October 2020: Walking leads science technician to find new life

LOCKDOWN and a personal fitness challenge not only led Science Technician Emily Slinger to lose three stone – it gave her more control of her diabetes.

Her type 1 diabetes is likely to be hereditary, as her mum has also just been diagnosed, and in March, before lockdown, she admitted she would even get a taxi from Accrington centre a few blocks to her home.

In three months she completed 1.7million steps – the equivalent of walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End raising £235 for Diabetes UK.

And on Sunday she walked the virtual Manchester marathon after plotting a route from Fleetwood to Lytham and back to Blackpool – 26.2miles.

Emily, who has worked at Haslingden High School for four years, said: “I originally decided to do the 1million step challenge because I was only walking about 2,000 steps a day around my house and I wanted to get moving.

“I used to actively avoid sport and exercise of any kind – now I am climbing hills. The week before the virtual marathon, I walked 17 miles taking in Rivington Pike, Two Lads and Winter Hill.”

Walkers were tasked to complete the 1million step challenge in three months, but by week seven Emily had already reached the target, and so she just carried on.

Emily, 35, said: “I have been diabetic since I was nine and on insulin. Now I have lowered my dosage and I have improved my blood sugars. Before I was obese, now I have lost three stones and I have a normal BMI [Body Mass Index].

“The first walk I did was into the Coppice area of Accrington and it was hard; now I climb mountains and have walked up Whernside.

“I think to myself, ‘why did I now know how good walking was?’ I walk alone and it clears my head. I lost my dad during lockdown and so I went through a pretty rough patch, it was good to be getting out and moving.”

She has a six-year-old son and was shielding for five months while she worked from home, returning to Haslingden High full-time in September – a changed person.

Now she hops off the bus in Haslingden centre and walks to work and when the lunchtime bell rings she takes the opportunity to up her step count whenever possible.

And a couple of times a week she opts not to take the bus and walks the six miles from to school back home.

Two years ago Emily completed her BA degree in Education and has just been accepted at Liverpool Hope University to do her Masters in Education. Like the first degree, she will be studying in tandem with full-time working when her son is asleep.

She added: “My advice for anyone who is thinking about walking more is, just do it. It has changed my life.”