Heart Foundation Cleveland walking group organiser clocks up 1000 walks before handing over the reins

COMMITTED WALKERS: Walkers John Ward, 93, and Walma Scott, 94, with retiring group leader Percy Burden at Raby Bay.
COMMITTED WALKERS: Walkers John Ward, 93, and Walma Scott, 94, with retiring group leader Percy Burden at Raby Bay.

A PARADE of red-shirted walkers made their way through Cleveland this morning to mark Percy Burden's final walk as the group's leader.

The Heart Foundation Cleveland Central walking group organiser has been with the group for 10 years and has clocked up more than 1000 walks.

He is known in the group for his sense of humour and rallying cry of "get off your backsides".

Mr Burden said walkers would meet at the shopping centre three times a week - rain, hail or shine.

"On Monday, it was pouring," he said.

"We still had 19 people turn up. Everyone had their umbrellas. We walk around the shops, in the car park, undercover.

"Half the time we spend walking and the other half we sit down and we talk."

Wife Pauline Burden said the group had several members in their 90s, including its oldest member Walma Scott, 94, who had also reached 1000 walks.

"She loves it and her family loves her doing it," Mrs Burden said.

"We have different ability levels."

Some members walk to combat health issues, while others enjoy the social aspect of the group.

"You definitely form friendships," Mrs Burden said.

"All the groups speak to each other."

The Burdens joined the walking group a decade ago and have continued to walk despite health struggles.

RAINY WEATHER: Mohinder Singh, Baldev (Tina) Singh and Percy Burden of Ormiston on their morning walk in 2019. Photo: Jordan Crick.

RAINY WEATHER: Mohinder Singh, Baldev (Tina) Singh and Percy Burden of Ormiston on their morning walk in 2019. Photo: Jordan Crick.

"I joined a gym and (Percy) used to just sit in the car, then I told him to walk around the block," Mrs Burden said.

"That's when we joined a walking group."

Finishing a stint in hospital last year, Mr Burden had only two walks to go before hitting the 1000 walk milestone.

Then COVID-19 lockdown hit.

"We were still doing walks (on our own) so we wrote to the Heart Foundation and they let him get his 1000 shirt," Mrs Burden said.

The group marked Mr Burden's final day at the helm with a walk to Raby Bay and a celebratory lunch.

The Heart Foundation has walking groups across the country, ranging from two to more than 100 members.

Walking groups leave from Cleveland Central at 7am and 7.30am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For more information or to join a group, visit walking.heartfoundation.org.au.