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TV STAR AND NATURE EXPERT TEAMS UP TO KEEP WALES ACTIVE

10 Jul 2006

Nature expert and TV presenter, Iolo Williams, today welcomed the launch of an exciting range of new projects that aim to get the sedentary population of Wales out of their armchairs and into the local countryside.

Projects in Bridgend, Cardiff, Rhyl, Swansea and Pembroke Dock are celebrating after receiving a slice of the £6.5 million available under the Big Lottery Fund’s Mentro Allan programme (see list at end of release).

The programme aims to make the "great outdoors" readily available on our doorsteps - parks, paths, trails, waterways, coasts and countryside in Wales more accessible to people who might otherwise never use them. Further projects all over Wales will be announced later in the year.

The aim of the projects announced today is to get the sedentary population of Wales more active by urging them to increase the recreational use of their natural environment. Each local project focuses on specific hard to reach target groups in areas where physical activity participation is low and where there is a need to proactively remove barriers to enable people to enjoy activity in the outdoors.

As a presenter of well known TV programmes such as Iolo’s Welsh Safari on the BBC and S4C’s Crwydro, Iolo Williams enjoys nothing more than donning on his trademark shorts and binoculars to prepare himself for tackling whatever the elements, rugged landscape and wildlife of Wales can throw at him. Delighted to support initiatives such as Mentro Allan, Iolo said:

"I'm proud to support such an exciting initiative that aims to get the population of Wales out of their armchairs and into the wilderness to explore. Boasting an abundance of beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers and mountains, some people are oblivious to the fact that there's so much to see and do right on their doorstep. Attracting millions of visitors every year, the Welsh landscape offers an embarrassment of riches for those who want to get out and about to enjoy the stunning scenery and lead healthier lifestyles."

The announcement also comes in the week that the Mentro Allan website (www.mentroallan.co.uk) is launched to the masses.

Commenting on the importance for funding such a programme, Big Lottery Fund Board Member and Chair of the Mentro Allan committee, Taha Idris, said:

"We wanted to make a significant investment in an area that would primarily bring significant health gain to a high risk section of the population. Mentro Allan will improve the health and fitness of people by increasing their participation in physical activity. It will also improve access to outdoor activities and the enjoyment of the local natural environment for people that currently do little or no exercise."

The first stage of the programme got underway last year when a new national partnership - led by the Sports Council for Wales - was launched at the National Eisteddfod to help develop a range of schemes across Wales and use the millions in the pot to develop projects that meet the programme’s objectives.

Spelling out the benefits of the innovative new projects, Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling, said:

"It is essential that people engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week and the Welsh landscape provides the perfect backdrop to do so with its fantastic walks and cycle routes, breathtaking views and stunning scenery.

"The scheme demonstrates that people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to develop a life-long positive approach to health and fitness by simply stepping out on to their doorsteps and exploring the natural environment around them."

The programme is also helping to drive forward the Welsh Assembly Government's 'Health Challenge Wales' initiative - a national focus to secure greater ownership, commitment and action for better health, as part of a co-ordinated and sustained effort to improve levels of health in Wales.

For further information about the Mentro Allan programme, please send your enquiry to or log on to www.mentroallan.co.uk.

THE 5 SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS UNDER STAGE 2 OF MENTRO ALLAN

PROJECT NAME

LEAD

ORGANISATION

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

AWARD

AMOUNT

Outward Bounds Cardiff

Innovate Trust

The project will develop new opportunities for physical activity in local green spaces for people with disabilities in the Cardiff area, including accessible adventurous activities. A range of methods aimed at increasing levels of physical activity for the target group will be used.

£450,000

MAPD

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

The project aims to encourage participation of young people (11-25) able & disabled, living in Pembroke Dock in physical activity with an emphasis on the environment and conservation. Activities to include sailing, kayaking, climbing, cycling, orienteering, gardening.

£250,000

Mentro Allan Rhyl

Denbighshire County Council Leisure Services

The project seeks to target groups at risk of disengagement such as youths, women & girls and those unemployed or not in education through the provision of partnerships with key agencies to deliver an extensive programme of outdoor adventure opportunities. These will include cycling, water sports, climbing, sailing and sand craft utilising the natural environment and local facilities.

£300,000

Venture Out Bridgend

Bridgend County Borough Council – Sport & Recreation

The project aims to increase physical activity levels amongst the hard to reach sedentary population in the over 50-age group by increasing recreational use of the rich and diverse natural environment in the area. Activities include walking, cycling, wildlife watching and environmental work.

£450,000

Mentro Allan Swansea

City & County of Swansea – Culture & Tourism

The project aims to increase the amount of people taking part in physical activity within the outdoor environment of Swansea. The main groups to target are carers, people with mental & physical disabilities, older people & women. Activities will include walking, cycling, green gyms and outdoor adventure activities.

£450,000