A MELKSHAM man who has ditched two cars and now likes to walk to keep fit has won a top sporty prize from Wiltshire Council for his efforts.

Phil McMullen, 59, from Melksham was chosen at random as the lucky winner of the council’s ‘Big Pledge’ challenge between June 5 and July 30.

Everyone who achieved a ‘gold’ distance in their chosen activity was entered into a prize draw to win a Fitbit activity tracker.

The device can be worn on the wrist and checks how many steps you take, your heart rate, how many minutes you are active and your calorie count. It can be synchronised with a smart phone or a computer.

A total of 12,156 people took part in this year’s Big Pledge campaign, with one lucky participant getting a top sporty prize for their efforts. Up to 43 schools also took part.

During the challenge Phil decided to use his car less and to walk more and so he quickly racked up the miles in the process.

Phil said: “As someone who’s both a dog owner and very involved in the community in Melksham I tend to walk a fair amount anyway.

“It was interesting to enter the Big Pledge and keep a record of just how many steps were involved each day in trudging between meetings.

“What’s made a huge difference for us has been the fact that there’s now a decent train service through Melksham.

“We’ve gone from having three cars on the drive to just one, so consequently even the trip to collect this unexpected and very welcome prize has involved a few more steps in getting from home to the station and from Trowbridge station along to County Hall, than simply getting in the car and driving there as I would have once done."

This year’s Wiltshire Council Big Pledge challenge, called London Calling, celebrated the World Athletics Championships coming to London by encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take part in a series of challenges to help them to get active, get out and have fun.

The aim of the challenge was to ‘collect’ all 30 countries taking part in this summer’s championships over the eight weeks by having a go at a variety of challenges including swimming, running, walking and cycling.

Chris Williams, Wiltshire Council portfolio holder for communities, said: “As in previous years, our Big Pledge campaign has encouraged thousands of people to get more active and hopefully they’ve all seen a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

“Although our campaign is now over for this year we hope that people still continue their efforts and as a council we’ll be here to support them with the numerous leisure activities and opportunities available in Wiltshire.

“I’d like thank everyone who took part and I hope they all get involved again next year when Big Pledge returns.”

Westbury was the area with the highest total of individual sign-ups with 887, and the area with the people that completed the furthest distance was Trowbridge with 78,067 kilometres.

Up to 70 per cent of those taking part reached Bronze, Silver or Gold level, a 38 per cent increase on last year. Up to 58 per cent of participants reached Gold level, a nine per cent increase on 2016.