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GP and Chief Executive of Intelligent Health Joins Active Essex as New Chair

Active Essex, the Active Partnership for Essex, has announced that Dr William Bird will be joining the Board as the new Chair.

With more than three decades of experience in practising medicine, William is one of the UK’s leading experts on physical activity and building active communities. He set up Intelligent Health in February 2010 with the vision of making a lasting difference to people’s health and wellbeing, by supporting them to become more active.

William has worked as a GP since 1991 and in 2010 he was appointed MBE for his services to health and physical activity. He has previously worked with Active Essex, advocating the importance of physical activity on people’s health and wellbeing, joining Director Jason as a keynote speaker across the health system, as well as beginning important conversations around how to embed physical activity into social prescribing and link worker pathways.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Bird said: “I know how important being connected to nature, being outside and being active can be to residents’ wellbeing. I am delighted to join Active Essex, with whom I already have such a great relationship with. As Chair I am looking forward to working with the team and the Board to continue to create further opportunities and develop innovative projects alongside partners and stakeholders, that will have a lasting and meaningful change in improving health through community connections. This is something I am so passionate about in my personal life and career.”

 William’s appointment to the Board, will help drive the strategic direction of the systems Fit for the Future strategy, which has been widely adopted across multiple sectors including health, social care, transport, planning, education, employers, criminal justice, and of course, sport and fitness. Active Essex is making good progress in helping communities build back better from Covid-19, developing partnerships, tackling inequalities and improving health and wellbeing across the county. Active Essex has also aligned their work to the five strategic priorities set out in the strategy and delivering them using a place-based approach across five hub teams.

The new Fit for the Future strategy was supported by outgoing Chair, Azeem Akhtar, in his final year as Chair, alongside a county-wide behaviour change campaign, Find Your Active; helping residents to find the activity that’s right for them. Since his appointment in 2016, he has helped Active Essex develop a sustainable and lasting legacy of sport and physical activity, with the aim of changing one million lives across Essex, Southend and Thurrock.

Director of Active Essex, Jason Fergus said: “The launch of the system’s new Fit for The Future strategy and Find Your Active campaign last year, has paved the way for Active Essex’s direction, and I know that this will be strengthened further by the addition of William to the Board. William brings with him a wealth of experience in the health sector and a passion for encouraging residents to get active for positive mental and physical wellbeing, using a holistic, community collaboration approach to turn the tide in physical inactivity. I would like to thank Azeem for his determination and commitment over the past six years. He has overseen a significant period of growth for Active Essex, and I look forward to working with William to build upon the successes and learnings of what we have delivered so far.”

Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, Louise McKinlay said; “Dr William Bird will be a fantastic addition to the Active Essex Board. By using the power of physical activity to help tackle inequalities in Essex, Active Essex and Dr Bird will greatly contribute to our Levelling Up agenda, by ensuring we continue to widen opportunities, making them as accessible and inclusive as possible. I look forward to working with him going forward.”

For more information about Active Essex, please visit:

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