Ernie Woodrow is the Chair of the Norwich Community Green Gym and has won a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister.
The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community. Every week day the Prime Minister recognises an inspirational volunteer with the Point of Light award.
Ernie is the heart and soul of this innovative voluntary conservation group. By getting his team involved in conservation work in the outdoors, he is providing volunteers with opportunities to improve their fitness, while taking care of green spaces in their community.
Prime Minister David Cameron
Despite taking early retirement as a result of illness, Ernie leads a team of volunteers who keep fit by completing a range of outdoor tasks including litter picking, gardening, path clearing and growing vegetables in the gym’s allotment.
I would like to say thank you to the Prime Minister for this fantastic award. I carry out conservation work on some beautiful sites in Norwich with many brilliant volunteers. I think the best thing is the wonderful social life, which I have found over the years has been a big help for coping with my health problems
Green Gyms are fun and free outdoor sessions where participants are guided in practical activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds. Unlike other conservation projects, the emphasis is very much on health and fitness - volunteers warm up and cool down in preparation for a range of light to vigorous activities to suit all abilities.
In fact, almost a third more calories can be burnt in some Green Gym® sessions than in an average aerobics class! It's not just about the physical. There is also a growing body of research that suggests volunteering is good for your health, particularly mentally. It can help bring stability, improve self-esteem, reduce social isolation and help people learn new skills.
I want to offer my congratulations to Ernie on receiving the Points of Light Award; his commitment to supporting community members with physical and mental health issues is heart-warming and such an asset to Norwich.
Ernie’s local MP, Chloe Smith