NEIGHBOURS in a Dartmoor village are learning an ancient Chinese martial art to keep fit, thanks to Teignbridge's Active Villages campaign.
Each week almost 20 people meet in the Teign Valley village of Bridford to learn the secrets of Laojia Yilu, the original Tai Chi Chuan form which was conceived in just such a rural setting, Chen Village, Henan Province, in the 16th century.
The group is just one which has benefited from Teignbridge's Active Villages programme; an initiative aimed at developing long-term sports and physical activity opportunities so people of all ages can experience the fun of sport and build a life-long love of being active and healthy.
Devon Active Villages is a countywide programme coordinated by Active Devon and delivered across Teignbridge by Teignbridge Council's green spaces and active leisure department.
The programme is aimed at supporting rural communities to develop long-term sports and physical activity opportunities which help people of all ages to experience the fun of sport and build a life-long love of being active and healthy.
It aims to increase sports participation in Devon's rural communities by supporting village-based opportunities and is funded by Devon County Council and the Sport England Lottery Fund.
It has worked in more than 150 parishes with a population between 500 and 2,000 people across Devon.
In Teignbridge, it works in 20 rural areas to provide bespoke activities and support for clubs, groups, schools and volunteers to increase sporting opportunities for the whole family.
Funding has been used to provide activities for all ages including football, New Age kurling, cricket and Zumba.
So far, the project has involved 1,289 people in Teignbridge, taking sport and physical activity to their doorsteps.
For Bridford residents it all began at the annual summer fete when Active Villages volunteers were promoting exercise at the village's annual fete.
Residents had heard of the benefits of Tai Chi and wanted to try it for themselves.
They secured £484 in funding to set up their own local group.
They met in the village hall and were taught by professional instructor Tom Collingridge from the Exeter School of Tai Chi Chuan, a specialist in the original Chen style.
Roger Busby, a local Tai Chi enthusiast who canvassed the village to recruit students, said: "Active Villages was a god-send to kick-start our odyssey.
"To start up from scratch with a professional instructor would have been prohibitively expensive, but with Active Village sponsorship it proved easy to recruit a class."