Q&A with Sharron Davies MBE

Liz Nicholls


Liz Nicholls chats to Sharron Davies MBE as she looks forward to The Olympic Games – her 13th – starting later this month in Paris

Watch & listen to Liz Nicholls catch up with Sharron Davies on our podcast, Spotlight: The Diary for the South East, OUT NOW on YouTube.

Q. Hello Sharron! Who are your Team GB ones to watch?
“Well they’ve got a tall order because Tokyo was the most successful Olympic games for the British swimming team for 100 years. So it’s going to be very tough for them to be as successful but I expect them to be very close to it because they’ve got a very strong team, particularly the men. Adam Peaty seems to be back on track which is good news for the British team because what happens on day one sets the tone. We also have Tom Dean and Duncan Scott. Daniel Wiffen stands a very good chance in the 200m – we like to see the Irish doing well, too, don’t we? The girls are going to have it a little bit tougher. They had good trials and we have a couple of world champions going into this with Laura Stevens and Freya Colbert. But I think the Canadians, Americans and Australians will bring another level.”

Q. Will you be in Paris for the whole games?
“Yes, I’ll be poolside covering the swimming throughout and then I’ve wangled a couple of days at the end to see a bit of track and field with my 17-year-old. This will be my 13th Olympic Games! I entered my first junior international a 11 and my first Olympics at 13.”

Q. You were great as Amazon on Gladiators! Do you watch much TV?
“I do: mostly live sport and Netflix. And, most people don’t know this about me but I’m a big Star Trek fan! I love anything that depicts us living in harmony, all shapes and sizes from all sorts of places. I love the idea we might be able to do this one day.”

Q. Who were your heroes growing up?
The Mirror used to fly in swimming superstars. I met Johnny Weissmuller & Shane Gould. And I remember watching Mark Spitz with his famous moustache & seven medals. Also David Wilkie, who sadly died recently, was a great inspiration to me and, later, a friend. I have many female heroes. We appear to be living in a much more misogynistic world right now & those pushing back for fair & equal opportunities for our girls I admire on a daily basis. I can’t say I even thought of myself as a feminist until recently, but regressive stereotypes & social media are making life much harder for young females.”

Q. Where do you like to swim?
“Aha, well I don’t swim often these days because swimming has ruined my shoulders! Swimming wears your rotator cuffs out – that’s our injury. If I’m on holiday and I’m on a beach and it’s lovely, I’m in the water but I don’t use swimming to keep fit. I’m cycling or in the gym four times a week.”

Q. What tips would you give anyone who wants to get fit & healthy?
“It’s never too late! You can make a radical difference with tweaks. It’s all about consistency, mobility, your core. We need to put a little stress on our joints as well, particularly as women, to avoid osteoporosis. Silly stuff like climbing stairs instead of escalators or lifts. Just do all of those things automatically. My dad is 88 and I always say to him, whether you’re getting on and off your sofa to do two squats every single time. And when you’re there making your cup of tea, stand on one leg. Obviously hold on to something supportive if you need but balance as we age is really important because once you start to get into your 80s, if you fall over and break a hip, it’s massive. And that’s all down to core stability and balance and we don’t tend to look after that. What’s really interesting is that Japanese people have hardly any of the hip issues we have because they’re constantly getting up and down off the floor so their core stability is so much better than ours.”

Q. What about eating, Sharron? Is there anything you do or don’t eat?
“There’s nothing that’s off the agenda, I just tend not to eat unhealthily regularly and I would say little tips like making sure you eat colourful food works really well. Nearly all beige and bland food isn’t good for us. Processed sugar is the devil and it creeps into everything these days, especially ready meals! I don’t drink very much, never have. I’ve never smoked. I’m a morning person so I go to bed reasonably early and like to be up and get going – I think that’s a knock-on of having to get up at 5am for training from such a young age! Alcohol has hidden calories which are easy to forget about. And try not to eat really late as well. It’s slowing your metabolism down filling your belly and going to bed is not good for your digestive system.”

Q. Do you still love dogs?
“Yes, we’ve got two: Flash the blind Basset Hound is very unflash; my son named him! And Ed the dachshund.”

Q. You’re a grandmother now aren’t you?
“I am – that’s who I’m out with today. I’ve got a granddaughter who’s four and a grandson who’s four months. It’s a cliché but it’s so much easier than being a mum because you can just hand them back. I love it! I often have Ariya on a Friday and it’s my favourite day of the week. We live in a very fast world and we often don’t live in the moment. When I’m with my granddaughter I have to live in the moment. She wants me to draw pictures with her and throw a ball and do all sorts of innocent things. You have to put your mobile down and turn the TV off and give them a bit of time and effort – that’s really all they want.”

WalkWithMe 2024

Round & About


If the start of a new year has prompted you to get out and do something about your fitness, then how about doing it while raising funds for a fabulous cause in 2024.

Come and join WalkWithMe, a charity fundraising 26-mile walk being held on Sunday, 5th May.
We start and finish in the beautiful grounds of Moulsford School, Moulsford-on-Thames. The route winds through some stunning South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire countryside, including a section of the historic Ridgeway and the River Thames. Registration is £65 per person plus sponsorship fundraising (enter before 15th January for a reduced registration of £55).

WalkWithMe was established in 2011 by a group of friends with the simple concept of ‘walking together to make a difference’. Over the last 12 years we have raised more than £520,000 for a variety of local and national charities. This year we are fundraising for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Oxford which provides invaluable support for cancer patients and their families.

We hold organised training walks between February and May in the local area to get you ready for your challenge slowly building up the distance walked each session.

For all the information you need about the event and Maggie’s and to register visit the website here.

If you need to get in touch, email [email protected]. Come along and help raise loads of money for our fantastic charity and let’s get together, get fit, make a difference!

Join The Big Wild Walk

Round & About


Get active for nature: walk, run, cycle, wheel or swim for wildlife!

The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Walk is set to be the most exciting yet with its new ambassador Rhiane Fatinikun backing this year’s challenge.

Rhiane is an award-winning outdoors advocate and community organiser. She founded Black Girls Hike (BGH UK) in 2019 to challenge the stereotypes and lack of representation in the outdoors.

This year Big Wild Walk participants can create their own adventure, whether that’s by walking, running, cycling, wheeling, or swimming, offering flexibility for getting involved. Funds raised will help wildlife recover and contribute towards The Wildlife Trusts’ goal of protecting 30% of UK’s land and sea for nature by 2030.

Liz Shearer, Community Engagement Director at Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The Big Wild Walk enables all of us to get involved, however we like, while having fun and feeling good about doing something for wildlife. I love nothing more than putting my boots on and exploring the outdoors, and there are some wonderful places across our counties to do this, including our 80+ nature reserves.

“The brilliant part about this challenge is that you can take it at your own pace and plan your own adventure. It’s also a great opportunity to raise money for The Wildlife Trusts, including BBOWT, to help us create more nature everywhere. What are you waiting for?”

The Wildlife Trusts are leading a swathe of projects across the UK to reintroduce keystone species such as beavers, revive marine habitats such as kelp forests and create more space for nature by rewilding larger areas.

This autumn, the Wildlife Trusts also team up with Aardman Animations to co-create Timmy Time materials to encourage families with young children to take part.

The specially-created Hedgehog Walk is designed for pre-school and Key Stage 1 pupils who can choose their own Timmy Time-themed character fundraising pack, including Apricot the hedgehog and Stripey the badger, to complete the challenge with. The challenge is to walk 3km in a week, the same distance a hedgehog travels each night.

The Big Wild Walk takes place during half term from Monday 16 to Monday 30 October 2023. Sign up at wildlifetrusts.org/bigwildwalk

Rhiane Fatinikun, founder of Black Girls Hike and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts, says: “Spending time hiking in nature is incredibly special and I love sharing my experiences of the outdoors with others. I’m absolutely delighted to become an ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts as the Big Wild Walk gets underway. I started my journey into the great outdoors with no hiking experience so I’m keen to encourage everyone, no matter their ability or background, to take that first step. Signing up to the Big Wild Walk is a fantastic way to support nature and wild places whilst doing something you love. Or mix it up and turn it into a run, swim or bike ride – the choice is yours! I hope lots of you join us this October to champion nature by having a wild adventure no matter how big or small.”

Steve Brown, television presenter and athlete mentor, says: “All my life, I’ve found the greatest pleasure in exploring the countryside and championing our wild places. I believe nothing should hold you back from enjoying the great outdoors and it’s so exciting that The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Walk this year invites participants to take up the challenge in whatever way that works for them. Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle, wheel, or swim, I’d encourage everyone to sign up and invite their family and friends to join in the fun too. However big or small your adventure, all funds raised by taking part in the Big Wild Walk will contribute towards The Wildlife Trusts’ goal of protecting and connecting 30% of UK’s land and sea for nature by 2030. Feeling inspired, start planning your challenge now?!”

Kate Cook, brand manager at Aardman says: “We are delighted to champion this fantastic challenge through our Timmy Time characters, specifically engaging younger participants through the Hedgehog Walk. We hope families love our character packs and learn something new about the incredible wildlife around them along the way.”

The Big Wild Walk takes place during half term from Monday 16th to Monday 30th October. Sign up at wildlifetrusts.org/bigwildwalk

Feel more energised

Liz Nicholls


Feel more energised with these tips from Nature’s Corner in Newbury

Need more energy? Happily, there’s plenty you can do to increase your energy levels naturally.

Drink more water!

It may seem obvious but one of the main causes of fatigue is dehydration. Difficulty concentrating, headaches and fatigue, even feeling hungry are all signs you’re not drinking enough water. Aim for at least two litres of water daily.

Get sufficient sleep

Poor sleep on an ongoing basis will soon zap your energy. If you’re having trouble nodding off because your bedroom is too stuffy, try changing your bedding – choose natural fibres over synthetic, and sheets over duvets to help increase airflow and circulation. A natural sleep remedy can also help. Dormeasan® Sleep with Valerian and Hops can help restore better sleep patterns, which means more quality time in restorative sleep stages. Take 30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime.

Slay your stress!

Feeling stressed can take its toll on energy levels. It causes the digestive system to slow, meaning we don’t get as many nutrients, and therefore less fuel from food. It also means we can become deficient in the vitamins and minerals we need to keep our bodies working, and our energy levels up. Allow yourself at least 30 minutes each day to do whatever helps you to relax, whether that’s a walk by yourself, a long soak or a dip into a good book.

Ditch the quick-release carbs found in white bread, pastries and sweets. They might give you a quick sugar fix, but after a couple of hours that sudden spike of energy will drop, making you feel tired and sleepy. Low GI, energy-rich foods, such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and foods rich in protein, will keep you full for longer.

Still feeling tired?

Bring your minerals into balance. Minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are essential for turning the food we eat into energy. A.Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink contains magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin D, to help release energy and maintain vitality. Simply add to water and stir.

For further advice, visit Anita and her team at Nature’s Corner, 73 Northbrook St, Newbury.

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2020 trends

Round & About


It’s the new year which must mean it’s time for that ‘new you’ we all search for for a few weeks/months, but trends for 2020 mean it’s not all about sweating it out at a gym and donning your running gear in all weathers, the emphasis is as much on mental wellbeing as it is on physical activity. Here’s a few of things to tempt you this year… 

Wellbeing workouts

More workouts are putting mindfulness and mental health at the fore with spiritual wellbeing and nurturing the soul becoming more important. Expect to find therapies like cryotherapy, meditation, breathing, massages and flotation tanks.


Mindful running

This can be a great way to put your worries and stresses to the back of your mind, disconnect from what is overwhelming you and allow you some ‘me time’. Mindful running encourages you to focus on your training and yourself.


Mind over matter

New workouts will focus on strengthening your mind as much as your body. The idea is to push yourself out of your comfort zone with bootcamp-style exercises and team competitions. The goal is to build mental resilience, as well as improve fitness levels.


Group workouts

2020 is expected to bring a surge in group sweat classes, workouts could replace happy hour and team lunches swapped for team outings to a spin or trampoline class. Working out increases team bonding, productivity and improves culture. It can be a great way to develop friendships too and reduce some of the self-consciousness and anxiety of exercising in a room full of strangers.

Hybrid yoga

Combine the exercise with other practices. Yoga HIIT (high intensity interval training) balances stretches with sharp bursts of intensity, ensuring you use all your muscles and are buzzing with endorphins.


Snooze time

Recognition of needing more sleep will be in focus in 2020. Sleep deprivation can impact you at work, your physical appearance and your mental health. There’s more technical equipment that can help fight lack of sleep and more fitness studios are sleep space for after workout rest and sleep pods are popping up for a rest on your lunch break.


Shorter workouts

It seems HIIT (high intensity interval training) is not intense enough, say hello to micro HIIT. The recommended amount of HIIT is 20 minutes, three times a day but get set for an even more intense version with two or three minutes’ worth throughout the day! Feel exhausted yet?


At-home workouts

The popularity of Peloton, the home-spinning bike sensation shows no signs of abating in 2020. Without having to leave home and in your pjs if you wish you can join in thousands of on-demand classes. Trainers with infectious energy are helping to grow this trend. Look out too for the Peloton Tread (running treadmills) coming from the US including training and recovery tips.


Smart boxing

With the increasing use of tech, comes punch trackers. Worn on your wrist, the device will track the velocity and intensity of your punches to measure your progression and see how your right hook compares to your fellow boxers.