WALX Preston

Matt Gibbs - WALX Master

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We love to empower people of all ages and abilities to be regularly active in the outdoors.

Whether you are from a business, charity, workplace, or school or you’re simply looking to improve your fitness, boost your mood and meet other people on interesting walks in exciting locations then we have a solution for you.

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Activities by WALX Preston

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We’re under constant stress today. We feel pressure to achieve more, to be better, to beat the Joneses, to move up the ladder – and handle all the other aspects of life. Current challenges include inflation levels that no one has had to cope with for years. You might also be juggling kids’ extracurricular activities,

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AGE UK Walk Your Age fundraiser a Success for Walk Preston


When one of our  WALX franchise colleagues suggested  Walx Preston also participate in the national AGE UK Run/Walk your age fundraising event I thought of all the lonely people out there wishing they had someone to talk to. I thought “Yes, we should do that.” I wasn’t sure how many of our members would bite, […]

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Navigating our Way to New Heights


We’ve doubled the Team at Walx Preston throughout the lockdowns and I’m really excited to tell you in coming blog posts what we’ve been up to behind the scenes to create an even bigger impact on the health and wellbeing of the people of #Lancashire. We’re still a small business locally, but throughout the last year […]

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Walk Your Way to More Fundraising


The Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect. Be Active. Take Notice. Keep Learning. Give) are simple and proven actions that people can introduce to help themselves find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing. At Walx Preston we are always keen to encourage all aspects of the 5 Ways amongst our members for their […]

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Meet the Team

Matt Gibbs

Role: Chief Motivator

After transforming his health in 2011 Matt has been helping others around the world make significant changes in their health and wellbeing.

Matt is the Walx Master at Walx Preston and is a keen advocate for encouraging our members to share their diverse skills and quirks to the benefit of the whole community.

Matt’s vision is to create a community of 10000+ people across the wider Preston area from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who share the common goal of walking and talking together to shape their own wellbeing, and in doing so make Preston the healthiest city in the UK.

Everybody would want their kids to be in the best of health and flourish throughout their life. Likewise, nobody would want to see their parents suffer a miserable decline in health in later years. We therefore find ourselves with the task of becoming the example to inspire, educate, motivate and support our family, friends and colleagues build their health, strength, and fitness each and every day.

We hope you will join us.

Di Duckworth

Role: Chief of Social Events

Di is the Social Committee Manager and heads up the team that organises social events and outings for our members. Di is also a Walx Guide.

Di took early retirement in 2015 after almost 30 years in a sedentary office job. She frequently suffered with lower back pain as a result of hours sitting hunched over a computer.

Having seen a leaflet advertising Nordic Walking in the chiropractors she found the idea of this attractive for a number of reasons. Firstly it was a step up from the canal side strolls she was currently doing so she would be able to up her fitness and hopefully assist her weight loss goals. But more importantly it meant she would not be restricted to where and when she could walk which she was when walking on her own. It gave Di confidence to know she would be walking in company.

Walx attracts people from different age groups and backgrounds so there is always someone to chat to and a post walk coffee is often suggested. The group sizes vary depending on the time of day and venue but Di has found it a wonderful way to meet people and has made some great new friends.

We are a very sociable group so there are regular opportunities to meet up for meals, trips to the theatre or cinema and even holidays or weekends away.

Angela Clarke

Role: Chief Angel

Angela is a Walx Guide for Walx Preston.

Angela Clarke joined a Learn To Nordic Walk session in November 2016. She admits that on joining it she had no intention of joining a walking group, but instead thought it was a way of participating in Saturday morning park runs at Avenham Park, without putting the stress on her joints and sustaining an injury as she had done while ‘jogging’ the free 5k park runs.
Angela was hooked from the first session and loved it so much that a year later she became a walk leader.
Angela was part of the Nordic Walking Preston delivery team and is looking forward to introducing more people to the group through Walx Preston.
As a Mental Health Professional Angela appreciates the importance of physical activity and social inclusion and believes that simple fun activities can improve a person’s quality of life … at any age and at any ability level.

Lenka Gibbs

Role: Chief of Belief

Lenka is a Walx Guide for Walx Preston.

Lenka has been involved with Nordic walking since her husband Matt started developing the Nordic walking group in Preston. She originally accompanied Matt on his walks to “help out” but soon realized how much personal gain and benefit she gets from regular physical exercise and social interaction with the group members.

Lenka moved to the U.K. in 2008 and starting her life from scratch in a foreign country has not always been easy. The group has provided Lenka with so many wonderful connections, enormously improving her self-confidence and most importantly it has brought her lifetime friendships and a feeling of belonging. Something Lenka has been missing for a long time since relocating to the U.K.

The Nordic Walking Preston group has truly become another family for the entire Gibbs family – Lenka, Matt, their son Johnny and daughter Ellie all take part in various groups activities such as Explorer walks, official and “unofficial” social events.

Lenka is proud to be Walx Guide for Walx Preston. As the group has given so much to her, she wants to give back so she is always there for anyone who wants to have a chat about life, children or anything they want to get off their chest whilst walking.

Chris Lomas

Role: Chief Community Chatterer

Chris is a member of the Social Committee and participates in organising social events and walks for our members.

A friend introduced me to Matt and Nordic Walking in June 2016 a challenging time in my life.

I suffer with epilepsy and found myself lost and alone with no confidence and very low self-esteem.

I had kept myself reasonably fit with walking, fell-walking and going to the gym and found I instantly took to Nordic Walking as a new way of exercising. 

I have now completed several 10k Walk competitions and had the confidence and belief to complete the 21 mile Preston Guild Wheel Walk all with the help and encouragement which has come from the truly wonderful and very dear friends I’ve made. I couldn’t imagine my life without them all or the Nordic Walking now.

Gill Finn

Role: Chief Stuntwoman

Gill is a Walx Guide for Walx Preston.

After having to give up running due to a back injury a friend suggested I give Nordic Walking a try. I took my taster session in January 2017 and was immediately hooked. I completed my course in February 2017 and since then there has been no stopping me.
After a month of walking I was signed off by my physio as my back and core had vastly improved. To the point that I have been able to take myself up to the Lake District for some hill walking.
I have made many new friends through Nordic Walking which was another bonus after living abroad for 18 years.
Together we encourage and help each other with our group walks and challenges. Always looking to the future for further activities and challenges. Walx Preston is not just a walking group but a family.

Gill Mason

Role: Chief Opportunity Seeker

Gill is a Walx Guide for Walx Preston.

I was looking for ways to improve my general health and fitness without it impacting on my weekends with the family. Knowing that the children would be leaving home in a few years to go to university I was also looking for things to do so I wasn’t bored when they went and that I would be sat at home twiddling my thumbs. Nordic walking fit the bill perfectly and I was amazed at how much better I felt after only a short time. I was welcomed into the group which has continued with the activities we do, whether it be nordic walks or a social activity. There is such a variety and there is nothing better than coming to the finish of a 10K race and be cheered on by everyone. It is such a fun, active, social group I wouldn’t be without it now, always there to support you when you need it.

Rob Molyneux

Role: Chief Fixer

Rob is a veteran Therapist/Exercise Physiologist of over 25 years who is able to fix you and and make you feel better after just three sessions of his unique New Vision Therapy Program or you don’t have to pay.

Rob loves being in the outdoors and is an orienteering instructor, keen cyclist and walker and is someone who loves to be out in the open and connect with nature through his training in stress management, yoga and mindfulness. He advocates stopping each day to ‘Have a look at the day’ to help with your mental health especially if done in an extensive outdoor space such as a park. As a therapist he regularly encourages his clients to walk instead of running to preserve their physical health over rime or to build it up.

He loves to walk and go off the beaten track to see a more varied, rare types of wildlife and always has his monocular available to get a closer look at the local wildlife. He regular takes wildlife/natural pictures and posts them on social media for everyone to enjoy.

Being some who loves a natter and connecting with people of all ages there is nothing more that he likes to do than walking and talking in a picturesque outdoor environment.

Ginny Ritchens

Role: Chief of Mischief

I have always been involved in exercise since I can remember. I was in the army for a time
during my 20’s and so exercise was also part of my job as well as my social time. I have done
many forms of exercise and during my 30’s my passion was running. I entered many half
marathons but eventually found it difficult to carry on due to recurrent injuries which left me
seeking an alternative. At first I found gym work quite interesting. I even did my Personal
training level 3 certificate. But something didn’t quite fit for me. Gym work was a lot about how
you look visually, and not how you felt. I realised that I was craving an activity that would make
me feel good mentally and not just keep me physically fit and healthy.
There’s something about being outside in all weathers, connecting back to nature. This was
something I really enjoyed during my running years. And the support from being able to be part
of a running group, connecting with like minded people, I really missed. I had remembered the
Nordic Walking from when I participated in park run they would be walking alongside us. So I
decided to give it a go. To be honest I didn’t think I would like it as I thought it would be less
intense than other exercise I was used to. I was surprised! It really is an all over body technique
which you can make intense quite easily!
I have been walking with Walx Preston for some time now and decided to become a Walx
Guide to challenge myself. I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for most of my adult
life. Stepping into the limelight is something I usually try to avoid! Being a nurse I realise there
are so many people out there suffering with mental health conditions as well as a lack of
connection to others. I would like to try to help these people as the group has really help me find
community and a sense of belonging.

Heather Bell

Role: Chief Guardian

Looking for a new challenge and something to boost the body, mind and soul I came across Walx Preston online and was drawn to the mixture of fitness, wellbeing, friendship and social activities that were offered and joined in January of 2020.  I haven’t looked back since!

Spending time outdoors in our beautiful countryside, developing new friendships, discovering new places (even on your doorstep) alongside improving my fitness has now become such a pleasure.  Moving on to being a Walk Leader seemed a natural step, where I can also help others to discover the wonders of this group.  I love it and hope you will come along too!


Sean Bolland

Role: Chief of Navigation

Sean is a Walx Guide and Navigation Tutor for Walx Preston.

Sean has decades of experience out on the trails going back to an early age. I have done plenty of orienteering, hiking, mountain biking and fell running but in recent years have taken to Nordic Walking. I continued my love of outdoor pursuits alongside my career in property, town planning and business, however since 2015, I have been able to pursue my passion for all things outdoor full time.

I love leading groups of all ability but like to encourage people to consider pushing the boundaries to take on more adventurous walks.

I deliver Navigation Courses, both online and face to face. I keep them nice and simple and take the mystery out of using map and compass!

Sue Spall

Role: Chief of Towpaths

I started Nordic walking about 3 1/2 years ago. I  was already doing a lot of walking especially to and from work but wanted something to replace the gym also. Using the poles meant more of a workout so fitted my need very well.
I worked as a theatre nurse, running a very busy theatre so walking became my time to turn things over in my mind and get rid of the day as well as enjoying the outdoors and listening to all the nature, which you realise carries on, come what may, and helps you rationalise.
You soon realise that this group is so very friendly and you do not have to walk in silence or on your own as there is always someone happy to chat. My son teases me by keeping reminding me that I said ‘I didn’t join to make friends’ particularly, but I have made some very good friends.
There are some fabulous walking areas within a short distance from Preston and I really enjoy exploring and then showing new walks to like-minded people.

Sue Watson

Role: Chief of Wellness

I started Nordic Walking in June 2020 after having been a member of gyms for over 40 years. I have spent 30 years in Retail, 20 as a shop manager and 10 years owning the company selling sewing machines and associated products. I cycle, enjoy swimming and I have always liked walking. Because the gyms shut due to the Coronavirus I knew I had to look for something else. I suffer from Asthma so I need to keep fit. I saw some Nordic walkers while out cycling, looked on the net and found an advertisement for the Walx Preston group. Since then I have never looked back. I enjoy the walking and being with the other walkers, I have made so many friends. I firmly believe that you must ‘use it or lose it’.

Steph Ashton

Role: Chief of Challenges

I joined Walx Preston November 2020, the goal was to improve my general fitness and assist my recovery from Covid. At the time I didn’t even own a pair of walking shoes let alone a waterproof coat!

Everyone made me so welcome, I felt walking gave me a new purpose in life…..go walking, chitter chatter with friends and everything felt good in the world!

Very quickly my physical and mental health improved, along with my

self-belief and determination to try new things. Setting myself challenges, that before Walx, were only a dream. With the support, encouragement, and friendship from the group anything is possible!

I’ve developed a love of the outdoors, nature, discovering that the rain really doesn’t matter and now I adore mud! The best part is the wonderful friendships made and sharing new experiences along the way.

A perfect day is a long walk, exploring a new path I have never seen before, include a few hills or the odd mountain, Walx friends for the fun and laughter and ideally, a big blue sky!

Joining Walx was the best decision I made in 2020. I hope to support others in being the best version of themselves whilst improving their health, well-being and making new friends along the way.


from members of WALX Preston

Improving my health and fitness used to feel like a challenge

Since joining Walx Preston in January I now can’t wait for the next walk .... everyone being so friendly, chatty, supportive ... exactly what you would want from any exercise group.... and now circle of friends.

Heather Bell, 56

One of the best decisions

Joining Preston Walx was one of the best decisions I’ve made in ages!! 💕💕 Such a lovely bunch of like minded folk I could ever have wished to meet. They make me feel ... included, happy, we laugh a lot about everything, walking in the rain with them is fun, inspired, optimistic, healthier, challenge me, get me going when I thought my get up and go had got up and gone!! They’ve been a lifeline when it’s got a bit dark and have taught me what friendship is all about. So pleased to part of our merry little band. Even though I’ve only just joined, I feel like I’ve always been part of the team. I love you guys!! Thank you so much to each and every one of you xx

Chris Aldridge, 47

Asthma symptoms improve

Hi Matt, I had my asthma review today and I was telling the nurse all about nordic walking and how much better I feel.

Susan Watson, 70