The Heart Foundation has today announced four inspiring Aussies as winners in the 2021 Golden Shoe Awards.
Run annually by Heart Foundation Walking, the Golden Shoe Awards recognise people who have made an exceptional contribution to walking. This year’s winners are:
Category: Courage and Commitment
Winner: Ian Watson, VIC
Three years ago, at the age of 72, Ian knew he had to make some changes in his life. Ian was severely overweight, which put him at risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. He took up walking, exploring the streets around his suburb of Altona Meadows in Melbourne.
Keen to join a walking group, and being a Western Bulldogs fan, Ian contacted the club’s Sons of the West program to see if they had one. The answer was no, but the club encouraged Ian to start a Heart Foundation Walking group in his area. Since its inception in May 2019, the Meadows Walkers has grown from two members to more than 90 and strides out together five times a week.
Ian is the group’s Walk Organiser. He enjoys the social interaction with other walking enthusiasts, along with the health benefits. Since he started walking regularly, Ian has lost an astounding 35 kilograms.
Category: Wellness Warrior
Winner: Ruby McGrow, NSW
Ruby arrived in Australia from the UK more than half a century ago and, never having driven, walking was how she got around. It kept her happy and healthy, but last year she found herself less physically active by sad necessity.
Frank, her husband of 57 years, was very ill and she nursed him at home. Sadly, Frank passed away in June 2020. After she lost him, Ruby struggled to get motivated to be active. However, knowing Frank would not want her to mope about at their home in Sydney’s North Ryde, Ruby connected with Heart Foundation Walking at age 81.
Ruby prefers to walk by herself rather than in a group. She hits her local trails, aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Ruby is a prolific poster in the Heart Foundation Walking Facebook group, sharing pictures of vivid flowers, cool streams and sleepy lizards she encounters on her walks.
Category: Zero to Hero
Winner: Sharon Wood, QLD
From her first day with the Wishart Walkers in March 2018, Sharon proved herself to be a Heart Foundation Walking devotee. Each month, she consistently completes more walks than any other member, recently reaching a milestone of 1,500 walks.
When the Heart Foundation ran a challenge for members to clock up one million steps, Sharon was the first Queenslander and the fourth person nationally to complete it.
Sharon, 57, who is from the Brisbane suburb of Eight Miles Plains, also trained to be a volunteer Walk Organiser. So in addition to walking with her original group, she now also runs a second Wishart Walkers group, which has more than 30 members and walks seven afternoons a week.
Members find her an inspiration and a positive role model because of her walking consistency, thoughtfulness and meticulous recording of their walking statistics.
Winner: Carol Webb, NSW
Carol has been a member of the Illawarra Walkers for almost 15 years, and has been the group’s Walk Organiser for most of that time.
The group walks together every Tuesday morning after meeting at the North Wollongong Surf Lifesaving Club. There are about 40 members, but even if the weather is poor and only four come along, Carol will be one of them. Once, she even turned up with a broken ankle to record walkers’ names before they set off.
About seven years ago, Carol suggested that anyone wanting to donate to the Heart Foundation could put a gold coin in the kitty each week. To date, the group has donated almost $7000.
Carol, 78, is described as being quiet, reliable, encouraging and caring. She calls absent walkers to check they are okay and will wait for latecomers. Group members have a variety of abilities; Carol matches walkers together perfectly, so the distance covered and pace suits everyone.
Heart Foundation Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton, congratulated this year’s Golden Shoe Award winners.
“These award recipients have all demonstrated a wonderful commitment to walking, which will in turn inspire and encourage others to be more physically active. This is important, because being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease, which continues to be the single leading cause of death in Australia.
“Getting involved in Heart Foundation Walking is a great way to ensure you meet the recommended minimum 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, and as our winners can attest, it can also be a source of great fun and friendship.”
The winners will each receive a gift card and a Golden Shoe Award pin.
Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and SportAUS.