Over 40 Cumbrian women gathered at Upper Eden Rugby Club in Kirkby Stephen on Friday 20th September for a unique fitness and social event inspired by the Cumbrian Girls Can campaign.
EdenGirlsCan was the brainchild of Eden’s only women’s rugby team - the Upper Eden Eagles. After attending the Cumbrian Girls Can Summit earlier this year, they wanted to support and encourage other women in their community to get active or try something new, with a free event which would be accessible, welcoming and fun.
To help deliver some of the activities, they enlisted the help of local fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer Wiz Lees, who was keen to support the cause having also attended the summit back in July. She said: “Women in fitness and women encouraging women is something I’m really passionate about. As I believe in real life training and FUN exercises you can do pretty much anywhere, this event was something I really wanted to be a part of. Starting a new class or sport can be scary but the strangers in the room are just friends you haven’t met yet."
Cumbrian Girls Can is a community led initiative hosted by Cumbria Rugby Union and overseen by a steering group. The aim is to bring the national ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to Cumbria and celebrate Cumbrian women of all abilities, shapes and sizes as they get active and do their thing. Project Lead, Katie Harper, attended the event to deliver an engaging talk about the campaign and show two inspirational films featuring empowered Cumbrian women.
Following this, attendees were taken outside where they took part in circuit training with Wiz Lees Fitness and rugby drills led by volunteers from Upper Eden Rugby Club. After over an hour of fun, fresh air and some exciting team games, everyone went back inside for a buffet and raffle, where Upper Eden Eagles Team Captain, Bianca Cousin, delivered the closing remarks.
The event received overwhelming support from the local business community, keen to help promote both the women’s rugby team and the Cumbrian Girls Can message. Hosted by Upper Eden Rugby Club, the evening was sponsored by Taylor & Braithwaite and Out of Eden and supported by a number of other businesses who generously donated raffle prizes: Another Place Hotel, The Health Barn in Askham, North Lakes Hotel, Westmorland Limited, Momentum Jewellery, Wooden Horse Clothing and Stables, Thompson & Briscoe.
Following the event Cumbrian Girls Can Project Lead, Katie Harper said: "Over the last two years Cumbrian Girls Can have engaged with women across the County, we have learnt that getting started is not easy for many women. Women have said more beginners sessions, at low cost and more flexible activities would help women to get started. The session at Kirby Stephen whilst in the rugby club, and a great intro to rugby was also about encouraging women to find their thing. Hopefully those that came, or others who just heard about the event will now know they are welcome at Upper Eden Rugby Club, and if rugby isn't their thing - might be thinking about what does suit them. Activity comes in so many forms, and events like this are about developing a supportive and encouraging community which will help more people be active."
Upper Eden Eagles member and one of the organisers behind #EdenGirlsCan, Laura Kay, who started playing rugby aged 30, said: “As a team, we were deeply moved by the Cumbrian Girls Can campaign which really struck a chord, as we have all overcome, or are working to overcome, our own barriers and anxieties around playing sport; whether we’re good enough, fit enough, fast enough, young enough, tough enough, coordinated enough. Whether we’ll fit in, what we look like in our kit. Women spend too much time worrying about what people think and doubting themselves and we wanted to use #EdenGirlsCan as a way to reach out and prove that playing sport isn’t as scary as it might seem! There are so many women out there that would absolutely love rugby if they could just fight their fears and have a go, and there isn’t a better family to be part of. We have women and girls of all shapes and sizes, aged from 17 to 47. It’s never too late to start (or restart!) and it’s a great way to get fit, gain confidence and just have fun with other women who will support you all the way. The hardest part is just turning up! Many of the women and girls who attended on Friday night tried something new for the very first time, and we are so grateful to them for coming along and giving it their all, and to absolutely everyone else involved for their help in making the event a success!”
Women’s rugby training takes place in Kirkby Stephen on Wednesday evenings at 7pm and anyone interested in attending can contact the Upper Eden Eagles on social media or via their Recruitment Officer, Katy Strong: email@example.com.
However, if rugby isn't your thing, you can find a wide range of sports and activities to get involved in across Eden, using Active Cumbria’s online Activity Finder -