THE Vale council’s couch to 5k initiative has been hailed as “incredible” by the mother of a woman with learning difficulties who signed up for the programme.

Rachel Reynolds and daughter Rebecca Netherway both enrolled on the fitness drive, organised by the council’s healthy living team, which aims to help people who don’t exercise to run five kilometres.

Ms Netherway, 29, has learning difficulties and epilepsy.

Her condition means she is not able to work or live independently and needs support with everyday life.

Her mum, Ms Reynolds says she was inspired to get involved from the offset.

She said: "From the minute she picked up the leaflet she was really keen and asked if we could do it together.

"I’m always trying to encourage her to keep active and as she was so keen, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity.

“We were a bit nervous to start off with, as it was far out of our comfort zones.

"But from day one the team and the Seriously Mad Runners crew were incredible.

“There’s a definite focus on perseverance, rather than speed - as long as you keep moving.

"And there will always be one of them running or walking alongside you. I’d really recommend the program for anyone starting out, it was a positive experience all round, I couldn’t fault it.”

For Ms Netherway, the programme has improved more than her fitness.

“There was a real sense of achievement for her after the nine weeks was up, Ms Reynolds said.

"She’s often quite half-hearted when it comes to exercise.

"But from day one she was enthusiastic and motivated – she couldn’t wait to get to the sessions and this is still the case now.

“Finishing this has given her a huge confidence boost.

"There’s such a community of encouragement, with the club supporting you every step of the way.

"It’s turned into a real passion.

“Before starting, Rebecca had been feeling really tired and fatigued.

"We’d even gone to the doctors to run some tests but all had come back as normal.

"When we started running, we saw a massive difference in her energy levels.”

Next year, the women plan to run the Barry 10k with the help of the healthy living team and the Seriously Mad Runners crew.

Vale council cabinet member for social care and health, Cllr Ben Gray said: “The couch to 5K sessions are a brilliant opportunity for adults of all abilities to improve their well-being.

"I’m pleased to hear Rebecca’s story and what a positive impact these sessions have had on her confidence and overall health.

“Well done to all the runners who took part in the programme, and to the teams responsible.”