Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has revealed details of four adventures that he will attempt during 2019 as he continues to transform his life by being more active and encourage others to follow his lead. After decades of relative inactivity and poor diet, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in late 2015. Although that wasn’t a huge shock to him at the time, it was the jolt that he needed to improve his lifestyle. As well as cutting out sugary foods, Watson took up exercise and over time, he has lost seven stone (98lbs; 44.5kgs) and reversed a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
In a new initiative, he has teamed up with the UK’s Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) to set himself a series of big, and very different, challenges for 2019 that he hopes will inspire more people to get active for better health. ‘Adventures 4 Health’ will see Watson and OIA chief executive Andrew Denton tackle four activities – climbing, canoeing, cycling and swimming – to highlight the range of options available to anyone who wants to improve their health by getting active.
It begins today (18 May 2019) when he joins Andrew and other representatives from the OIA to climb Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales. They will be supported by the National Mountain Training Centre and the British Mountaineering Council and the day will showcase how easily accessible outdoor activities can play a major role in improving physical and mental wellbeing.
On 20 July, Tom will canoe a section of the Birmingham & Black Country Trails with British Canoeing, through his West Bromwich East constituency and into the heart of Birmingham, finishing at the Town Hall. Along 75km of canals, the six trails offer canoeists easy to follow routes through an area at the centre of the country that is packed with industrial heritage. Tom and Andrew will help British Canoeing champion the work that the organisation does to ensure access to water, facilities and equipment for anyone who wants to canoe.
Two weeks after the paddling challenge, they will cycle the 46-mile Prudential RideLondon road sportive in Surrey and London, finishing on The Mall, supported by Prudential Health, London Marathon Events and British Cycling. This popular event attracts thousands of cyclists of all abilities every year but this will be Tom’s first experience of riding in a sportive.
Tom’s final Adventures 4 Health challenge in 2019 will be a half-mile open water swim in the Children With Cancer UK Swim Serpentine festival in Hyde Park on 21 September, organised by London Marathon Events. Swimming is the second most popular activity in the UK (after walking) and this will demonstrate how accessible it can be, even if there isn’t an indoor pool on the doorstep.
Tom said, “Through Adventures 4 Health, I want to show other people what is possible as an individual and how easy it is to access so many different activities, in every part of the country. We face a growing inactivity epidemic in the UK and it’s killing people, but it doesn’t have to be this way and I am really pleased to be working with the Outdoor Industries Association on this positive project to promote participation. It’s no exaggeration to state that my life has been completely transformed in recent years and I hope that sharing my experience on these four events will encourage others to set off along their own path towards healthier, more active lives.”
Adventures 4 Health is being co-ordinated by Andrew Denton, chief executive of the OIA, working closely with Tom Watson’s office and in partnership with London Marathon Events, the Outdoor Industries Association, Sport & Recreation Alliance, British Canoeing, British Cycling and the British Mountaineering Council.
You can follow Tom’s progress during Adventures 4 Health on Twitter – @Tom_Watson; Andrew will also tweet updates @OIAUKCEO.