A milestone for Nordic walking - as new project helps cancer patients

Instructor Jane MacPherson with walkers at the Suffolk School of Nordic Walking's first birthday brunch

Instructor Jane MacPherson with walkers at the Suffolk School of Nordic Walking's first birthday brunch, held at the Coddenham Centre - Credit: Georgie Kerr/Four Dots Photography

The Suffolk School of Nordic Walking, based near Ipswich, has celebrated its first anniversary - after recently launching walks for NHS cancer patients.

Around 80 walkers went to the brunch event at the Coddenham Centre, where the school is based.

Classical musician Jane MacPherson changed career in the wake of Covid lockdown and launched the school last year. It now has walkers aged from their 20s to their 80s.

Before changing career, Jane was a principal member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and then the Philharmonia of London, playing under her maiden name, Jane Marshal, and spent nearly 40 years performing with top orchestras and artists.

Nordic walking at the school has recently been made available free to NHS cancer patients at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, with small groups taking part pre, during and post treatment.

Jane said: "It has been exciting to see patients get so much out of Nordic Walking. As a highly effective exercise that still allows you to walk and talk, the companionship of our groups has for many been as beneficial as the exercise itself."

The project was launched by ESNEFT's John Le Vay Cancer Information Centre in Ipswich and Cancer Well Being and Macmillan Centre in Colchester, with funding from the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity, together with the school.

Jane MacPherson is enjoying her new career as a Nordic Walking instructor Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Jane MacPherson, who runs the Suffolk School of Nordic Walking, based in Coddenham - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Cancer information nurse specialist and centre manager Louise Smith said: "Physical activity is so important before, during and after treatment for cancer, and this is a wonderful way of experiencing the many benefits it can offer."

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The free 90-minute training courses take place twice monthly at The Coddenham Centre and also at Highwoods Park in Colchester, and are also available to NHS staff.

The next available NHS courses are on October 26 in Colchester and October 27 in Coddenham. The school also offers other training and walks up to five times a week.

For details of the NHS walks, visit the Coddenham Centre's web page.