Last week I attended a reception in Parliament marking the 20th birthday of ‘Parkrun’, which is coming up in October.

This came just a few weeks after I achieved a personal Parkrun landmark, completing my 200th run at Parc Bryn Bach, Tredegar.

I began Parkrun in 2017 and haven’t looked back.

It has become a big part of my life. Through Parkrun I’ve experienced the physical and mental benefits to be had and witnessed others experience the same, not just through regular running, but also from volunteering and even socialising over a cup of tea and toast afterwards.

Over the years it has become a mission of mine to spread the word about this fantastic initiative, encouraging local GP surgeries to become ‘Parkrun practices’ – a scheme aimed at emboldening staff to ‘prescribe’ Parkrun to patients - creating the Parkrun All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which I chair, and nudging fellow MPs to get involved and get the message out in their constituencies.

It’s great that Parkrun gets such strong support from fellow Gwent MPs Nick Thomas-Symonds, Jess Morden and Gerald Jones, and also in the Senedd, where John Griffiths MS chairs the Parkrun group.

Parkrun really is a phenomenon. There are now 1,251 events each weekend in the UK, and events have now spread across 22 countries worldwide.

This is a public health initiative that really works.

A few years ago, at the Parkrun APPG, we saw the results of a study carried out by the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University showing the provable public health value of Parkrun to communities like ours in Blaenau Gwent.

We heard how Parkrun is particularly successful in engaging the "hardest to reach" people, having an especially positive impact on those who were less likely to have previously engaged in regular physical activity. Parkrun participation is also shown to be a catalyst for further physical activity.

We are very lucky to have two fantastic Parkrun events in Blaenau Gwent, as well as others across our valleys.

It’s free to take part and just a great way to spend a Saturday morning. I would encourage anyone looking for a welcoming and inclusive way to get active to go along and see for themselves.

For me, running around Parc Bryn Bach lake is the closest thing to heaven, and not just because it’s the highest altitude Parkrun in the UK.

I would especially like to thank the volunteers who make these events possible each week, come rain or shine.