A health and wellbeing instructor has won a community champion award for keeping people fit and healthy during the coronavirus lockdowns with her online exercise classes.

Aimie Hamer from Clitheroe was nominated for the Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists 'We See You Community Champion Awards' by one of her class participants.

Ms Hamer was praised for the way she adapted her exercise classes to online, providing support and encouragement to people isolating and shielding at home.

As well as focusing on physical fitness, she promotes mental wellbeing which – according to the people who nominated her – prevented those she teaches from struggling further during the long periods spent at home during the lockdowns.

Ms Hamer, who was crowned North West regional winner said: “I absolutely love my role and bringing people together to exercise. I feel lucky to have been nominated simply for doing something I really enjoy.

“I relish the chance to make other people feel good about themselves through exercise, and starting the classes online during the lockdown was a way of maintaining a group connection focused on staying fit and healthy.

"While Covid-19 encouraged some people to be more active as they made good use of the time allowed outdoors, it was quite the opposite for others, with hours spent alone at home working from a computer.

"The virtual classes offered a route to something positive involving movement which had huge mental and physical health benefits through the social interaction that was on offer.

“Exercise is mindful, stress relieving, fun, mentally stimulating and physically rewarding, and I was never going to let lockdown steal that from people.”

Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists, which has over 30 practices across the UK, including three in the North West, launched the awards at the start of 2021 to celebrate the nation’s heroes who have gone out of their way to help people in their areas.

The campaign was developed after the business’ research revealed that 78 per cent of Brits believe local heroes add more to society than celebrities.

The research, which questioned 2,013 people, also discovered that since the start of the pandemic, two-fifths of people think there is more of a sense of community where they live and over half have seen people be more kind to others.

After receiving hundreds of entries, the business’ Benevolence Committee selected five regional winners.

Ms Hamer still runs online today, added: “The fantastic thing about online classes is that people from all different locations can join in.

"The sessions have expanded to a WhatsApp group where we share more than just exercise info.

"We’ve become a virtual lockdown family, and people are welcome to join us whenever they want to feel part of that.”

As well as winning £100, Ms Hamer will now go into the national round of the Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists 'We See You Community Champion Awards' and stands a chance of winning £1,000.