Frances Rayner, centre, at Nelson Academy, with teacher Ali Cupit, left, and parent Leah Hoyle with sons Alfie, left, and Riley.

A community step challenge in Downham Market has seen hundreds  grabbing a pedometer and taking part.

Organisers of the annual Downham Games are behind the month-long initiative, asking residents to collectively step the distance from Downham to Tokyo where the 2020 Olympics will be held.

Some 14.5 million steps are needed before the challenge ends when the games takes place on Sunday, June 9.

Local business Downham Tandoori is sponsoring the step challenge and the organisers are selling the pedometers for £1 each.

Frances Rayner, one the games organisers, said helping support people to improve their mental wellbeing through physical activity was a big part of the reason for holding the challenge.

She said: “I feel passionately about getting the community moving.

“Physical health and mental wellbeing are hugely driven by the amount of physical activity we do and we want to demonstrate this can be as simple as walking every day and increasing the amount of steps we take as much as possible.

“With Games day going from strength to strength, adding this challenge has felt like a positive step to take, connecting more people in the community with the key aim to improve health.”

A team event has seen more than 20 teams taking part, including many local businesses.

Schools are getting involved, including Hillcrest Primary, Downham Market Academy, Wimbotsham and Stow Academy and Downham Preparatory School.

While at Nelson Academy, in Nursery Road, pupils have snapped up more than 350 pedometers already.

Teacher Ali Cupit has organised a month-long series of activities with staff and children to both record steps and promote physical and mental wellbeing.

Mrs Rayner visited the school and met parent Leah Hoyle, whose family is supporting the challenge, including members taking part while on holiday in Australia.

“The children and parents are so enthusiastic and so keen to have a pedometer to be able to see how much they are moving on a daily basis,” added Mrs Rayner.

For more on the challenge or games see the group’s Facebook page at