HAMPSHIRE Hospitals’ physio team based at Alton Community Hospital has received international recognition for the WOW! factor they bring to patients’ lives through their Introduction to Exercise Group.

Group leaders Paula Lowry and Kandy Maddock were listed as one of only three finalists in the ‘WOW! You changed my life category’ at the awards ceremony in London.

The nomination that touched the hearts of the judges came from patient Ian Pragnell, 41, who attended the group at Alton hospital after spinal reconstruction surgery, and said: “Thank you seems a very small and insignificant way to describe my feelings. Paula and Kandy and the group changed my life.

“I am now three stones lighter, no longer taking any painkillers and run three times a week. I am planning on completing an Eliminator-style five-mile run soon where I will complete more than 100 obstacles, cross rivers and climb hillsides.

“All of this would not have been possible without the incredible support, interest and zest for life that Paula and Kandy, and the group, gave to me.”

Clinical specialist physiotherapist Kandy said: “We started the group in 2013 and it covers both education and exercise. Each week we highlight a new health-related topic for discussion and focus on long-term self-management and giving patients’ confidence in their own ability to function on a daily basis.”

Describing how the group had changed his life, Ian said: “When I started the group I managed only 48 calf raises in two minutes. For the next two days my legs felt as though they were on fire but I returned the following week and continued to both learn about my ‘chronic’ pain and how to cope with it using exercise and planning techniques.

“By the end of the six-week course I was completing 200 calf raises.”

And he added: “I hope I can inspire more people to take up their own personal challenges.”