UCLan director given Pandemic City Hero Award by Preston Mayor

Feixia Yu helped improve many people's wellbeing during the pandemic.

A director at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has received a special award from the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal, for helping people with their physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown.

Feixia Yu, the Director of UCLan’s Confucius Institute and founder of YuTaichi, has been awarded the Mayor’s Coronavirus Pandemic City Hero Award after offering nearly 300 free online tai chi and qigong classes since April 2020.

When the national lockdown was first announced, Feixia decided to offer people in Preston a free daily 30-minute session of tai chi to help them cope with the restrictions, and to bring people together, albeit electronically.

UCLan director Feixia Yu receiving her Covid hero award from Councillor Javed Iqbal, Mayor of Preston.

Using her local connections, the first 4.30pm session saw 12 people attend but by June, she had hundreds of regular attendees from across the UK and abroad, including France, Canada and Switzerland.

Feixia said: “I am very honoured and grateful for the recognition, not just for the work I have put in, but also for the physical and mental benefits to the participants.

“I had previously resisted doing any classes online, but the lockdown forced us all to embrace video technology. Word spread locally as I’m a member of the Preston People’s Choir and I’ve been involved in many cultural projects in the city.

“I wanted to provide a connection to people living alone and offer them something they could focus on for a short period of time every day. By the time I’d reached 100 consecutive days, hundreds of people were attending one or two classes a week but most days there’d be 50 at each session.”

Feixia Yu has delivered nearly 300 free online tai chi and qigong classes since April 2020.

The ancient Chinese practices of tai chi and qigong involve meditation, stretches and flowing movements, helping participants build strength, and improve flexibility and balance, whilst also quieting the mind.

When the restrictions eased, Feixia moved from daily to twice weekly online sessions, which are taking place on Wednesdays and Fridays between 5.30pm until 6.00pm throughout 2022.

She added: “It is lovely to see people taking up the opportunity to practice with me in their own space.

“I think my free online classes make participants feel empowered that they are taking control of their own health, it’s free, there’s no travelling time or cost or worry about car parking, and it happens in the comfort of their own space.

“I am very grateful to all the participants. Their feedback has been amazing, their company keeps me going when I feel lazy, and they keep me on my toes so I have to practice every day and constantly upgrade my own training.”

The Mayor of Preston Covid-19 awards were created to recognise the outstanding support individuals and companies gave to the city of Preston during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020/21.

To find out more about the sessions Feixia offers, email YuTaichi at [email protected]