BY the end of last year’s Beat the Street, 31,892 people had walked, jogged, scooted, cycled or otherwise propelled themselves 313,353 miles between electronic Beat Boxes across Swindon.

Swindon’s was the most successful of all Beat the Streets, not just across the country but in the history of the event.

Stuart Arthur still marvels at the number of participants.

“To put that into context, it would pretty much fill the County Ground twice,” he said.

“It’s an incredible amount of players taking part in a physical activity programme – going out and walking, cycling, scooting.

“Swindon has an appetite to do these kinds of things well. I think the geography of the town suited it, because we were able to put out a lot of boxes.

“There are some good cycle networks, and we can’t overlook that we had some really nice weather. The environment was good for getting out and about.

“Swindon has also got some great green spaces – Coate Water, Lydiard Park, Seven Fields – and lots of little pockets of nature around, so people were going out and enjoying those.

“It created a momentum, a buzz, an enthusiasm; we had people out on the streets and success breeds success. People were saying to each other, ‘Oh, are you doing Beat the Street?’ and I think it became a collective achievement.

“Then, once the miles added up and people could see how far they were going, some competitiveness came into it. Schools were eager to maintain their place on the leader board; community groups were eager to maintain their place on the leader board; individuals wanted to hit their own personal challenges.

“There was a sense of community. You’d be stood at a Beat Box and start a conversation. ‘Where have you been? What have you seen? Are you enjoying it?’”

Stuart, who grew up in Swindon, worked as a lifeguard before becoming a sports centre manager.

He is employed by Wiltshire and Swindon Sport, a network of local agencies committed to promoting healthy physical activity.

“Sport, physical activity and wellbeing are all interconnected.

“I think that once people find something that motivates them it can change their life. I’ve seen that happen on numerous occasions with numerous people who have had real challenges.

“It’s about people taking ownership of their own physical activity, their own levels of engagement and actually going out and doing more.

“It’s about being able to suggest opportunities for families and individuals to be able to do that.”

Beat the Street, he insists, is different from other exercise promotions in that it caters for all, whether they are part of a team, a school or a community group or prefer simply to set their own pace and goals.

“I think it’s people just having a different attitude toward physical activity. What this has helped to do is change perceptions. ‘Can I walk to school?’ ‘Can I walk to work?’ ‘If I try and make time, if I prioritise an extra 15 minutes in the morning, it can reduce the number of short distance commutes.’

“We had stories of children saying, ‘There’s half an hour before tea - can we go out and do some beat boxes?’ That was instead of sitting around, watching television or playing with a tablet.

“It changed attitudes - exercise is not just about a £30 to £50 gym membership, going out and buying lots of equipment to become physically active.

“You can track your mileage, you can become as competitive as you want, but you’re playing it at your own time.

“A lot of structured sport is around the necessity to have all the people in the same place at the same time, and if you’re not able to do that, then you can often think it’s not for you, whereas this puts the ownership and the decision-making back among the people who are playing – about when you want to do it, how you want to do it and how often you want to do it.

“You can do it at any age, any ability. You’re competing against yourself, so you’re not the one always at the back of the field.”

The Beat the Street website - - has full details and lists places where maps are available.