Married couple, George and Norma Priestly feel proud to have completed the Trafford Leisure Physical Activity Referral earlier this year.

Active Living Manager Rachael Forde says: “George and Norma have made huge progress since they first started coming in January 2018. They are a popular couple in the gym, and I’m delighted for them to have started their graduate membership, allowing them to attend Partington and Urmston Leisure Centre three times a week.

The couple, aged in their seventies, have various health complications that have taken their toll on their lifestyle and enjoyment of life. George says: “Before I retired, I was physically very active, working outside. But things change once you stop work. Everything just slows down.”

Norma was diagnosed with Type two diabetes in 1987. The condition was regulated with medication, but by 1996 Norma had moved on to using insulin. Worryingly, on the 29th July 2013 Norma went into a diabetic coma for ten days and, as a result of her existing crushed carpal syndrome, had to have her right arm amputated above the elbow.

It was her Diabetes Dietitian, Helen Whittaker, that referred the couple to Trafford Leisure. Norma says: “Without the referral, there was no way we would have ever considered joining the gym. It was the last thing I wanted to do. But I feel so much better now, my cholesterol is under control, I’m getting more sleep, and I’m happier in myself and starting to look forward to holidays.”

George, who retired in 2015, suffers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and is Norma’s full time carer. He says: “It’s great to get out of the house and do something together. We’ve met some lovely people and are making new friends.

“We both have very specific and complicated health conditions and our referral gym instructor, Phil McAuley, was very informed and couldn’t have been more helpful. We had four one-to-one sessions with Phil during our eight week referral programme. He was very encouraging and has subsequently increased our regimes. I’m now pressing 20kg weights and am already on level five on the hill walks on the treadmill! I’m delighted.”

Norma says: “I still can’t believe we’re gym members! We have no intention of stopping. I was very nervous about coming to the gym before the referral, I didn’t want anyone to look at me, but we’ve been made to feel very welcome. I really enjoy my sessions in the gym and feel that it’s given us much more stamina for everyday life.”

Rachael Forde concludes: “Norma and George are setting a fantastic example to us all, doing approximately 180 minutes of dedicated exercise per week. This is a fantastic achievement and in line with NHS recommendations. I look forward to seeing them progress even further and enjoying life even more.”