Leeds Girls Can: Couch To 5K!

Leeds Girls Can blog image

It started with a meeting alongside Leeds Girls Can Ambassador’s and Run Leader’s- Natasha Hamlet and Kirsty Midgley. We wanted to discuss setting up a Couch to 5k beginners running group. We were all excited in sharing our passion to help get more women and girls active. After finalising logistics of the programme, we created a Facebook group and began promoting through social media and word of mouth. We received a lot of interest but assumed only a percentage of that would translate into actual ladies turning up. How wrong we were…

On the 21st of April 2017, I turned up ready to lead week 1 session 1, and was absolutely overwhelmed to be greeted by 116 women and girls. It was slightly chaotic to say the least. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have to shout the warm up to that many people, but somehow the other leaders and I got through it successfully. Over the next few weeks the numbers gradually stabilised to around 70 ladies. At the time I just thought we were getting into the swing of things and it kind of became the norm. Reflecting back now, I realise what an incredible achievement that was!

As the weeks continued to go by I were amazed at the level of commitment and determination I saw from the ladies. Although the leaders put on a regular Tuesday and Thursday session, the participants were expected to complete the third session of the week on their own. The Facebook group proved to be such a useful outlet and a place for the ladies to post about their achievements, to seek advice and support each other. Seeing ladies turn up at the sessions, week after week, and complete runs that they never imagined they could was inspiring to us all.

My running journey started back in 2005, following a similar Couch to 5k plan, and I have never looked back. I knew the Couch to 5k programme was a great tool in encouraging people to exercise and achieve their goals, but little did I think I would have a vital part to play in getting so many women active. As the ‘Pregnant Run Leader’, I was happy to lead the warm ups and cool downs. During the sessions you’d usually find me near the back walking, offering encouragement and chatting with the ladies. I thoroughly enjoyed every single session I was a part of, talking to some of the ladies and finding out their reasons for doing it was very inspiring and motivating for me.

So the 9 weeks flew by and the running distance continued to increase. It dawned on me the impact the group was having when Made in Leeds came down to film us, and show off the achievements of the group. At the final session I was able to attend, there were still around 35 ladies participating in 30 minute continuous running. I felt emotional thinking about the journey these women had achieved from struggling to run for a minute to doing it for a full half an hour!

I had an absolute blast with the Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k ladies at Kirkstall Abbey. I am thankful to all the volunteer Run Leaders and Active Leeds Development Team for allowing me to be a part of such an inspiring and empowering thing. I’ve loved every minute of being part of this group and can truly say that I feel everyone who completed the programme is the epitome of #ThisGirlCan.

Ps. Watch this space for more Leeds Girls Can Couch to 5k programmes! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LeedGirlsCan to hear about more amazing opportunities you can get involved in.


From Crutches to Coast to Coast – My Cycling Journey, by Julia Davis


cycling blog images

Life before cycling- had you ever wanted to cycle before?

I have always liked keeping fit but in my 30’s I had a lot of health problems due to endometriosis, which meant years of no exercise. I had a number of operations, including a hysterectomy, and was advised to walk every day to help me recover.  I was unfit and felt worn down by everything. I started walking and gradually built in some jogging. This developed into running and before I knew it, I increased my distance until I could do a 5km Park Run.  I got stronger and fitter and joined the local running club. I had even signed up for a marathon because my training was going so well! My buzz came quickly crashing down shortly after when I had an accident and badly broke my ankle, and tore all my ligaments.

How did you first get into cycling?

Blog images 2 Five months after breaking my ankle, I was nowhere near being able to run and I was feeling very frustrated at being inactive again. I started to use my hybrid bike to exercise our lively dog as it was easier for me than walking. I enjoyed being out on a bike and found it didn’t aggravate my ankle too much.  My husband has always been a keen cyclist, and I always thought of it as his sport. But I woke up one day and decided I’d get a road bike and try cycling, so at least I could do something to help me get back to running.

Are there any barriers/challenges you have faced along your cycling journey?

I bought a road bike in the January sales and I can vividly remember my first attempt at going round the block. I felt very unstable and there was a lot to think about with brakes, gears and traffic. I could only manage with left hand turns as I was too scared to turn right and move across into the traffic! I also found it very cold and wasn’t sure it would be for me. I persevered and did a 10 mile bike ride, then 15, then 20 miles. I set myself the target of doing the 30 mile cafe ride at the cycling club, and felt a huge sense of achievement at getting to this milestone. I had a steep learning curve but I found other cyclists were supportive and happy to share advice. I started to cycle further and with faster groups, and after 6 months I completed my first 100 mile ride. It was then started to feel like a proper cyclist.

Tell us about Coast to Coast

My ankle was still causing me problems and last September I had an operation to remove bits of cartilage and bone spurs so it was back to cast, fracture boot and crutches. My husband signed up to do the Coast to Coast challenge,  150 miles in a day (from the West to the East coast). Even whilst I was on crutches I decided to sign up for it too! This gave me a real focus to get back on my bike. Just three months after surgery I was training and working to get my fitness back. It was hard to start at the beginning again, but my philosophy of just trying and doing a bit more each time gradually paid off. By Spring I was able to comfortably cycle distances of 70-80 miles. ‘Winter miles = summer smiles” was true for me.

How did you feel on completion of Coast to Coast?   

Blog images 3The journey of training for the event and doing this with my husband was as enjoyable as the event itself. But I had a huge sense of achievement when we successfully completed 150 miles from Seascale to Whitby. We climbed up many hills, including the well-known “Hardknott Pass”, starting and finishing together in 12 hours. It’s an achievement I feel extra proud of and especially because of the obstacles I’ve overcome.

Are there other proud cycling achievements?

In addition to completing the Coast to Coast, I am also competing in some of the Cycling Club challenges which include strava segments and a hill climbing league. I have also had a go at a Time Trial, a Circuit race and a road race. I never imagined I would do any of this and it has taken all of my courage to give these things a go. I’ve found there is a lot of learning and growth with each new challenge. It’s true that we tend to regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Why did you decide to do the British Cyling Breeze Ride Leader course?

I only found out about Breeze when I was cycling regularly, and I wished I’d known about it when I first got started. I felt motivated to share my recent experiences of ‘being new’ to cycling with other women – to help them get on their bikes and improve their cycling. It’s a big leap from going round the block to joining a cycling club where the easiest rides are still 30 miles. Breeze offers a perfect solution – a safe, friendly, supportive environment for women to enjoy cycling together.

What are the next steps for you in cycling?

My next steps are to continue cycling with the club and competing in the various club challenges. I also plan to do some Sportives and trying more races – both Circuit and Road. I may even get my next level race licence.

For Breeze, I am looking forward to continuing to lead rides from Roundhay. I often lead slightly longer rides, 20-30 miles for ladies who cycle regularly or are looking for their next challenge.

I am also facilitating sessions at the Brownlee Centre closed road circuit. These provide a safe place for women to try road biking, improve their fitness and get advice from other Breeze champions.  It’s all free and bikes/helmets can be borrowed.

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When I first got on my road bike I had no idea I would achieve so much. I hope others will be inspired by my story to get out on their bikes, and that they will get as much enjoyment from it as I have!

Leeds Disability Sport News – January 2017

Happy New Year! Read on for the latest disability sport news in Leeds:

In Leeds

  • Leeds Lets Get Active leisure centre timetables for Jan to March 2017 are now available. There will also be LLGA community sessions within the South and East CCG area and more information will be available shortly about specific activities.
  • Leeds Sports Awards tickets are now available, with discounted Leeds Sports Club member tickets available from Monday 9th January. The awards are taking place at the First Direct Arena on Tuesday 7th March 2017.
  • FA Coaching Deaf Footballers workshop is taking place on Sunday 22nd January at Middleton Leisure Centre. If you are interested please follow the link above where you can see further details and enrol on the workshop.
  • Leeds Disability Sport Forum is taking place on Monday 23rd January at the John Charles Centre for Sport. This is suitable for practitioners, clubs, parents, participants and anyone else with an interest in disability sport. If you would like further details or to attend please contact: ross.bibby@leeds.gov.uk
  • DSY Annual Awards Dinner will be held at The Centenary Pavilion, Elland Rd on Friday 24th March 2017. The price of the event – a celebration of sporting achievement, participation and volunteering – remains £30 per person, to include a four course meal, speeches, entertainment and a raffle. Nomination forms are also available to recognise disability sport achievements in the county. There is a separate category for Paralympic level athletes, where you can nominate Yorkshire’s Paralympians in Rio.
  • Wheelchair Tennis CPD is taking place in Leeds at the John Charles Centre for Sport (Tennis Centre) on the 24th April 2017. This is aimed at accredited level 2 and above coaches who would like to develop their skills to work more effectively with wheelchair tennis players.


Outside Leeds

  • Safer Communities Fund (SCF) is a grant-giving scheme designed to make funding easily accessible for projects which aim to make West Yorkshire safer and feel safer. Round 10 of grants are available to apply for up to the 20th January 2017 and groups can apply for funding up to £5,000.
  • Cerebral Palsy and Sport Awareness Workshop is taking place in Nottingham on 22nd February, 17th May and 27th September 2017. This is ideal for teachers, coaches, physios, parents or those who lead sport and physical activity. The cost is £30 per person and for full information on Cerebral Palsy Sport CPD opportunities or to book your place now please contact CP Sport on 0115 925 7027 or email Lisa.morton-smith@cpsport.org
  •  Coach Education Courses held in West Yorkshire in 2017 are now available to view via the Yorkshire Sport Foundation website.

Middleton Park Duathlon Results

Provisional results from the Middleton Park Duathlon event on 8th October 2016 –

Find a full list of results on the Go Tri website.

Position Bib Number Name Time
1 11 Carl Hearn 33.18
2 20 James Nundy 33.34
3 25 Paul Bennet 34.05
4 4 Michael Melia 34.21
5 15 Mark Hayes 35.01
6 6 Mathew Higgins 36.01
7 27 Daniel Wright 36.32
8 3 Rachel Feather 38.03
9 7 Hayden Harrison 38.45
10 12 Steve Beckwith 38.51
11 1 Stacey Kite 38.57
12 13 Graham Hawden 39.08
13 14 Joanne Hawden 39.40
14 10 Jacob Thompson 40.03
15 26 Diane Hubber 40.25
16 5 Claire Higgins 40.55
17 19 Colin Render 43.32
18 17 Jon Osborne 43.32
19 16 Liz Pearce 43.33
20 22 Frank Wright 43.59
21 28 Hannah Roberts 45.26
22 21 Harriet Whiting 46.50
23 2 Tina Craddock 48.27
24 9 Lena Abe 52.11
25 18 Viv Smales 52.15
26 23 Laura Smales 52.15
27 8 Julie Abe 57.33
28 26 Diane Huber 57.38

School Tennis Festival

On Wednesday 11 February John Charles Centre for Sport will be hosting a Schools Tennis Festival in partnership with the Breeze Sports Academy with an expected 250 attendances.

The Breeze Sports Academy project enables individuals with relevant skills, knowledge and confidence to prepare themselves for further education or employment. On the day participants can expect fun and exciting tennis sessions, learning new skills and putting them into practice.

All sessions will be led by Breeze Academy students under the watchful gaze of John Charles Centre’s Head Tennis Coach, Dwight Brown. Participants who complete the session will receive a voucher enabling them to return to John Charles Centre for Sport during the February half term for a discounted price at the tennis holiday camp.

For more information contact –

Dwight Brown

Head Tennis Coach

JCCS Tennis Centre

Tel: 0113 3951444 (Desk)

Tel: 0113 3950010 (Reception)

Mob: 07891 270605

Tennis JCCS Leeds (Facebook)

@JCCStennis (Twitter)

Leeds Disability Sport News- August 2014

 In Leeds


  • IPC Athletics European Championships continue in Swansea this week. Congratulations to Leeds City AC wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft for her gold medal in the 100m already. TV coverage continues on More4 until Saturday 23rd


  • Yorkshire County Tennis Championships will again this year have a visually impaired tennis category. Taking place at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds on Wednesday 27th August, 2pm to 5pm, entry fee is £5 and available for B1 to B4 players. To enter contact north@lta.org.uk


  • Celebrate National Paralympic Day and Leeds 2 Rio with a variety of activities taking place at the end of August in Leeds. Lineham Farm, Leeds Sailing & Activity Centre and Herd Farm are running specific sessions for disabled people on Wednesday 27th and Friday 29th August, including adapted cycling, canoeing, sailing and wheelchair abseiling. Spider-Y are running a free wheelchair sport taster day at Morley Leisure Centre on Thursday 28th #NPD2014 #Leeds2Rio


  • Ticket 2 Tokyo is coming to Leeds on Sunday 21st A wheelchair tennis fast track programme, this aims to attract potential athletes across the country to find those with the desire and dedication to train to become elite athletes and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Disabled people of all ages can come along to Leeds Met University for the festival and play wheelchair tennis for free under the guidance of top coaches.


  • Leeds Disability Tag Rugby Festival will be taking place at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Tuesday 23rd Suitable for junior and senior teams, aimed at ambulant players with a learning, moderate physical or sensory impairment. Entry fee is £20 or free for Leeds schools who are members of Active Schools/ Leeds Schools Sports Association.


  • Herd Farm Activity Centre are running short breaks weekend residentials for young people aged 10 to 16yrs with a disability. Taking place in September and October, these provide a fun, friendly, active and busy weekend of interactive games, outdoor team challenges, arts, crafts, music and relaxing.


  • Northern Sailability regatta will be taking place at Otley Sailing Club on Thursday 9th October, featuring Access 303 wide dinghies, which are incredibly accessible for all.


  • Disability Sport Yorkshire have a brand new sport based training programme for young disabled people between the ages of 16 -25 in Leeds and across West Yorkshire.  If you have an interest in sport and want to gain qualifications to enable you to volunteer as a coach, official or participant then this course is ideal for you.


Outside Leeds


  • Learning Disability Sport workshop is taking place on the 15th September in Huddersfield. Developed through the English Learning Disability Sports Alliance between Mencap Sport and Special Olympics GB, this workshop looks at learning disability and sport to help clubs, coaches and sports providers offer a more inclusive environment and support people with a learning disability to access sporting opportunities.



  • Boccia England are offering development grants to encourage growth in the sport of Boccia. Grants are available to organisations, schools, community groups, councils, and clubs who will increase the number of new disabled young people and adults regularly playing Boccia once a week or more often.


  • EFDS have released their latest report entitled “Encouraging people to be active together”. This study examines current providers’ experiences, successes and learning points. It also suggests ways to attract more disabled people to be active in this way.


  • England Athletics have announced the launch of their Sight Loss awareness and Guide Running Workshop. The workshop has been written in conjunction with British Blind Sport and provides runners, leaders, coaches and volunteers with information and experience in off-track guide running for people with a visual impairment.


  • British Paralympic Association celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and BT is inviting the public to nominate their club for a BT 25th Birthday Bursary, a fund of £25,000 that will be distributed in five awards of £5,000 to sports clubs in the UK. The competition is open to amateur sports clubs operating in the UK only, which offer significant opportunities for participation in disability sports.


Kids get active at Fearnville and John Smeaton multi-sports camps

Active Sport in partnership with Fearnville and John Smeaton leisure centres organised a multi sport and swimming camps over the February half term.

The multi- sport & swimming camp encourages children and young people to be more active over the holidays by attending the multi sports & swimming  camp at a special rate thanks to funded by the Youth Activities Fund – Inner East and Outer East Area Committee.

The multi sports & swimming camp targeted 8 – 12 yrs old boys and girls within the inner east wards (including Gipton & Harehills and Killingbeck and Seacroft) and outer east wards (including Crossgates & Whinmoor, Temple Newsam, Garforth and Swillington and Kippax and Methley).   

The sports camp started from 9am until 2pm with dry side activities such as Dodge ball, Cricket, Tag rugby, Athletics, Football, Basketball, team games, Dance, Archery and Skipping school.

The Fearnville camp commissioned Feel Good Factor to deliver a session on healthy eating to make the children and young people more aware of the positive effects of eating healthier e.g. 5 a day and Eat well plate model.

After the dry side activities the young people had the option to go swimming in the pool from 2pm until 3.30pm

All of these activities were included in a discounted price due to funding from the Youth activities fund.

For further information on activities in the East North East Leeds please contact Jason Minott, Active Sport Officer: E-mail: Jason.minott@leeds.gov.uk / Tel: 0113 378 1990