A VOLUNTEER who stepped in to help a colleague with a charity event has seen it become a running success.

Emma Sperring, 35, of Redhouse, is a healthy weight project officer for Swindon Council leisure services and helped to set up the Swindon Park Run two-and-a-half years ago.

The group started with just 30 runners but has boomed over the years, with more than 300 runners now taking part in the event at Lydiard Park.

Emma, who is a keen runner herself, got involved with the group when a colleague at Swindon Council asked her to lend a hand with the first ever run and she has been volunteering ever since.

The expectant mum became the fourth recipient of the Adver’s Unsung Hero Award this week and was presented with a bouquet of flowers from florist George Lesley, after being nominated by a host of people.

She said: “I was just amazed when I found out. I’m flattered by it all really.

“I didn’t expect it at all – what I do is something I love doing and it is not just me, there are lots of volunteers who make it happen.

“What is great about the run is that it is for all abilities. We have people pushing prams around the course or power walking, and even disabled people.

“I did not realise there were so many people keen on running in Swindon, our biggest turnout has been 330.

“I like running myself but I wanted to volunteer for this as my way of giving a small bit back and the group has become a real community.

“We have people going for coffee together afterwards and things like that, so it is a nice atmosphere and it is all about beating your own time each week.”

Swindon Parkrun is a free weekly 5km event for runners of all standards, which takes place every Saturday at 9am in Lydiard Park, in front of the main house.

It is not a race against other runners, but a 5k timed run. Organisers say that it can be whatever the runners want it to be, whether that is for fun or as part of a wider training plan.

To take part, people must register at www.parkrun.org.uk/swindon to get a unique bar code which they will need for their run.