Visitors assemble at Harold Hill Baths for the "Healthy walk"

Denis and Maureen O'Flynn send the walk off with a wave from Denis's much revered AEU banner.

Chris Cole writes…………….

There is more to walking than just putting one foot in front of the other. Sixty local people gathered at the sparkling new Central Park Leisure Centre in Harold Hill on Wednesday (20/7) to be waved off by Cllr Denis O'Flynn the Deputy Mayor of Havering as they set out on a healthy and fascinating adventure. 'There are people here of all ages' said the Deputy Mayor 'But the older among us will remember the days when we walked everywhere and were a lot healthier for it'

Each walker was given a twenty question quiz sheet and free biro to jot down the answers, all of which appeared either in the walk information leaflet or in the information given by the walk leaders during the event. The winner Audrey Wright of Romford scored a magnificent eighteen out of twenty and was presented with an English Nature pedometer by Parks Officer Sarah Brooks. Sarah presented runners-up with Central Park Leisure Centre Free Swim vouchers kindly donated by Mr Greg Barsby the Centre Manager. The children's activity which was called Park Detectives asked questions like 'Draw something spikey you see in the park' and 'Name an animal that might live in this park' and was won by a young walker from Romford who was presented with a boxed set of English Nature coloured pencils.

Besides the competitions each walker was offered a single use camera kindly sponsored by Focus Studio of Hilldene to take pictures of anything that caught their attention whether it was a bright orange frilly winged Comma butterfly or their own finger. All the photos will be on show at the Central Park Leisure Centre and other venues in the near future.

As if all this wasn't enough the walkers were met in beautiful Dagnam Park by two local experts Don Tate and Del Smith who explained the history and wildlife of the area. Dagnam Park has just been designated Havering's first Local Nature Reserve and has many rare plants, walkers visited the rare Wild Service Tree as well as remains of Dagnam Manor house which was originally built in the 1770s. This Georgian mansion stood until 1950 and had grounds designed in 1812 by the famous landscape designer Sir Humphrey Repton who lived in Romford.

'I had no idea how interesting this Park was' said walker James Guthrie 'I come from Collier Row and have only now realised what a great resource we have on our very doorstep here' After almost two hours of fun in the sun the hungry walkers made their way back to Central Park Leisure Centre to enjoy a healthy buffet prepared by Kelly of K and M Catering who have just opened the brand new cafe there. 'We really hope lots of people will come and enjoy our cafe' said Kelly 'You don't have to be swimming or even visiting the Health Suite to pop in for a snack. We welcome everyone' 'We all had a most enjoyable morning' said Havering's Healthy Lifestyle Officer Julie Brown 'But we should remember that the main purpose of the walk was to encourage people to take a little exercise each day for the good of their health'