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Walking champions win national award  

Dan Raven-Ellison and Muslimah Sports Association have been named as the joint winners of Living Streets’ Charles Maher Award - Walking Champion 2023. 

The Living Streets Charles Maher Award - Walking Champion 2023 recognises an individual, local group or organisation that has campaigned to benefit people in their local community.   

The charity received a number of nominations, which were shortlisted down to six. All the candidates have found creative solutions to make streets safer, cleaner and more accessible.  

Shortlisted candidates hailed from Edinburgh, Horsham, Norwich, Nottingham, and East London.  

Dan Raven-Ellison and Muslimah Sports Association received the most votes from members of Living Streets, the UK charity of everyday walking. Their win was announced at Living Streets’ AGM, hosted in London (27 November). 

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said:  

“The Living Streets Charles Maher Award celebrates people doing extraordinary things to improve the places where they live, and I’m delighted to see such worthy joint winners this year. 

“Both Dan and Muslimah Sports Association have made it easier and more accessible for people in their communities to walk and keep active locally, and that makes a huge difference to their health and quality of life. 

“I’d like to thank them – and our shortlisted nominees – for their commitment to transforming streets into safer and more attractive places.” 

Yashmin Harun from Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) said: 

“I was really surprised and honoured to receive this award because we don't always realise the impact that we're making. In the community we have women who are too scared to come out of the house by themselves. MSA provides the escapism to be your individual self and make friendships that ultimately become sisterhoods. 

“Through this walking photography project, they didn’t just learn a new skill; they grew in confidence too. We saw the women bloom just like the flowers they photographed.” 

Dan Raven Ellison said: 

“For me and for millions of other people, walking gives joy, hope and imagination, and improves our mental well-being, mental and physical health, productivity and creativity. I think of Slow Ways as a walking network that makes it easier for people to walk from one place to another. 

“This award not only celebrates my work with Slow Ways but it also acknowledges all the thousands of volunteers who have contributed their time and energy to this work.” 

Charles Maher Award 2023 winners

Joint first place: Dan Raven-Ellison, Slow Ways (London)   

Dan is the founder of Slow Ways, an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting Great Britain’s towns, cities, and villages. He mobilised 700 volunteers during the spring 2020 lockdown, creating a unique Slow Ways map in the process. There are over 8,000 Slow Ways stretching for over 120,000 kms. The map is free to encourage people to walk more often, further and for more purposes.  

Joint first place: Muslimah Sports Association (Redbridge) 

Muslimah Sports Association supports the mental and physical health of like-minded women where they are free to participate in sports without compromising their religious or cultural beliefs.  They started ten years ago as a small group of basketball players and now they provide a range of projects. Women in their community often feel unsafe walking alone, so they ran a project organising photography walks as a community activity which enabled them to feel secure and encouraged them to explore the spaces around where they live. These walks also give an opportunity to them to get active, share skills, engage with the environment, and connect with other women from their communities.  

Second place: Kirsten Griew (Edinburgh) 

Kirsten is a local champion who leads two weekly walks for older adults in her community, including one for people with dementia. For the 15-20 participants, this is the only time that they go out, and the seaside chats that follow provide a great opportunity for socialising. Kirsten, who is passionate about history, folklore and the landscape around her. She coordinates 14 other walk leaders, ensuring that older adults get out and about every week.  

Third place: Liam Calvert, Norwich Living Streets (Norwich) 

Liam is a passionate and dedicated campaigner who offers practical solutions to the local authorities to make the streets safer and frequently highlights issues faced by pedestrians and cyclists in the local media. As a result of his efforts, the police have started fining drivers who abuse restrictions on pedestrianised streets and the council has taken action to prevent vehicles driving on pavements. He co-runs Norwich Living Streets Local Group and encourages people to improve the walking environment for everyone. 

 

About the author

Sarah Philpott

Communications Coordinator, Living Streets / sarah.philpott@livingstreets.org.uk