PM backs Mail’s 2012 get fit bid

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PRIME Minister David Cameron has backed the Mail’s 2012 Race For Fitness campaign.

The PM hailed the campaign for its drive to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the town.

Mr Cameron heard about our battle to get Hartlepool fighting fit and asked his Minister for Public Health, Anne Milton, to write to us and back our initiative.

She did just that and her enthusiastic letter to us said: “I hope that the campaign is a great success and shall be interested to learn how it progresses.”

She hailed it as a “drive to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population” – and then added: “Well done!”

We launched Race For Fitness last month with just one aim – to get at least 2,012 people in Hartlepool and east Durham to improve their health between now and the moment the Olympic flame is lit on July 27.

We did it because Hartlepool’s health record for levels of heart disease, smoking and alcohol abuse is among the worst in the country.

More than 100 people are still dying of heart disease in Hartlepool each year, British Heart Foundation figures have shown.

One in five of Hartlepool’s population still smokes.

And in 2010, a six-month investigation into alcohol abuse showed nearly 30 per cent of Hartlepool’s drinking population downed more than the recommended daily amount of three to four units for men and two to three units for women.

So far, groups, individuals and top-level personalities have all pledged their support to Race For Fitness.

Big-name backers include Lord Sebastian Coe, Hartlepool-born Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, and former Olympian Fatima Whitbread.

Now, the UK Government has added to the groundswell of support.

Ms Milton said: “I am pleased to lend my support to the Hartlepool Mail’s drive to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population by tapping into the enthusiasm generated by hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The Government is determined to deliver a lasting health legacy from the Games and to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to encourage people to live healthier lives.

“This can only be achieved through initiatives such as this, where communities work to bring the Games to life in cities, towns and villages. I wish you the best of luck”.

We want to hear from at least 2,012 people in Hartlepool and east Durham who plan to spend this year improving their health.

You could quit smoking or drinking, take up exercise, or go on a diet.

Or do you have plans for a sponsored cycle, run, walk or swim?

It doesn’t have to be a Herculean challenge. The most important thing is that you take part in our Race For Fitness project.

Contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email to chris.cordner@northeast-press.co.uk or by calling (01429) 239377.