Celebrating Gloucestershire’s Changemakers: Active Gloucestershire Announces Finalists for Community Photography Project

Active Gloucestershire, the driving force behind the "We Can Move" movement, is thrilled to unveil the finalists for its community changemaker photogr

Lizzie Homer

21 Mar 2024

Community photography project brand

Active Gloucestershire, the driving force behind the "We Can Move" movement, is thrilled to unveil the finalists for its community changemaker photography project, shining a spotlight on individuals who are making a positive impact in Gloucestershire’s communities by going above and beyond to support people to get active.


After receiving an overwhelming number of nominations from across the county, the judging panel had the challenging task of selecting 10 changemakers whose stories resonated deeply with the spirit of the project and reflected the core principles of  we can move; inspire, connect and enable.


The Finalists:

Holi Courtney-Ward, founder and teacher at The He4t dance group

Holi runs dance classes in Tewkesbury and Evesham for all ages and abilities. Holi believes dancing isn’t just for “dancers” and wants people who enjoy dancing to have a space to do so.

Holi runs a variety of dance classes for children, adult beginners and adult intermediates as well as a class called ‘The Dames’ which is specifically for ladies over 40!

Holi said “There aren’t many of these classes locally and I’ve had amazing feedback from my current members. Many of the participants say these classes are more than ‘just a dance class’. It gives them the ‘I can do it’ attitude that they may well lack as well as a confidence to give things a go that might be out of their comfort zone.”


Aaron Davies, Health and Wellbeing Coach at GL Communities.

Aaron offers one-to-one coaching, leads walking groups and yoga sessions.

He believes moving the body creates a free mind and wants his sessions to help people with their self-belief, confidence, independence, weight management, movement patterns, and overall health and wellbeing.


Keasha Kellam, Founder of Honour Thy Woman Group's Wellbeing Programme

Via the Honour Thy Woman Group’s Wellbeing Programme, Keasha runs activities to promote creativity, health and wellbeing. This includes walks in nature, foraging, yoga and mobility.

The group participants are all survivors of domestic abuse and know what it feels like to be isolated. These groups help women to self-care, socialise and escape the trauma of abuse. It offers them a safe space and the opportunity to meet with women who share similar experiences. Peer mentors join the participants and encourage them to take part and lead a healthy and active lifestyle to help them improve their wellbeing.


MaryClare Faulkner, Inclusive Cycling Lead at Goals Beyond Grass

MaryClare set up the Gloucestershire Wheels for All project in 2016 with the national charity Leonard Cheshire. With the help of many volunteers and colleagues she now delivers inclusive cycling around Gloucestershire with the local charity Goals Beyond Grass.

MaryClare is passionate about enabling people who would otherwise be unable to cycle, to enjoy the activity in safe, off-road environments. The project provides access to a range of adapted bikes which enable people to enjoy the freedom, well-being and physical exercise and social interactions that cycling allows. The carers and family members who accompany the participants can also benefit from all the above as well as the volunteers.


Yacoob Patel, Volunteer Coach at Rising Stars YFC

Yacoob is a volunteer coach at Rising Stars FC who delivers football sessions in Barton and Tredworth. He has been a pivotal in driving participation in an underrepresented and diverse community of young people. He coaches children from age 8 - 14, offering turn up and play sessions every Sunday morning, as well as Saturday matches. He goes far beyond a typical club coach and has been instrumental in the success for Rising Stars youth football.

The club has over 10 nationalities that are united with the love of football and, under the influential and dedication of their coach, Yacoob, they come together to show the power sport can have.


Sinéad Byrne, Head Instructor at Kenbu Dojo

Sinéad teaches martial arts but gives lots of other opportunities for her students to get active or just be social together in a supportive and comfortable environment.  Sinéad said “Most of my members feel like an extended family, meaning they have a safe space to be themselves and have support of either myself or others through life’s many ups and downs and so I l love to support them and be their biggest cheerleader inside and outside of our club.”

Sinéad is passionate about making a difference and feels that if she can make one person’s life better for doing what she does, then every day will always be worth it.


Lara Attwood and Sam Quinson, Social Prescribing Link Workers for Caring for Communities and People/NHS & Cheltenham Central Primary Care Network

A duo of changemakers; Lara and Sam support the local community in their general wellbeing goals and encourage patients to actively work towards healthier, happier lifestyles. As part of their role as Social Prescribing Link Workers, they run a fortnightly walking group which they encourage patients to join to give them the opportunity to get out of the house, meet new people, and benefit from some light exercise. They also support people who are unable to get out and about through links to online exercise classes.

Lara and Sam are passionate about helping people combat social isolation and manage pain through physical activity. They believe exercise is a solution to many problems, both mentally and physically.


Marguerita Mills, Volunteer for the Wellbeing Garden Project for the Independence

Marguerita supports people to get active in a different way. Through the Wellbeing Garden Project, she encourages people to get outside and do some gardening, whether it be digging, planting, pruning or mowing.

Marguerita loves gardening and encourages others to do the same. She spends time connecting with participants, understanding their needs, abilities and interests and then showing them how to do different projects. Marguerita shows her appreciation for what participants have achieved and likes to check in with them to see how they are progressing.


Léla Thomas, Founder and Director of SOH Fit Community Fitness Sessions

Léla is a fitness instructor in Gloucester; she has recently opened a ladies only fitness studio focused on supporting women's optimal health and delivers community exercise classes for older adults too. She offers a variety of fitness classes and personal training services that cater to diverse needs. Lela’s  aim to cultivate a supportive and motivating atmosphere within her fitness studio where women feel comfortable, encouraged, and empowered to embrace their fitness journey, regardless of their starting point.

Léla is deeply passionate about supporting residents to achieve their optimal health and well-being. Lela said “As a fitness instructor, I have personally experienced the transformative power of exercise and healthy living, and I am committed to sharing that experience with others. I believe that everyone, especially women, deserves to feel strong, confident, and capable in their own body, and I am dedicated to providing the resources and support necessary to help them achieve that.”


Marion Simmonds, Volunteer Walk Leader for Charlies Community Support

Marion became a volunteer at Charlies after she was supported by the Charity through her cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.  Marion has since become a volunteer who offers organised walks for people affected by cancer. Marion also arranges and advertises the walks, as well as organising a place where participants can meet for a coffee after the walk. 


As someone who has first hand experience of having had cancer, Marion offers a listening ear, talks from her own experience and is a calming support to anyone that she can help.



Tom Beasley, CEO of Active Gloucestershire said: "These finalists represent the heart and soul of our community, embodying the values of dedication, inspiration, and positive change.

“Their commitment to promoting physical activity and fostering healthier lifestyles has had a profound impact on the lives of Gloucestershire residents, and we are honoured to celebrate their contributions."


The finalists will each have a special photography portrait taken to accompany their inspiring stories. These photos will be taken by local photographer Emma Dunleavy-Harris. Along with narratives highlighting their remarkable efforts; these photos will be showcased at various community exhibitions across Gloucestershire.


Additionally, the selected individuals will be invited to the We Can Move event on 9th May at Kingsholm Stadium, where their portraits will be unveiled, further recognising their invaluable contributions to the community.


Stay tuned for updates and follow us on social media to find out more about our finalists and where you will be able to see the exhibition across the county this summer.

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Lizzie Homer
21 Mar 2024

Head of Communications and Marketing