The National Forum for Health and Wellbeing held its first public health mela since Covid19 pandemic on Saturday 18th March 2023 at the Foster building, University of Central Lancashire.

The enthusiasm of public and the various stall holders was unbelievable. Mela had nearly 70 stalls, health MOT and student presentations.

Before the opening of the main event the breakfast meeting was very successful and well attended. Mr Russell Hogarth, honorary fellow of the UCLan and community engagement officer of NFHW, welcomed the gathering. Professor Romesh Gupta chaired the session and the discussion on the topic ‘Management of Chronic Diseases— A Holistic Approach to Health’. It generated a lively debate about the role of complementary medicine in the management of several chronic health conditions such as chronic pain, mental health, obesity, COPD and so on.  Many a health practitioners shared their views and personal experiences.

Hundreds of people came through the doors of the Foster building throughout the day to visit stalls and take advantage of a free health check, blood test and advice.

The opening ceremony started with vibrant Bollywood dances performed by Mrs Sheema Hazuria and her group  from Fylde coast. Welcoming the Chief guest Sir Mark Hendrick MP, other dignitaries, visitors  and stall holders, Chairman of the NFHW Professor Romesh Gupta OBE said ‘I am extremely proud that the NFHW in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire and numerous other organisations has been able to organise this Health Mela since Covid19 pandemic. Although the NFHW did organise virtual events and health related seminars, we are pleased to welcome you all in person. It is our honour that Sir Mark Hendrick, MP has kindly agreed to attend the event. I also welcome Cllr. Neil Darby, Mayor of Preston, other dignitaries, guests, stall holders from several organisations and volunteers.


Opening the event Sir Mark said ‘It is wonderful to attend the Health Mela once again in person, after a post-pandemic hiatus and it is great to see mela-goers proactively engaged in seeking health and wellbeing advice.  I am very proud that this event has been running successfully in my constituency for over twenty years and the fantastic public health advice that is delivered to different sections of society.  I am pleased to see that more young people are involved in the Health Mela this year and hope it continues in the future.’

After declaring the event open, NFHW awarded its two Fellowships. Sir Mark was honoured with Fellowship in recognition for his association, support and inspiration for over 20years by Professor Romesh Gupta, OBE, Chair of the NFHW, Mr. Ishwer Tailor, MBE,  President of the GHS and Professor Alison Carr, Head of the UCLan’s school of medicine. Mr Nigel Farnsworth, manager, Creative Community Group, Preston was honoured for his volunteering services over a long period by Cllr. Neil Darby, Mayor of Preston city.

Councillor Neil Darby, Mayor of Preston said “The Health Mela was outstanding. I was blown away with just how many people were brought together in one place to discuss the health of people and the community. It certainly achieves its goal of bringing health into the community and I am sure it will continue to be successful into the future on this strong model. The breakfast meeting was also extremely interesting and a great way to listen to thoughts about a topic in a semi-formal format. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Sir Mark Hendrick, and the Mayor of Preston later visited and interacted with the stall holders and the public. They both were impressed that we hold this event on the UCLan campus each year and welcome the public with open arms into the university.

The NHS also kindly came along with several stalls from various organisations including an inflatable bowel that members of the public could walk through and ask questions regarding various issues and diseases related to the bowel.

The Holistic Living Group provided Reiki taster session, as usual. Twelve individuals took advantage of the these sessions and provided very positive feedback.

Yet again the smoothie bike was a great attraction for both young and old.

And the Teddy bear clinic was enjoyed by children of all ages.

Students from UCLan’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences helped provide various health measurements and assessments as part of the Health MOT along with volunteers from the Blood Drop team.

Initial analysis of the 83 health MOT shows that south Asian community took advantage of the facility by almost 2:1. Majority of the attendees did not have a history of hypertension, diabetes nor were they smokers. However, 38 individuals had a systolic BP of over 140 mmHg and 27 had diastolic BP of more than 90 mmHg. Twenty three individuals had cholesterol higher than 5 mmol/L and 27 were found to have capillary blood glucose of greater than 7 mmol/L. We are grateful to Dr Chiranjeevi Kumar Endukuru of the School of Medicine for analysing the data.

The event was also visited by A level students from as far afield as Oxford and Leicester who had taken part in a poster competition. They were treated to a personal Q&A session.

This event would not have been possible without the amazing support from various stall holders from several organisations, University of Central Lancashire and its various departments and staff, volunteers from the Rotary International, Gujrat Hindu Society and the NFHW volunteers.

We have had a very positive response from all the visitors, students and stall holders and we will continue our work with vigour and enthusiasm.

This is what two of the medical students had to say

“The Preston Mela 2023 was in equal parts an opportunity to apply my practical skills as a doctor-in-training, and a chance to be exposed to new and exciting ideas and people from a plethora of fascinating fields.

My favourites were certainly the inflatable gut from Blackpool Teaching hospitals, the avid medical students to-be presenting important topics, and the incredible six year-old girl displaying her mental abacus skills. Even though I will be leaving Preston this year, I will be sure to visit again when the next Mela comes around.”
Kind regards
Hugo Labat
Year 5 MBBS Student, School of Medicine
University of Central Lancashire
I am Amir, one of the third year Medical Students,
The Mela was fantastic in my opinion. We had an excellent uptake and we managed to identify a number of at risk patients, and patients whose chronic conditions were poorly controlled. The event was also really fun and engaging, with many cool demonstrations and activities going on. As a Medical Student, I can also confidently say that engaging with the residents helped me hone my communication skills. I commend your hard work in leading this Mela, we had a high number of partners and charities showing up to run stands; I am sure organising all of this was quite complex.
Amirreza Nanaei Year 3 Medical Student

Below is a link to some of the videos recorded on the day.

Photos by Mr Ishwar Tailor and Ian Smith