Nilu found friends and fitness at her local parkrun. Now she’s helping others do the same.
Born in Nepal, Nilu Dewan now lives in North West London. In a bid to lose weight, she began taking part in her local parkrun at Northala Fields in Northolt.
Today, Nilu has lost weight, lowered her blood pressure and been taken off the diabetes “at risk” list. And she’s so passionate about getting involved in local sport that she now helps people address their health issues – and motivate them to do more physical exercise.
How did you get involved with parkrun?
I first heard about parkrun through a member of the Nepalese community who does a lot of voluntary work locally. I like helping people and I think it’s a good way to encourage not only runners but non-runners to keep themselves fit and healthy.
How do you best like helping out?
My favourite volunteer role at parkrun is as a “tail runner”, accompanying the person at the back of the field – giving them motivation and support till the end. I know how it feels to be at the back!
What difference do you think parkrun has made to your local community?
People have started to think more seriously about their fitness and health problems, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and blood pressure. They have turned themselves from non-runners into regular runners. So it has definitely had a positive and healthy impact on our community.
It’s also become an occasion for people to meet. We’ve established a walking group for older members of the Nepalese community. They come to the parkrun and encourage the runners, then they go on their walk. The runners enjoy seeing them there and it helps the older people feel more integrated with the local community.
What have you gained personally?
Through volunteering I’ve made lots of new friends from different communities and gained the confidence to talk in front of a crowd. I feel easier about approaching people and I’ve discovered more about myself. I like to be with other people. It makes me feel happy, satisfied and supported. And we also have fun!
Has volunteering helped you with any difficult periods in your life?
Yes. When the earthquakes struck in Nepal in 2015, the parkrunners were very supportive. They held a fundraising event that raised nearly £2,000. It helped knowing that everyone at parkrun was thinking of us and our families back in Nepal, and cared about what we were going through.
We are delighted that dozens of parkrun events have signed up to be part of the nation’s biggest sports day on Saturday 27 August.