On 9th July 2017, Swindon Interactive Arts Service (SwIAS) took part in their first ever 2 mile sponsored walk.

Grace and Jo (SwIAS Manager) planned the route before the big day and Jo had arranged that once we had reached the garden centre, teas and cakes were provided on our arrival.

On the day itself, the participants started to come through the church door at 09:30am. Many fully prepared for all weathers and others braving whatever came their way. At this point the weather outside was being nice to us – cloudy and overcast.

Speaking to many people, most were expressing how excited they were to take on this walk. One guy in particular highlighted how nice it will be to get outside into the fresh air and take part in some exercise.

For many of the participants, walking this far was a challenge, a distance they’d never walked before. With one lady, she found walking difficult but this wasn’t going to stop her. At 10:30am everyone had arrived and we were almost ready to go! Last minute toilet stops and water bottle refills.

We were off.. As we left the building the heavens began to open and rain started to seep through the clouds. But that didn’t stop us! In small groups we made our way down to the garden centre. I bounced between people taking photos and there wasn’t a single person without a smile on their face. Everyone I saw was either smiling, singing or socialising with one another. We made our way through some housing estates and onto Ackers Way. Staff acting as lollipop ladies to get our participants across safely – we found it hilarious. Everyone was having such a good time. No one was being rushed and everyone arrived at the garden centre in their own time. I’m sure that on the way there people walked faster because they knew cake and drinks were waiting for them.

By 11:15 everyone had made it to the garden centre cafe (twigs). Twigs had given us the back room and had set it out like ‘Afternoon Tea’ style –  it was beautiful. The place was buzzing, everyone was chatting, laughing, enjoying the food and really embracing the day.

After an hour of consuming all the cakes in sight, drinking ups amounts of teas and coffees and having a good natter, we all made our way back to the church. The rain had stopped and the sun had appeared. I had stayed behind this time, chatting to a new participant who was looking to join. Speaking to both him and his carer, they had really enjoyed today’s activity. They mentioned how friendly everyone is and how they were welcomed by all.

“You’re all like one big warm family here”, the mother said, “Everyone’s included and has really enjoyed themselves today!”

It”s great to hear such positive feedback, the work that SwIAS does with their participants is fabulous and they all gain so much from their experiences. It”s a great feeling knowing that the money raised will contribute to the continuous marvellous service.

Today everyone at SwIAS smashed the 2 mile walk arriving back in time for lunch, which I know everyone enjoyed. This was a challenge for everyone but with their determination, hard work, aspiration to succeed, possibly with the incentive with cake at the end, I had no doubt in my mind that they would storm through today! And they DID!

I’m proud of each and every person and would like to thank everyone.

I’m proud of each and every person and would like to thank everyone for taking part. Collectively SwIAS fundraised an amazing £400 pound for Step Into My Shoes!