A friendship formed at a cardiac rehabilitation group 20 years ago is still going strong for two widowers who have paid tribute to the team and facilities at East Riding Leisure Haltemprice for helping to keep them fit and healthy.
Albert Irvin, 94, and Robert Cawkwell, 83, have become firm friends and training partners after first meeting through a cardiac rehabilitation scheme at Hull Royal Infirmary after both suffered heart attacks.
After attending the hospital sessions for an initial eight week period, Albert and Robert were referred on to East Riding Leisure Haltemprice where they have continued their rehabilitation twice a week, every week ever since.
The pair routinely follow a fitness programme, tailored to their ability and needs, featuring a number of cardiovascular and toning exercises including the treadmills, cross-trainers, rowing machine and weights.
Before and after each session they have their blood pressure checked and recorded by one of the centre's instructors with both seeing an improved level of health and fitness.
Albert said: "There must be something in it because we have our blood pressure checked before we exercise and afterwards and it is always lower afterwards. Exercise is really good for lowering your blood pressure. "But coming here is about more than that. It's also about camaraderie and friendship. You meet other people and they get to know you, it gets you talking to folk, it's a social thing as well as a fitness thing."
The duo have been impressed with the improvements made to East Riding Leisure Haltemprice in recent years, with the centre officially re-opening its doors to the public two years ago following an extensive £7m refurbishment.
The refurbishment saw the venue become much more than just a leisure centre with a new doctor's surgery, cafe Vibe, refurbished and upgraded 3G pitches, a refurbished sports hall, a new Tone Zone fitness suite, fully refurbished swimming pools and an improved car park being completed.
Albert said: "I think the facilities here are as good as any private, commercial gym that would cost you a lot more money. All the staff, from the instructors to the receptionists, are really friendly and helpful."
Robert added: "In the early days they were that short of equipment we had to sign it out on a blackboard but now they have everything you could possibly want here."
Councillor Jonathan Owen, chair of the East Riding Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "It is fantastic to hear about Albert and Robert's experiences of accessing the council's leisure facilities which can really make a difference to people's lives, whether that is by improving levels of fitness, aiding rehabilitation after a period of illness or injury, or helping to improve social interaction. "Albert and Robert's story is truly inspiring and is testament to the fact that age really is no obstacle to making the most of the fantastic facilities that are available at all East Riding Leisure centres."
To find out more about the facilities and classes available at all East Riding Leisure centres, including Haltemprice, visit www.eastridingleisure.co.uk