Barking and Dagenham (B&D) junior parkrun is located in the eastern London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
Sonya Veerasamy is a regular Run Director at B&D, and a parkrun Outreach Ambassador, and she tells us more about the event…
My brother, Kresh Veerasamy, set up the event in 2014 working with then Ambassador, Andrew Gwilliam, and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. I was roped in to volunteer from the first event with my parents who were already keen parkrunners. I have now volunteered over 150 times!
Our event is small with around 25-30 children per week but very welcoming and has a great family atmosphere – we really feel like the volunteers, parents and children that attend every week are part of our extended family.
The course is a flat, two lap course in Central Park, Dagenham – all on grass. It’s great for a junior event as we can see all the children across the entire course from the start/finish line.
The course is located just behind the Dagenham Fire Station, and the most famous landmark on our course is the Station’s distinctive tower, and is overlooked by the Grade II listed Civic Centre designed by E. Berry Webber in 1936.
Our event has really become a community event. The fire station allows us to use their community storage area to keep our kit, the mini golf cafe welcomes us every week for post parkrun coffee and we have a loyal and dedicated group of regular juniors and volunteers. Two of our juniors have reached their 100th event milestone and many of our team have volunteered over 100 times.
Whilst we are small, we have some wonderful stories from our parkrun family where we can clearly see the positive impact of parkrun. For example, Andy Beazeley has become one of our core volunteers in the past year. Andy saw our event one Sunday morning and came to ask what it was all about. Shortly afterward he brought his eldest daughter, Ameilia, to our event.
A year later, the whole family attend both junior parkrun and parkrun regularly and have joined the local Dagenham 88 runners. Andy is giving up smoking and both he and his partner are training for their first half marathon which is in March 2018. Amelia has nearly reached her 50th milestone and her sister, Evie, completed her first junior parkrun on the day of her 4th birthday!
n January 2017, Andy Baddeley, two-time Olympian and parkrun World Record holder visited a local primary school in Ilford with me to encourage children to try the local junior parkrun.
Andy then joined the event team the following Sunday; welcoming 16 first timers, leading the warm-up and giving out hi-fives. The school’s headmistress, Mrs Johnson, ran the 2K course alongside a number of her pupils!
Hardeep, and her children Karina (7) and Jia (9) are one family that now benefits from the; “We knew nothing about junior parkrun before the assembly and the girls came home from school really excited about giving it a go. We all went along to Central Park the next Sunday morning and now we go every week, no matter the weather.”
We also love welcoming parkrun tourists. Our event is small and we are always delighted to meet new people. The beauty of a small event is that you have time to cheer every single child across the line and there’s something special about that.
Like with all parkruns, we love having a coffee and a natter post-parkrun! Last year we discovered a small kiosk associated with the mini golf course in Central Park. The lovely owner allows us to use the members’ area to process results. It’s a hidden gem in Dagenham and you can get a cuppa for 50p!
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It was wonderful to see another record attendance last weekend, with 27,500 participants across 218 events, in 5 countries. And, of course, we would particularly like to welcome the 1,640 first timers who walked, jogged, ran or volunteered with us for the very first time. Whilst it’s sometimes easy to get bogged down in…