Despite the wet weather, Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans and Macclesfield MP David Rutley today went abseiling and climbing with BMC president Rehan Siddiqui and BMC training officer Jon Garside to chat about the virtues of climbing and outdoor recreation.
They may be used to climbing through the political ranks, but today they enjoyed a wet climbing experience on a visit to Helsby in a climbing and abseiling session organised by the BMC to celebrate the health benefits and joys of climbing.
Helsby is Cheshire’s most important climbing cliff, lying within the National Trust Estate. While many motorway drivers speed straight past the two-tiered red sandstone crag overlooking the Mersey estuary, it offers around 200 different climbing routes for those who climb there and is also home to rare birds such as the Peregrine which climbers help to protect.
Graham and his son Tom had their first climbing and abseiling experience at Helsby, with David making a return trip to the crag, having first climbed there over twenty years previously. Graham was interested to learn how Helsby had played an important part in the development of climbing and to appreciate the many hundreds of climbs on crags in his constituency.
Graham Evans MP said: “Both Tom and I loved climbing; its great fun and a fantastic way for the whole family – young and old – to get involved in exercise together, though nothing can quite match the views when you get to the top!”
Hartford resident and local constituent, BMC president Rehan Siddiqui, said: “I’m thrilled to have shared the joys of climbing with my local MP Graham Evans and his son. Climbing is a fantastic family activity and is rapidly growing in popularity with young people.
“We’re calling for politicians to be genuine advocates for outdoor recreation – helping to champion the health benefits and to protect our countryside and green spaces. It’s great to see this in action.”
In the English countryside alone, climbers and walkers spend over £6 billion a year and support 245,000 full-time jobs. Better access to green space could save the NHS billions, while a growing body of evidence supports the view that outdoor recreation is integral to the well-being of society.
David Rutley MP, co-chair of the Mountaineering All Party Parliamentary Group who also joined the party today said: “It’s good to see interest in outdoor recreation increasing and the membership of the British Mountaineering Council growing; I think this is a sign that more people are getting outdoors and discovering the adventurous possibilities of our wonderful countryside. Outdoor activities are a positive way to tackle the challenge of physical inactivity and it is great to see more Parliamentary champions, like Graham, promoting them.”
Whilst the weather was far from ideal, Graham, Tom and David all climbed, and Graham abseiled for the first time too. The trip finished with Rehan leading a tour of the bouldering area, a well-travelled venue for a quick climb on a warm summer’s evening.
Find out more about the health benefits of rock climbing on the NHS Choices website.
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
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