PEOPLE living with and beyond cancer in the Oxfordshire area are being encouraged to get active as part of a new support group launched in the county at the weekend.

Saturday saw the first 5KYourWay group held in Oxford and Didcot which invites cancer patients (current and survivors), as well as their families, friends and those working in cancer services to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at a local ParkRun event on the last Saturday of every month.

The Oxford event will be held at the Cutteslowe Park ParkRun and at Bowmont Water, off Avon Way in Didcot, while the support group is already up and running at the Bicester ParkRun in Langford Fields.

Consultant Obstetrician at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Brenda Kelly, helped set up the Oxford 5KYourWay with Trust colleagues Rachel McMinnis, a Paediatric Oncology Physiotherapist, and Tess McPherson, a Consultant Dermatologist.

Ms Kelly, who recently completed treatment for breast cancer, said taking part in her local ParkRun during her treatment provided a huge mental boost: "There were times when all I wanted to do was stop and sit down, but other runners and volunteers kept cheering me on.

"The feeling I had when I eventually crossed the finish line was amazing. I felt joyous and alive."

Ms McPherson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 when pregnant added: "As with many people, a diagnosis of cancer was life-changing and challenging.

"I was advised to keep active and this has felt like incredibly useful advice. It helped me get through treatment, and doing regular exercise, especially being outside, has helped my physical and mental health in recovery and coping with life

"ParkRun is a fantastic way to be active in a supportive community."

The initiative, which started in Nottingham in November 2018 with one event, has become hugely popular - by the end of April 2019 it will be up and running in 25 English cities and towns, as well as four locations in Ireland.

See for more information.