Meet Ann, a Move More hero

A huge number of people across the South Leeds communities take part, volunteer and lead a huge variety of activities each week which get themselves or others moving in some way. We feel these people are all ‘heroes’ and an inspiration to us and others.

This month I caught up with Ann, a caretaker in South Leeds who discovered a new love of the game of basketball at the age of 58.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Ann Chalders and I was born in Leeds 1962 . I currently work as a Caretaker at St Luke’s Beeston Hill Primary School, maintaining the building and grounds, and I’m involved with some of the school sports teams as well.

How long have you lived in South Leeds?

I have lived in Beeston for 33 years and been a caretaker for 21, having worked in the classroom before that. I also help as a Lunchtime supervisor at school and am kept on my toes doing various odd jobs around the school. I am a mum and have two lovely grandchildren.

What are the things you do to ‘Move More’?

I play an active role with the school sports teams, going to cross country meets with Mark (Hodgkinson) and the Cross Country Team. I also help take the Year 5s swimming once a week and go to the school football matches and encourage and support the teams – I’m the half time lady who brings the oranges! We now have a girls’ team and two boys’ teams.

I try to run the daily mile with the kids in Year 5-6, and if I can I also do the run with the year 1s. I take my grandchildren to Junior Parkrun when I can. On a personal level I play Basketball with South Leeds Valkyries (a women’s Basketball), and I do Parkrun on a Saturday in Cross Flatts Park.

What got you into it? Is it something you’ve always done?

I was interested in sport from being young. I used to go to Rothwell swimming pool when I was growing up. My parent’s pub had a Rugby team and I used to enjoy watching the games and supporting the team. However, after I left school I didn’t do any exercise at all. After I had Hayley (at 26) I did start some keep fit classes for a few years, but after that I didn’t really do any exercise for myself until April 2018. I had seen the Parkrunners on a Saturday morning in the park and just decided to give it a try. I was 55, I got into it but unfortunately Covid struck and stopped things for a while.

After Covid, Clara (from the Valkyries) started encouraging me to join the basketball ladies, so in November 2021 I started playing basketball for the first time in my life and I absolutely love it. I also re-started Parkrun in January 2023. I run when I can, walk if I need to, but just getting there makes me feel better.

Ann, kneeling left, with her South Leeds Valkyries sisters

What’s your favourite part? What do you get out of playing?

South Leeds Valkyries is such a friendly diverse bunch of women – it feels really good to be a part of it. We vary in age from 18 up to me – the ladies recently helped me celebrate my sixtieth birthday with a cake at the basketball session. We are also very varied in terms of background and ability, but the wonderful thing is that we are all made to feel so welcome and included. It’s a lovely atmosphere and it makes me feel younger and part of a team.

What’s been most rewarding?

The best part is that I do feel my stamina is improving and I’m getting fitter without even realising it, because we’re having so much fun. Since playing basketball and doing the runs I feel much healthier and happier in myself and more content with life. I find myself looking forward toplaying on a Thursday night and meeting up with the other ladies.

Has anyone else supported/inspired you?

I am really lucky to have been supported and encouraged by my family Hayley, Luke and the grand children.
The South Leeds Valkyries ladies have also inspired me a lot, encouraging me and making me feel like I can do it. Clara (De Sousa Diane) who started the team, also encouraged me as I felt I was too old – but she chatted to me at Beeston Festival (and afterwards) and made me feel I was part of the team and very welcome.

Any advice for someone considering giving a new activity a try?

Just do it – Go for it. The first one is the hardest as its about confidence, but it can only get better, you have nothing to lose.

I think especially when you are older, you can get stuck in a rut, so its nice to do something different and realise that things can change and new stuff can happen in your life no matter how old you are. It’s also about not relying on other people to make you happy, but knowing you can do it for yourself and taking pride in yourself and finding joy in that.

Thank you

I wanted to write about Ann as she is always positive and encouraging to the SLV ladies. She is 60 yet is an inspiration to us to keep going and always try. She is also a lot of fun and always up for a laugh – she recently came to a disco with us!

She is also very loved at the school and plays such a vital role encouraging the children to be active. Well done Ann – a Move More hero!


This post was written by Tania Carlisle


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