Lasting legacy for Thetford

HEALTH chiefs pledged to leave a lasting legacy of healthier residents last week after launching a series of activities and initiatives at a Norfolk town.

HEALTH chiefs pledged to leave a lasting legacy of healthier residents last week after launching a series of activities and initiatives at a Norfolk town.

An Olympic hopeful and a television chef helped launch Thetford's 'healthy town' projects to help tackle obesity and associated health problems.

The �1.8m scheme, which is funded for the next two years, will see the introduction of cycling programmes, a green gym, healthy eating workshops, and the creation of new allotments.

But officials from NHS Norfolk and Breckland Council, which match funded a �900,000 government healthy town grant, said they hoped the project would have a lasting impact on the younger generation and help adults make permanent lifestyle changes.

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The two-year-long health drive comes after Thetford was named as one of nine towns and cities in the UK last year to get 'healthy town' status, including Manchester and Portsmouth.

The scheme aims to improve the lives of the estimated 30,000 residents in Thetford where in some wards the life expectancy is five years lower than the east of England average.

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Tony Trotman, project manager for NHS Norfolk, said the initiatives would be particularly targeting the youngsters of Thetford to encourage the new generation to get active and eat healthily.

“The funding is until March 2011 and a key part of our plan is sustainability and what legacy we leave. We are working to get people to take control of individual projects when the funding ends.”

“There is a massive amount of good projects in Thetford and we are working hand in hand with them and engaging more people to understand what they can do for themselves,” he said.

A host of activities took place in the Market Place, including a cooking demonstration from Gizzi Erskine from Channel 4's Cook Yourself Thin, and gymnastics by 20-year-old local athlete Ahmahd Thomas .

Theresa Hewett, executive member for communities and benefits at Breckland Council, added: “Living a healthier life doesn't have to involve joining an expensive gym or banning chocolate from the house forever. My hope is that the projects being launched today will inspire people to try something new and take some small steps which will help them eat well, move more, and live longer.”

Other partners include Keystone Development Trust, Sustrans, Thetford Town Council and Norfolk County Council.

Two get-fit initiatives include the BTCV's Green Gym in Thetford and a call to 'grow your own' vegetables.

The green gym will involve three hour sessions of taking part in conservation projects to encourage people to lose weight, recover from illness and beat depression.

To register, contact Britta Lipper, BTCV Green Gym 01842 757349 or e-mail

Thetford Town Council is also looking to create more allotment space to get residents to grow their own vegetables.

Officials from the Joy of Food will also be helping the people of Thetford to eat better and more balanced diets.

Trainers from The Joy of Food will be running workshops to give all comers over the age of 14 practical, hands-on tips on how to eat healthily and economically. For more information, contact Sean on 07786 363499 or e-mail

Newly appointed Sustrans 'Bike It' officer, Georgie Burr will be working with Thetford healthy town to 'free' those forgotten bicycles, and get Thetford cycling.

She will be working with schools and the wider community to encourage people to cycle more. Contact

Thetford Healthy Town project manager Tony Trotman added that they will also be locating and renovating disused and unwanted cycles and distributing them to organisations which can make best use of them.

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