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Inspire Awards 2009 - September 09 - Fitness and faith: Beryl Bye

Fit Lives co-ordinator Beryl Bye trains and supports church volunteers to help them connect with people at sports centres and health clubs across the UK

“It's been said that the major hang-out places for people these days are home, work and the leisure centre,” says Beryl, who though she isn’t sport-mad herself, spends at least eight hours a week at Littledown, her local leisure centre in Bournemouth.

“We need to hang out with people where they are, not expect them to come to church.”
Beryl got involved with the national organisation Fit Lives after her nephew heard about the organisation at a Christians in Sport event.

“Health clubs offer a wide range of facilities and they recognise that people are searching spiritually and offer holistic therapies like Reiki, crystals and even tarot card reading,” she says. “Christianity is not offered as an option, and since people tend not to look to the Church, Fit Lives comes alongside people where they are.

“I see myself more like a farmer, sowing the seeds and ploughing the soil. Rather than imposing my beliefs I want to expose people to Christian spirituality so they ask questions.”

Beryl and her team of 15 trained volunteers from local churches have initiated ‘Dare to Dream’ lunches for ladies, run seasonal events for families and have started badminton ‘pay and play’ evenings.

“Our main aim is to be a positive Christian presence in the centre, and to respond to people’s spiritual questions, as well as encouraging them in their lives – to make life work better.”

When she’s not down at the gym, Beryl, who is also part of the Fit Lives UK management team, is often on the road finding and training people to work as Fit Lives Life Skills Co-ordinators.

 “I love visiting them in their local clubs and centres – affirming their value and worth. It’s so exciting to meet people who have a real heart and vision for their local communities and then see them released into a new ministry in leisure centres around the UK.”

Beryl Bye was nominated by Elaine Arthur from Bournemouth.

For more information visit Fit Lives or call: 0845 130 0552.

As told to Sharon Barnard

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