Heather McRobb Cat Bells ascent

“My name is Heather McRobb and I work for North Ayrshire Councils’ Roads Department.”

“The autumn step count challenge was my first – other step count challenges have been promoted by the Livewell Team at North Ayrshire Council in the past but I didn’t take part because I didn’t think I could do it.”

“A number of years ago I was diagnosed with a condition called Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, which is a rare genetic condition which affects the signals going from the brain to the lower limbs, causing weakness and spasticity.”

“It is very easy when faced with something like that to develop a ‘can’t do’ attitude, and that is why I had avoided taking part in challenges in the past.  My walking is laboured, slow and can lead to fatigue so I assumed that a challenge such as this would be beyond my capabilities.  Thankfully my partner, who shares a workplace with me, was keen on taking part and that gave me the motivation I needed to give it a try.  My condition will never improve but it may worsen so I figured that I should give it a go, while I still can.”

“As you might expect, I wasn’t expecting to do very well in the challenge.  My personal goal was to try and get 10K a day.  I set up my team, many of whom didn’t do a great deal of walking at all, and the challenge was on.”

“My team were fantastic.  I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch.  They all stepped up to the challenge (pardon the pun) and kept me going when my motivation was low.”

“I was hugely surprised by the challenge on a personal level.  I was expecting to be really tired and worn out but I actually had more energy and felt so much better in myself.”

“I managed to walk my son to school in the morning instead of taking the car (which benefited him too) and went for a walk at lunchtime.  I have certain barriers to walking and one of them is time, it takes me twice as long to walk the same distance as most people so, for me, it was all about working around these barriers.  This meant that for the lunchtime walk I drove up to Irvine harbour while my partner walked there, then we met up and walked out to the point and back to the car.  This meant that we both got a walk in but I was not overdoing it and it didn’t take too much time out of my day.  As the weeks went on, I stopped the car further down the route thereby managing to increase my step count.  I usually walk with a stick but during the challenge I used two to help with stability and speed (although my son still called me a slowpoke!)  I even managed to get 22,626 steps in one day!”

“One of the benefits of the challenge is that the members of my team are continuing their walking.  One is going on the treadmill regularly before work and the other is continuing with the lunchtime walks, which has surprised many colleagues as he would hardly walk the length of himself before the challenge!  It is a great way of showing how easy it can be to work a bit of exercise into your working day.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team and also the other North Ayrshire Council Roads team ‘The Roadies’ for providing some competition.  They beat us by around 5K steps – we will get them next time!”

“Happy New Year to all and we will see you in the spring!”