WHEN Eric Dudley fell from a ladder, breaking both his ankles and feet, doctors warned he may never walk properly again.

Not being one to be told what he could or could not do, the 74-year-old, from Upper Stratton, joined one of the district’s health walk groups. The leisurely strolls and gentle exercise allowed him to fully recover from the accident.

Four years on, the retired decorator clocks up 20 miles each week and is determined to spread the word about the benefits of walking ahead of Swindon’s Get Moving Month in May.

He said: “I knew instantly it was a really bad fall because the pain was excruciating. I had to crawl to the car and get someone to drive me to hospital.

“The x-ray radiographer said they had never seen anything like it, then the specialist’s prognosis was equally bleak.

“I ended up having 13 metal skewers inserted in my feet and was told I would probably never walk any distance again.”

After spending three months recovering in a wheelchair, Eric took action.

He said: “I thought ‘I’m not having this; there’s no point moping about and feeling sorry for myself because nobody else will’. I’ve always been a very active person and it was high time to find my stride again.

“It all started with going on a health walk, which was just a couple of miles or so at a comfortable pace. I built up slowly and can now manage a brisk six-miler. It has been absolutely brilliant for me physically and is also a great way to meet new people.

“There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie and we all share a joke. Although the pain in my ankles is always there, it fades away with the great atmosphere.

“Afterwards we’ll have a cuppa or with the longer walks you stop off and enjoy a pub lunch.”

Get Moving Month kicks off at 11am on Saturday, May 3, at Pinetrees Community Centre in Pinehurst, when everyone is invited to join in a leisurely hour of walking and taking in the beautiful surroundings of Seven Fields Nature Reserve.

The stroll is one of 40 events scheduled during the month of action.

For a detailed timetable of events visit www.leisureinswindon.co.uk/get-moving, pick up a brochure at council libraries and leisure centres or call 01793 465413.

Free health walks take place each week at:

  • Lower Shaw Farm, Monday 2pm
  • St Paul’s Church Hall, Covingham, Monday 2pm
  • John Moulton Hall, Penhill, Monday 10am (from May 12 onwards)
  • Toothill Community Centre, Tuesday 10am
  • Broadgreen Community Centre, Tuesday 10am
  • Buckhurst Fields Community Centre, Walcot, Wednesday 10am
  • Haydon Leisure Centre, Thursday 10am
  • Haydon Leisure Centre, Thursday 1pm
  • Ellendune Centre, Wroughton, Thursday 10am
  • Pinetrees Community Centre, Pinehurst, Friday 10am
  • Derryck Evans House, Liden, Friday 10.30am