From War Games to Wellness

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world still played today, and can be traced back almost 1500 years to its origins in India.

We wanted to take a look at this extraordinary game, and how it earnt its place as the favourite game of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Fry – and of our own wonderful Chess Club members! 

The earliest known form of chess was played in India and was called “chaturanga”, a word that means “four divisions.” The name came from the fact that the pieces were supposed to represent the four divisions of an army: infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. No, you’re not misreading that – elephants were a crucial part of early warfare in this part of the world! 

Over time, the infantry became pawns, the cavalry became knights, the elephants became bishops and the chariots became rooks. The game moved into Persia, and from there spread through the Muslim world under the name “shatranj”. It finally reached Europe through Spain in the first century, and eventually became the game we know today. 

One of the biggest reasons for the enduring popularity of chess it that it is at once extremely easy to learn, and extraordinarily difficult to master. Learning the moves is simple – the rook moves this way, the knight moves that way, easy enough. But with an infinite combination of moves, there is always more to learn and new ways to challenge oneself. 

This mental work-out is one of the reasons we’re so happy our Chess Club is returning, as it’s a fabulous way to build your brain’s muscles. Chess pulls on all sorts of cognitive skills, including pattern recognition and problem solving. 

Chess is also wonderful for your memory. Studies have shown repeatedly that people who play chess have better memories than those who don’t, as well as being better at creative, outside-the-box thinking. 

And best of all, chess is fun! It’s a challenging, interesting game that has been bringing people together all over the world for over a millennium. 

Whether you’re an old hand or looking to learn, you’ll be welcome at our Chess Club. For more information, check out our website or get in touch with David by email at or by telephone at 01457 514654.

Stay active this winter with Be Well!

As the year turns and the weather gets colder, many of us feel the temptation to stay bundled up inside on the sofa with a cup of tea and the telly.

But even in winter, it’s important to keep active where you can – and Be Well can help! 

Our Gentle Walks are continuing throughout December with all the benefits of fresh air, gentle exercise, and socialisation. Click here to see our full schedule. 

Walking is a wonderful way to boost your wellbeing. Not only can it help strengthen your bones and reduce your blood pressure. It also helps build lower-body strength, which improves your balance and helps to prevent falls. 

And as the name suggests, our Gentle Walks are easy going, sociable events that are as much about having a great time as getting active. You’re as likely to get your heart rate up through laughing as from walking!

Research shows that just spending 20 minutes in the park – whether one is exercising or not – is enough to improve someone’s mood. And, in Scotland, GPs have been giving their patients prescriptions to spend time in nature because of the profound benefits to spending time outside.

But let’s be honest – winter in the Peak District is not to be sniffed at! For all the benefits of bundling up and getting out into the fresh air, sometimes it’s good to have the option of staying in.

Our Gentle Dancercise classes are a great, gentle way to keep moving – and stay warm doing it.

Our classes can be taken at your own pace; pick the dances as you go along and step out and take a breather as often as you like. So even if you’re a complete beginner, there’s space for you to join in, let your hair down, and have a boogie! Click here to see our Gentle Dancercise timetable.

Like walking, dancing has a range of health benefits, including improved balance and co-ordination. Learning new dance routines can also help stretch those little grey cells and improve your memory. 

In a survey of older people across the UK who take part in dance activities, the overwhelming majority reported that dancing improved their mood, made them feel more connected to the people around them, and gave them a sense of achievement. 

But above all, Gentle Dancercise is enormous fun, with a soundtrack of hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80 to get moving to – and a well-earned cup of tea at the end. 

So, whether you want to venture into the great outdoors or stay warm inside – or both! – we have a session to suit you. For more information about our Gentle Walks, contact Malcolm on 07841687824 and for information about Gentle Dancercise, contact Jayne on 07590839421. 

The Fine Art of Starting Again

This month in the Be Well Blog, we hear from our Cornwall Correspondent, Jonathan Woods, about the art of starting again after a set-back.

Jonathan lives with a life-limiting disease, and has found it hard to stay active during lockdown. But he’s determined to get active again, one step at a time.

This post is adapted from an article in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the latest edition here.

A photo of Jonathan Woods, a man wearing an orange t-shirt and beige shorts and standing with a walking stick, smiling at the camera
Jonathan lives with a life-limiting disease which affects him both physically and mentally.

I used to be physically active every day, but, during lockdown I found it all too easy not to do anything and I’m struggling to get going again! I tell myself that it’s OK not to do anything and though I know full well the benefits of physical activity, I still don’t do it!

In the past being physically active with other people has been a way of increasing my commitment and forced me (out of loyalty) to be physically active when really I didn’t want to! It also forced me to communicate more clearly and to socialise – neither of which I do naturally!

A physiotherapist once explained to me that I shouldn’t be hard on myself, and that I shouldn’t “see” not being physically active as failure. In her view it was always “better to do something than nothing”.

I suspect that the best thing I could do to restart physical activity is to do a little at a time – say once a week to start with, and see how that goes before trying to do more.

And I also need to make my physical activity different this time around. This will force me to learn something new and interesting and make me extend myself. This should, in turn, also help prevent boredom.

I am sure I will find something new for me – it’s just a matter of making the time to find it, to be flexible and to be open to doing something that I hadn’t expected to do. I also know that I will need to make an effort and find the energy to get started. After which it is easier to do it again. What I really need is Be Well Cornwall!

Quo Vadis, Eat Well

This month in the Be Well Blog, we look back at our popular Eat Well programme, which sought to fight both social isolation and food poverty.

This post is adapted from an article in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the July 2021 edition here.

Eat Well serves up delicious, healthy food for local people

When two young local chefs became concerned about rising levels of food poverty and food waste and the need to fight social isolation the Eat Well journey began.

Eat Well Glossop is the brainchild of James Bouchier and Vicky Murphy, who, seeing the scale of in-date supermarket food being sent to landfill, set out to change the world (or at least that bit of it local to them).

Sourcing main ingredients from FareShare (a national surplus food distributor) and backed by a team of amazing volunteers, Eat Well Glossop started planning, preparing, cooking and serving delicious meals for anyone who wanted to come along.

As Vicky remembers, “Our first event was in November 2017 and we had fifteen customers. People were as likely to eat alongside complete strangers as their neighbours and the whole point was social eating in a friendly atmosphere. There was no charge for the food, and donations went straight to providing the next meal. Before long we were running three sessions a month with 50 to 60 customers per meal.”

However, with the chefs’ growing workloads elsewhere, it was decided to “mothball” Eat Well in early 2020 and bring it back when we could.

And now, thanks to a National Lottery grant, we can! The team has been reconvened over tea and cake and everyone is keen to stay involved. Details are yet to be worked out but we want to involve older people and young children, as well as using produce from Glossop Community Allotment. We are, indeed, cooking with gas.

Kings, knaves, landowners or labourers?

This month in the Be Well Blog, we hear from Be Well Quizzer and heritage researcher Sue Featherston about her quest to learn more about her mysterious great-grandmother.

This post is adapted from the article Sue wrote for us in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the March 2021 edition here.

A photo of Sue Featherston, a blonde woman with glasses, smiling
Sue first got interested in genealogy because of her great-grandmother's exotic name

Sue was intially captivated by her great-grandmother’s name, Elvina Sarah Le Boutillier, French, exotic and fascinating? She had to know more. 

My quest to learn about Elvina began in the Eighties. Pre-internet, this meant squinting at microfilm in the library photographing gravestones, capturing details, dates and family relationships. Slowly my family history took shape, like a giant jigsaw. 

Forty years on, the family tree spans centuries. Elvina’s forebears lived on Sark at the behest of Elizabeth I, defending the island against the French; they were given land as a reward.  My 10-times great grandfather Robert Sloley was the first Judge of Sark, where his house can still be found.  

Not French, Elvina was ‘Jersiaise’. Not exotic, she was from a farming and sea-faring family. Fascinating she remains. How, and why, did she travel to grimy, Victorian Manchester. How did she meet and marry Joe?  

You can now do armchair research 24/7, and it won’t take 40 years! There are free-to-use websites, and organisations like Ancestry and Findmypast which charge subscriptions. Quiz your oldest family members. Don’t put it off. Record family stories; identify photographs; collect BMD certificates; study censuses and parish records. Take a DNA test: mine found two second cousins, and dozens more relatives.  

Be prepared – you will find skeletons in the cupboard; there will also be heroes.  

Find out who you really are. Go on, you know you want to. 

Gary Barlow backs Be Well

To celebrate the inaugural post on our blog, we’re highlighting one of our favourite pieces from the February edition of the Bugle – superstar Gary Barlow showing his support for Be Well!

You can read the rest of this month’s Bugle here.

Last month, Vicky Murphy, our Intergenerational Lead, had the opportunity of a lifetime to chat to her her childhood hero on live radio! 

The interview with Mancunian Gary, whose career started in the boy band Take That, was set up by BBC Radio Manchester after the Glossop Chronicle did an article on the project, which links locked down older people with youngsters by having them writing letters to each other. Gary heard Vicky being interviewed on the Mike Sweeney Show and said he’d like to speak to her. And just after Christmas their chat went out on 40 BBC local stations around the country.

Singer Gary Barlow wearing a white suit during a live performance.
Gary Barlow first found fame in 90s boy band Take That, and has since enjoyed a successful solo career
Vicky is a young woman crouched between two little boys. They are playing indoor curling and laughing.
Vicky works hard to bring people of all ages together, in person when possible and through the Do the Write Thing project when we can't meet in person

“It was like a dream come true,” Vicky told The Bugle. “A month later, I’m still pinching myself!”

Vicky explained Do the Write Thing to Gary: “My job is helping improve older people’s wellbeing using intergenerational activities like singing or reading together. During lockdown, instead of actually bringing them physically together I organised a project where they could write to each other.”

Gary said: “What a brilliant idea you’ve had there! It always amazes me. When you came on Radio Manchester, I thought this personality I’m hearing is going to lead to something great. Well done you and what a brilliant idea.” 

Vicky has, officially, been walking on air ever since.

If you or someone you know – of any age – would like to be part of Do the Write Thing, please ring us on 07590 839421. 


    Welcome to the Be Well website.

    This site is full of the latest information on our activities in Glossop and beyond. We hope you find something we do that you want to do and we look forward to seeing you very soon.


    Girls into science 2016. This picture is from our British science week project 2016, on Marple Aqueduct


    Our wonderful ladies Walking netball group! Meets every Monday 10.30am at Pure Vibes, Ebenezer street, Whitfield


    Come and find out the health benefits & happiness you get from Walking Football! We have three different sessions across Glossop and Whaley to choose from!


    These ladies just couldn’t resist dancing the afternoon away after our Jazz hands & Fancy Feet session. Come and join in every Wednesday at 1.30pm, Jericho Café, Gamesley.