Winners go the extra mile for healthy hearts

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The National 2017 Golden Shoe Awards have been announced, with a 90-year-old Port Macquarie walker, a Townsville walking group coordinator, and a Rylstone walk organiser taking out the top gongs.

A 90-year-old Port Macquarie walker described as a ‘pocket rocket’, a Townsville walking group coordinator, and a Rylstone walk organiser catering for special-needs walkers have won the National Heart Foundation of Australia’s 2017 Golden Shoe Awards.

There are more than 23,000 Heart Foundation Walking participants throughout Australia, and the Awards recognise people in three separate categories: Local Coordinator, Walk Organiser and Walker. From the state winners, a national winner is selected from each category.

National winner in the Walker category, Anne Whalan, has walked with the Port Macquarie group Hearty Walkers for 20 years and is known to encourage fellow walkers with her friendliness, positivity and energy.

Nominated by a friend, the 90-year-old ‘pocket rocket’ joined Heart Foundation Walking with her husband Bill after he suffered heart problems. When Bill passed away in March 2000, after open heart surgery the year before, Anne kept walking for the social aspect.

“The walking group has saved me from becoming depressed,” she says. “Walking also keeps me healthy, which has allowed me to continue to live independently.”

Erik Eriksson is the national winner of the Walk Organiser category of the Golden Shoe award for his involvement with Rylstone Heart Foundation Walking Group in rural NSW, through which he leads walkers on interesting pre- planned walks. He’s also committed to recruiting new walkers and catering for those with special needs.

National winner of the walking group coordinator category, Andrea White, was recognised for her role in supporting several walking groups in the Townsville area – an area of focus for Heart Foundation Walking due to lower than average rates of physical activity.

Since taking on the role a year ago, she has built excellent relationships with walking groups and their participants and even celebrates milestones with groups and participants.

Heart Foundation Walking National Manager Michelle Wilson said making the decision to participate in Heart Foundation Walking groups was the first step in becoming more active and that the winners had gone that extra mile to assist members improve their health through walking.

“Joining a Heart Foundation Walking group is a great way to ensure you meet the recommended minimum 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week – and as our Golden Shoe winners can attest, it can be a lot of fun as well,” Ms Wilson said.

“The Golden Shoe Awards are a wonderful way to recognise and congratulate individuals who have shown support and dedication to members of their community and taken extra steps to assist in optimising health through walking.”


Golden Shoe National winners:

Local Coordinator : Andrea White (QLD State and National winner)

Andrea is committed and enthusiastic about community health and visits her walking group regularly. She is warm, kind and considerate and has built excellent relationships with walking groups and their participants. She celebrates milestones with groups and participants and has been the driving force in encouraging and facilitating groups in the Townsville area.

Walk Organiser : Erik Eriksson (NSW State and National winner)

Erik is very committed to recruiting new walkers and catering for those with special needs. He uses innovative ways to communicate with his group and attract new walkers. He is an outstanding example of the walk organiser role.

Walker: Anne Whalan (NSW State and National winner)

Anne is a 90-year-old pocket rocket who has been walking with Hearty Walkers in Port Macquarie for 18 years. She encourages walkers with her friendliness, positivity and energy. She advocates for Heart Foundation Walking and attributes her ability to live independently to her many years of walking. Anne rarely misses a walk and has a significant impact on her walking group.

State winners receive a certificate, Golden Shoe Award pin and a $50 merchandise voucher for the Heart Foundation online shop. The national winners also receive certificate and pin, and a $150 Athlete’s Foot online voucher. All winners are published on

Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s largest free walking network and provides a simple, safe way to stay active. With more than 1300 groups around Australia, there’s probably a Heart Foundation Walking group near you.

To become a Virtual Walker, join a walking group or start one of your own in your area, visit or call 1300 36 27 87.

Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Queensland Government.

For interviews, please contact:

Liselotte Geary, Senior National Media Adviser, Heart Foundation, 0411 310 997

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