileen, John Walsh (the only male Bere Islander in the club) joining Sheila Walsh, mother and daughter combination of Joanne Sullivan and  Finola Crowley.

(I’d been told from On High that we would have a wonderful time. Paul and Joanne Sinton-Hewitt had been here a few years ago, and said that we would fall in love with Bere. They sent their best wishes to all the friends they’d made here; at the moment they’re cycling to Rome, to St Peter’s from St Paul’s, Dome to Dome. Sorry, Bere parkrunners, I got it wrong, they still have another three days to go.)

Where’s that ferry?

Saturday. I was awake at 5.30, we were at the pier at 8.30 for a ferry not due to leave till 9. This was more than disconcerting for someone who lives in fear of Being Late for Anything, and often arrives at a parkrun before the team of course setter-uppers. I know Irish parkruns start at 9.30, but there was a bus to catch at the other side, too?

And sure enough, our “bus driver” was on the ferry, Colin Gleeson, a retired GP in the over-70 category (no secrets with parkrun, sorry folks), who subsequently came fifth. In an event where the first finisher was a woman, and so was the third finisher, with a schoolboy in second place. Also on the ferry was Maureen Power who had done her 100th the previous week. And by the time we got to the start at Rerrin village, the numbers were starting to add up. And up. Joanne Sullivan was about to run her 303rd. Ann Marie Harrington was doing her 250th that day. And Edel Murphy was about to run parkrun no 284 then dash back to serve teas and breakfasts in the Bakehouse Café.

For all the stats, see the results page, but this report is all about the people. They were the warmest and most welcoming ever experienced anywhere, and this was my parkrun number 300 in location number 123. (Eithne, having abandoned family history for the day, was doing her ninth, and was just as warmly embraced.) There was love abounding, for their island, for their parkrun, for their friends, for their visitors. Their warmth more than compensated for the lack of time to “warm-up”; here you get your second wind after the first hill.

It’s a fabulous route on a fabulous island. Tarmac-ish, on narrow tracks which sometimes had grass in the middle. Awesome views. Some of it’s actually on road, but at that time on a Saturday morning the only drivers among the island’s resident population of 168 would be either running the parkrun or volunteering. We came back down past the Military Drill Hall where Mary Sullivan was opening up her exhibition for the day, and then turned a tiny corner beside Murphy’s shop which houses the Bakehouse Café. I loved every single step of the way; PSH, you were right.

But it’s possible that I’d never have got there without Proinnsias O’Keefe. A man of considerable running ability with a facebook profile that looks like a Smurf. I’m not sure how we first made contact, maybe via the facebook parkrun tourist group, but Proinnsias knew the answer to every question. What time does the ferry run? How will we get to the start? What’s the weather forecast? Where should we go for dinner? A million thanks for your help, your kindness, your welcome, your lift back to the ferry when we wanted to stay on in the café after the mini-bus had gone back.

And thank you to all on Bere Island. So many of you told me your stories, about how parkrun had changed your lives; I promised I’d come back to the island for my 400th, so I’ll be back in another couple of years or so. But probably long before then.

Eileen Jones is the author of How parkrun changed our lives , Gritstone Publishing (https://gritstonecoop.co.uk/product/how-parkrun-changed-our-lives/)

Artist returns to teach in the Lakes

Budding artists are learning to paint in watercolour this weekend in the heart of the Lake District. And the tuition package has proved so popular that the organisers plan to run it again in the autumn.

Artist Ron Bailey is treating his weekend pupils to his expert advice and guidance at the Rydal Lodge Country House B&B near Ambleside.

It’s a perfect setting in the heart of Romantic Lakeland which has been inspiring artists for centuries.

Ron Bailey has been involved in teaching art to adults for more than 40 years, using watercolour, oil and acrylic, pen and wash. He paints mainly landscapes in a traditional style but also enjoys doing more contemporary work. He currently has work on display at a gallery in the north Lakes.

“Ron finds this to be such an inspirational place to paint,” says proprietor Helena Tendall, who runs the B&B with husband Mark. “He’s such a talented artist and we were thrilled when he offered to come and share his skills with our visitors. He’s run several weekend sessions already, and this one has been so popular we’ve already invited him to come back again in the autumn.”

Rydal Lodge, just north of Ambleside, is a riverside B&B set in beautiful grounds at the epicentre of the Romantic movement in the Lakes. Just across the road is Rydal Mount, once the home of the poet William Wordsworth. And also nearby is the picturesque Grotto, in the grounds of Rydal Hall, which was built specially for artists with a window onto a spectacular waterfall. It was designed so that painters could sit in comfort while they captured the view.

But Rydal Lodge is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the UK, from the tranquillity of Rydal Water and Grasmere to the majestic heights of Loughrigg fell and the Fairfield horseshoe range of mountains. It’s a dream setting for artists.

The next painting weekend will run from Friday 30th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022 and includes two days’ painting tuition, two days’ bed and breakfast accommodation and light lunches, and a non-painting partner can stay in the same room for a £40 supplement. Prices range from £302.50 for sole occupancy.

Bookings by phone or email only:  info@rydallodge.co.uk or 015394 33208

Learning to paint on perfect weekend break

VISITING the Lake District has inspired artists for centuries. But now those who want to learn how to paint can sign up for a dream weekend in the heart of Romantic Lakeland.

A weekend watercolour painting course is to be staged at Rydal Lodge, with bed and breakfast accommodation alongside two days landscape painting tuition with artist Ron Bailey.

The ideal place for artists to be inspired

Rydal Lodge, just north of Ambleside, is a riverside b&b set in beautiful grounds at the epicentre of the Romantic movement in the Lakes. Just across the road is Rydal Mount, once the home of the poet William Wordsworth. And also nearby is the picturesque Grotto in the grounds of Rydal Hall which was built specially for artists with a window onto a spectacular waterfall. It was designed so that painters could sit in comfort while they captured the view.

But Rydal Lodge is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the UK, from the tranquility of Rydal Water and Grasmere to the majestic heights of Loughrigg fell and the Fairfield horseshoe range of mountains. It’s a dream setting for artists.

“Ron has been here before and finds it to be such an inspirational place to paint,” says proprietor Helena Tendall, who runs the b&b with husband Mark. “He’s such a talented artist and we were thrilled when he offered to come and share his skills with our visitors. He’s run several weekend sessions already and they have been a great success.”

Ron Bailey has been involved in teaching art to adults for more than 40 years, using watercolour, oil and acrylic, pen and wash. He paints mainly landscapes in a traditional style but also enjoys doing more contemporary work. He currently has work on display at a gallery in the north Lakes.

“With all groups I try to generate the right atmosphere during a teaching session because I’ve found that the social element is valuable to many of the participants,” he says. “Gentle humour is often welcomed.”

The next painting weekend will run from Friday June 3 to Sunday June 5, and includes two days’ painting tuition, two days’ bed and breakfast accommodation and light lunches, and a non-painting partner can stay in the same room for a £40 supplement. Prices range from £260 for sole occupancy. There’s always the possibility of booking for the Thursday (extra bank holiday) as well.

Bookings by phone or email only:  info@rydallodge.co.uk or 015394 33208

Landscape painter Ron Bailey

Celebrating sport and community in Morecambe

A celebration on the promenade at Morecambe brought together a host of sporting celebrities on the third anniversary of the town’s parkrun. But the event was about much more than running, or sport, as the community came together to raise awareness of mental health issues and inclusivity.

At the heart of the celebration was the unveiling of a plaque, embedded into the promenade, by the founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Begun back in 2004 when 13 people ran 5k round Bushy Park in London, parkrun now has more than seven million people signed up worldwide, operates in 22 countries, and is still free, for everyone and anyone to walk, jog or run, every Saturday morning.

Visitors included Graham Hicks, the former world champion strongman who hails from Morecambe (and ran the route with one of his daughters on his shoulders), members of the Morecambe Ladies and Girls football club, Morecambe and Lancaster Open Water Swimmers, and Morecambe Community Runners.

This group, established by Stuart Nevin to encourage people suffering from addiction, depression, physical and emotional stresses to get into running as a form of exercise, with the aim of giving people space and support to “clear their heads and connect with others”, won the 2021 North West Community of the year award for supporting people to improve their mental health through running.

Playing a key role on the sidelines was the local Bay Medical Group who are working with parkrun to promote physical activity as an antidote to many health problems and issues, and whose GPs are actually prescribing parkrun in some instances instead of medication. They also contributed to the cost of the plaque. Also there were representatives from the Samaritans, and Alzherimers Research UK.

David Hewitt and Paul Sinton-Hewitt

The event – and the commissioning of the plaque – was organised by David Hewitt, one of the core volunteer team at Morecambe Prom parkrun, who has a background in many different sports.

He said: “We are very proud of our town and the sporting celebrities who have come from here, and we are thrilled with the way that our own parkrun here has become so popular in the last three years.

“But we know that parkrun has become much more to so many people than just a sporting event. There are those who say it has changed their lives, even saved their lives. And that applies to the volunteers as well as the particpants.”

Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who was running the Morecambe event for the first time with his wife Joanne, had no grand, all-encompassing plan to create a global phenomenon. “I simply invited some of my friends to the park because I was injured, and lonely. I was solving a problem for myself.”

But what began as an excuse to be with his friends, became something with worldwide impact. “I had a need to be active, outdoors and social. What I didn’t know was so that so did everybody else. parkrun brings people together in a way too often overlooked by modern society, in a way that empowers the most wonderful aspects of the human spirit.

“It offers everyone the opportunity to be involved in something positive that is constructive and joyful, to be part of their community, and to contribute to the health and happiness of their fellow humans.” Paul was awarded the Albert Medal by the Royal Society of Arts for building a global participation movement.

“We wanted to find a permanent way to celebrate sporting achievement at any level, and we couldn’t think of a better time to do so than on a Saturday morning when parkrun is enjoyed by so many people here,” said David Hewitt.

Most of the funding for the plaque – and a smaller one at the turn-around point of the parkrun route – came from Morecambe BID, along with David Hewitt, Debra Bunting, and Graeme Moorby, as well as the Bay Medical Group.

World championship comes to Ambleside

A world championship event is to be staged at Ambleside Sports for the first time this summer.

Organisers have learned they have won the bid to host the Ladies All Weights world championship in Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling.

The Sports, being staged for the first time since 2019, will be held on the field at Rydal on Thursday July 28. Wrestling is always one of the major attractions at the event, which also features hound trailing, fell running, track cycling, children’s races and much more.

The current world champion, who has held the title since 2019 because of the pandemic, is an Ambleside favourite, Connie Hodgson. She has competed at the Sports on many occasions and is now a popular ambassador for wrestling, working with children in schools across the county.

Connie interviewed by Helen Skelton for BBC Countryfile at Ambleside Sports. Photos: Steve Ashworth

She was also a flag-bearer for Ambleside on a trip to London in 2016 when the Sports organised “flash-mob” wrestling bouts at notable landmarks across the city.

President of Ambleside Sports Mr Jak Hirst said: “This is a great coup for us, as our Sports returns to be even better than ever. We are very proud to hold a world championship event.”

Tickets for the event will go on sale shortly.

Ambleside Sports ground

Wild women and a parkrun legend to headline at Cumbrian festival

The Wonderful Wild Women are taking over the main stage at this year’s Eden Escape Festival. The community, who aim to empower women of any age or experience to get out and appreciate nature and have adventures will lead activities, on the opening night at the end of May.

And a leading figure in the parkrun world, Tom Williams, will be a keynote speaker on the Saturday. Tom, who is Global Chief Operating Officer at parkrun, will appear at the family-friendly weekend festival in Cumbria which has fitness and adventure at its heart. There’s also camping and music, running and swimming sessions, yoga and adventure films, and children’s activities.

Tom Williams and son Aston on parkrun volunteer duty

Tom will be joined on the inspiration stage by writer Steve Chilton and adventurer Ross Brannigan. Steve is the author of a number of books including It’s a Hill, Get Over it;  All or Nothing at All (the life of fell-runner Bill Bland); and Running Hard, the story of the rivalry between running champions John Wild and Kenny Stuart. He’s currently working on a book about women runners.

Ross is a Scottish runner, writer and environmentalist with a passion for adventures in wild places. His first book Running Adventures Scotland has just been published, which features 25 inspiring running routes through some of Scotland’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

Ross Brannigan

The talks will be on the Saturday afternoon at the Eden Escape Festival will be held at Mains Farm, Kirkoswald, on the banks of River Eden in the northern Lake District at the end of May. It’s organised by Wiz Lees and Leigh-Ann Newburn, from Shap, and Keswick-based wild-swimming guru Ali Phillips.

Wiz is a personal trainer and fitness instructor, and Leigh Ann teaches yoga, and together they created Fox Red Events to organise the festival, which had a small-scale launch in 2019. After two years hit by the pandemic, they’re planning to offer adventures on a local level and a staycation experience for the whole family. Ali, a well-known blogger for Girl About the Lake District, will be bringing her expertise to the river-swimming side of the adventures.

Staged at the farm camp site, the festival promises a real escape from the ordinary, a time to get away from it all, spend time together outdoors, getting active and enjoying great company and great food.

Wiz Lees said: “We are delighted that the inspirational Tom Williams will be joining us. He represents the parkrun ethos, to make the world a healthier and happier place through their free, weekly 5k events. That fits perfectly with our aim here, to offer open-air adventures at a local and sustainable level.

“Steve and Ross also share our obsession with being outdoors and active. We all know the benefits that come with exercise, especially when it comes to mental health. In today’s work-obsessed world, more people are finding it difficult to manage stress, and live in constant worry about something or the other.”

She added: “It’s possible to have a really exciting time, and have mini-adventures, here on the banks of the River Eden, without having to travel too far.”

The festival will stage music events, including a 1980s night on the Saturday featuring tribute band Under Neon, Zumba sessions, and films from Kendal Mountain Festival. Massage therapies will be available, and there will be a market area in the former milking parlour where locally-made crafts, clothes, toiletries, candles and much more will be on sale. There’ll be plenty of good food available, with lots of vegetarian and vegan choices, but also chicken and chips and pizza. Says Wiz: “We know what families want when they go away for a weekend, and we know it means catering for everyone.”

Schedule:

Friday features the Wonderful Wild Women who will be taking over the main stage. This is a community which aims to inspire women of any age or experience to get out into nature and experience adventures. There will be yoga classes, a chance to swim in the river, and go for a late night run with the Jogging Pals. Or stay on site and have a cocktail!

Saturday: Fitness classes, talks, films from Kendal Mountain Festival, workshops and more river dipping. In the evening there’s music from Rachel Kraft and Graham Potter, followed by 80s tribute band Under Neon.

Sunday: Breakfast cinema club, yoga, fitness classes, workshops, river activities and old-fashioned field games like rounders and tug of war.

The festival is on May 27-29. For more information and to book tickets see https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

  • A number of parkruns can be reached from the festival site including Penrith (20 minutes), Talkin Tarn (25 mins), Carlisle (30 mins), Keswick (45 mins), Whinlatter (50 mins) and Tyne Green (65 mins).

Fell-running writer Steve to appear at Lakes festival

The writer who has chronicled British fell running over the years will be a guest speaker at a Cumbrian festival this summer.

Steve Chilton will appear on the Inspiration Stage at the Eden Escape festival in the northern Lake District.

Steve Chilton

Steve is the author of a number of books including It’s a Hill,Get Over it;  All or Nothing at All (the life of fell-runner Bill Bland); and Running Hard, the story of the rivalry between running champions John Wild and Kenny Stuart. He’s currently working on a book about women runners. Steve is an experienced public speaker, with spots at the Keswick Festival, Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and Buxton Adventure Festival.

A committed runner and qualified athletics coach with considerable experience of fell running and a marathon personal best of 2-34-53, Steve is a long-time member of the Fell Runners Association and has run in many of the classic fell races, as well as mountain marathons, and has completed the Cuillin Traverse. He worked for many years at Middlesex University where he was a Cartographer and a Lead Academic Developer. Steve’s work has been published extensively, particularly in his roles as Chair of the Society of Cartographers and Chair of the ICA Commission in Neocartography.

Tom Williams

He will join other inspirational speakers at the festival at Mains Farm near Kirkoswald. They are Tom Williams, the global chief operating officer at parkrun, and Ross Brannigan, the Scottish adventurer whose first book first book Running Adventures Scotland will be published soon.

Ross Brannigan

Eden Escape is an unusual event which combines camping, music and good food with lots of fitness activities and adventures for all ages. There will be running and swimming sessions, yoga and Zumba dancing, massage therapies, and lots of children’s activities, along with a series of films from the Kendal Mountain Festival.

Wiz Lees, one of the organisers, said: “It’s great news that Steve Chilton is joining our line-up of inspiring speakers. Our festival is all about being happy, healthy and fit in the great outdoors, and having adventures great and small. We’re looking forward to hearing about the amazing characters he has met on the fells.”

Eden Escape festival will be staged at Mains Farm from May 27-29. Full details, and booking forms, can be found here: https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

Adventurer Ross heads to Lakes festival

The Scottish runner, writer and environmentalist with a passion for adventures in wild places, Ross Brannigan is heading to a festival in the Lakes this spring.

Ross will be one of the inspirational speakers at the Eden Escape Festival at the end of May.

Ross Brannigan

Eden Escape is an unusual event which combines camping, music and good food with lots of fitness activities and adventures for all ages. There will be running and swimming sessions, yoga and Zumba dancing, massage therapies, and lots of children’s activities.

And along with a series of films from the Kendal Mountain Festival, top names from the outdoors world will be on the Inspiration stage. Ross headlines with Tom Williams, the global chief operating office from parkrun UK.

Tom Williams

Also in May, Ross’s first book Running Adventures Scotland will be published, which features 25 inspiring running routes through some of Scotland’s awe-inspiring landscapes. From thrilling ridge lines and high summits to wandering trails through beautiful glens, the book is designed to be the adventure runner’s companion to exploring the best Scotland has to offer. Running Adventures Scotland will be released by Vertebrate Publishing in time for the festival.

One of the organisers, Wiz Lees, said: “We are thrilled that Ross has accepted our invitation to come and speak at the festival. We are very keen to show that adventures can be enjoyed without having to trek half way across the world, and while our own festival adventures will be at a local level, it will be wonderful to hear all about Ross’s exploits north of the border.”

Eden Escape festival will be staged at Mains Farm from May 27-29. Full details, and booking forms, can be found here: https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

Zumba and yoga meet 80s music at festival

The Cumbrian festival with fitness at its heart has signed up a leading Zumba teacher for the weekend.

Eden Escape Festival will feature sessions led by Kelly McClelland of the Eden Dance School and Live Yoga Life.  Kelly will be offering Zumba suitable for all ages and Kundalini Yoga, a style of yoga that focuses on mantras, repetitive movements, breath and music.

Kelly McClelland

The festival, on the last weekend in May, will be held on the banks of the River Eden at Mains Farm near Kirkoswald. There will be a range of classes and sessions offered, including trail running, river swimming, and massage therapies. There will also be a programme of inspirational speakers, led by parkrun Global Operating Officer Tom Williams.

The Zumba and Yoga sessions are part of the festival’s ethos of health, fitness and adventure, as well as having a chilled camping experience with great music and food in a beautiful setting.

Keeping visitors dancing on the Saturday night will be 80s tribute band Under Neon who will headline in the big barn.

Under Neon

One of the organisers, Wiz Lees, said: “Visitors to our first festival will remember Kelly as the most enthusiastic teacher going. If Zumba may be a new experience for you, there’s no one better to help you get moving and having fun.”

Kelly says: “I absolutely love teaching Zumba classes. The reason is simple: every class feels like a party! We take the ‘work’ out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the Latin and World rhythms take over, you’ll see why Zumba Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise.”

Tickets for the festival, and more details, can be found at: https://www.edenescapefest.co.uk/

  • Based in the Heart of Cumbria, the Eden Valley, Eden Dance aims to offer high quality dance training to youngsters and grown ups regardless of their rural location, in a variety of styles for fun or as a progressive route to a career in dance.
  • Yoga For Real Life – Kundalini Yoga –  is sometimes called the Mother of all Yogas or the Yoga of awareness. It is a powerful blend of postures, breath work or Pranayama, mantras and meditation that teaches deep relaxation and physical and emotional release, to awaken your inner potential.