Do you know someone who has gone the extra mile during the pandemic?

We asked you to tell us about north Essex’s Covid heroes. Meet our first shining example (and send us your nominations using the link below)...

FORGET Joe Wicks.

Colchester has its very own super-fit instructor who has been working wonders to keep people active during the pandemic.

Melinda Hinchliffe has been nominated for her tireless community efforts during the last year.

She has been described as a true hero who deserves recognition.

Bubbly motivator Melinda is a gym class instructor who normally works at Colchester Leisure World.

She understands that fitness is a real escape for many and provides a source of happiness, motivation, positivity and inspiration

During every lockdown, she has selflessly given her time to put on online classes for charity.

She gets no payment and offers them for a low rate, with all proceeds going to charities (so far, raising over £1,200).

They range from dance and cardio to weights and strength work and there are options for low/no equipment, plus low-impact options to keep the noise down for the neighbours, so they are very practical, too.

Dedicated Melinda has demonstrated a real commitment to supporting those who use her classes, providing a bit of normality in the past crazy year.

Gazette: Source of inspiration - Melinda Hinchcliffe Picture: Tracey HollandSource of inspiration - Melinda Hinchcliffe Picture: Tracey Holland

She has been a rock to help people deal with the mental and physical challenges posed by Covid.

She is modest and always denies she does anything special, but really is one of those people who makes a difference to those she comes into contact with - bringing smiles to faces and making exercise fun.

She provides a connection which is sociable - also putting on online quizzes to help people stay connected - but also a chance to forget about other things.

Melinda, by day a key worker for Colchester's Helpline service, where she assists the elderly who have fallen in their homes, also runs an annual fitness charity event, although of course this had to be cancelled in 2020.

One of the many nominations we received came from Melinda's daughter, Chelsea Holland.

She said: "My mum is the most enthusiastic woman I've ever met. She loves her fitness and encouraging people in their fitness journey.

"She is keeping people sane, fit, happy and helping to reduce the isolation people are feeling during this pandemic.

"In such challenging times, I've seen for myself the difference she is making to people's lives.

"She is my covid hero."

Other nominations we received described Melinda as "a great mental health ambassador", "a bundle of energy and enthusiasm", "an incredible role model", with an "infectious" energy and attitude to life.


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