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Active Ageing project to kick off at British and Irish Cup clash

A project designed to transform attitudes to - and opportunities for - sport and physical activity in over 55s will launch at Bristol Rugby’s British and Irish Cup clash with Doncaster at Ashton Gate on Sunday.

Bristol Sport Foundation has teamed up St Monica Trust, The Anchor Society and LinkAge Bristol to launch the Active Ageing project - a fully inclusive programme, building on existing provisions and developing new opportunities to encourage people aged 55 and over to become and stay active.

The match day will see demonstrations of a range of walking sports, including walking rugby, walking badminton, walking basketball and walking netball in and around the stadium.

Karen Lloyd, Active Ageing (Bristol) manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be involved with this ground-breaking initiative.

“Not only does this initiative provide people with the opportunity to increase their level activity in later life, it also helps to enhance their well-being and social networks as well.”

Kris Tavender, who manages the Foundation’s Golden Memories programme – targeting over 55’s living with dementia and those challenged by social isolation, depression and loneliness – said: “Active Ageing is an opportunity for genuinely passionate and driven groups in Bristol to come together under one banner to really make a difference to older people across the city.

“Sport, physical activity and general social interaction – what we are really looking to do is build pathways to friendship, and put an end to inactivity.”

The project aims to allow everyone - regardless of their age, background or level of ability - to live actively to their fullest potential.

Opportunities currently available include walking football, rugby, netball, basketball and cricket, as well as ‘Walking for Health’, gig rowing, kayaking and canoeing.

Bristol Rugby Community Foundation has been developing Walking Rugby for more than 12 months across the Greater Bristol area, with north and south hubs at Greville Smythe Park (Monday mornings) and Westbury Fields (Wednesday mornings), as well as a self-sufficient satellite club at Kingswood Rugby Club.

“Active Ageing is an opportunity for genuinely passionate and driven groups in Bristol to come together under one banner to really make a difference to older people across the city."

Kris Tavender, Bristol Rugby Community Foundation

Walking Rugby in Bristol has now seen more than 100 older people take part, with over 50 participating weekly. Developments within the sport have seen representation at Ashton Gate, the Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham and in competitive games across the region.

Most recently, Bristol hosted the largest Walking Rugby festival ever of its kind, featuring teams from Gloucester, Salisbury and Reading.

Community Foundation recently launched its latest pilot at St Mary’s Old Boys Rugby Club and is always seeking new local combination and sports facility partners to develop new hubs.

For more information on Walking Rugby at Bristol Rugby Community Foundation and other Walking Sports at Bristol Sport Foundation, please contact programme manager Kris Tavender (ktavender@bristolrugby.co.uk).

If you would like to find out more about Active Ageing (Bristol), click here.