SOUTH Tyneside’s civic leader was racking up some “mayor” miles yesterday to encourage more people to get active.
The borough’s Mayor, Coun Ernest Gibson, swapped his chains of office for a bike chain and life jacket to complete a six-mile trek on land and sea – from the heart of South Tyneside to North Tyneside.
The energy-sapping journey was all part of a bid to promote the host of leisure activities available in the borough.
The Pedal, Paddle, Pedal Challenge saw the councillor set off on a mountain bike ride from South Shields Town Hall to the Water Activity Centre on the seafront, where he donned a wetsuit and jumped into a double kayak for a paddle across the River Tyne to Tynemouth Sailing Club, with outdoor education instructor Allen Wearmouth.
Coun Gibson then got back in the saddle for a three-mile ride to North Tyneside Council’s Quadrant Centre, where he met Coun Janet Hunter, chairwoman of North Tyneside Council, to promote adventure activities on both sides of the river.
Coun Gibson said: “I’ve been planning the challenge for a number of months, after being overwhelmed by the high level of quality outdoor activities on offer to young people across South Tyneside.
“I wanted to show them if the mayor can do it, then so can they.
“This opportunity is timely as the region is suffering from increased levels of obesity and the council is making people more aware of the dangers of such diseases as diabetes.
“I hope this will encourage people to put on their trainers and get healthy.
“I’m also looking forward to continuing to nurture the relationship between both North and South Tyneside Councils.
“This fun event has been an opportunity for us both to informally talk about what’s taking place across both boroughs, and how we can liaise on future initiatives.”
Coun Janet Hunter, said: “I have met Coun Gibson on a number of occasions and know how much he enjoys a challenge. I admire him for braving the elements in December. I was very pleased to be able to host his arrival to North Tyneside.
“The two councils have a special relationship, sharing the banks of the Tyne and geographically having much in common.
“Additionally, it is a pleasure to be able to assist in promoting outdoor pursuits and helping to raise the profile of exercise through leisure activity.”
South Tyneside Council operates a range of outdoor activities through Simonside Outdoor Adventure – from mountain climbing and biking to watersports.
It also owns and operates Thurston, a leisure and outdoor facility on the east shore of Lake Coniston, in the heart of the Lake District National Park, used by 2,000 young people every year.
Thurston offers schools, colleges and youth organisations a resource that provides top-class packages, including team working, outward bound activities and accommodation.
People interested in finding out more information about taking part in adventurous activities and courses organised by Simonside Outdoor Adventure, can call 424 0118 or visit www.simonsideoutdooradventure.com