Why would a family from Sweden give up seeing the sights of London to join over 300 runners in Lydiard Park for the weekly 5km Swindon park run?
Ylva Gullberg, 19, said she had come to Swindon to work as a volunteer at Lower Shaw Farm through the WWOOF organisation (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). “I stayed on the farm for nearly three weeks and it was a wonderful experience for me.
“One of the first things I heard about was the Swindon park run when farm manager Matt Holland enthusiastically said: ‘You look like you could be a runner.’
“And when he heard that my parents and sister were coming over to England to explore and to be tourists, he said that they could stay at Lower Shaw Farm if they promised to run the Swindon park run 9am on a Saturday.
“They’ve not done much running but my father Kalle, my mother Annica, and my sister Hanna all joined in with hundreds of others in Lydiard Park. It was amazing. We all were very impressed with the organization, the joyful atmosphere, and the nice park to run in.
“There was such a cheerful spirit, everybody was welcome to join in and have a good time – no matter if you were an elite runner or just jog for fun. It was also a great feeling that people at other park runs all over England were running at the same time.”
Yvla also said she loved living and working on the farm. “Andrea and Matt have done a wonderful job making Lower Shaw Farm such a living and flourishing place with lots of activities for children as well as adults. I tried yoga for the first time and the Wednesday Community Café is also a lovely place to meet new people and enjoy marvellous homemade pastries.
“My visit to Swindon and also my family’s was memorable for all of us.”
• Park run is free to take part in. Details at www.parkrun.org.uk/swindon
Pictured: International park runners from left, Emilie Robert from France, also a Lower Shaw Farm wwoofer, Kalle, Ylva, Hanna and Annica Gullberg and Matt Holland.
The Gullberg’s in front of Lydiard House
Photos: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com