FRONTLINE NHS workers from two Derbyshire GP practices are in a head-to-head fitness battle raising funds for end-of-life charity Treetops Hospice.
More than 130 members of staff from Park Medical and Overdale surgeries – including those who helped prepare Derby Arena ahead of their mass Covid vaccination programme – are walking, jogging and cycling a total of 8,187 miles; the equivalent number of miles between Derby and Tokyo, where the postponed Olympic Games is set to take place.
Staff have been split into seven teams of 21, each with a team captain. They are recording their progress via fitness app Strava and are hoping to raise hundreds of pounds for Treetops, which provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Heather Simpson, who celebrates her 30th year working for Park Medical Practice this year, said:
“The past 12 months have been a very challenging time for the practice and its staff. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been working hard to run the GP surgery, helping to set up and run the ‘red hub’ for Covid patients and set up the vaccination centre at Derby Arena.
“The staff are working so hard, splitting their time working at the practice and also at the arena with many giving up their days off, weekends and annual leave to help the people of Derby city get vaccinated.
“Treetops has always been a charity which is close to the hearts of everyone at Park Medical and Overdale practices; our patients benefit greatly from the services provided by the hospice, and some members of our patient participation group volunteer there. We have entered a team into the Starlight Strut every year, too.
“This challenge gives our staff a non-Covid focus and is a chance to have fun whilst also improving both physical and mental wellbeing. Sometimes it gets forgotten that we are also facing the same personal challenges as others during the pandemic, as well as trying to do the right thing.
“We encourage staff to be kind to themselves, and going for a walk, run or jog on your own or with loved ones is a great way to clear your head. This challenge is a good way of keeping active and raising funds for a good cause; we know of the challenges charities such as Treetops are currently facing due to Covid.”
The Derby to Tokyo challenge began on March 20, and the teams are hoping to have completed it by the time the rearranged Olympic Games begin on July 23.
To do this, each team will have to log a minimum of 65.2k of activity each day. It is hoped that the teams will raise at least £3,000 for Treetops.
Heather, practice manager at Park Medical, added:
“We do hope that we’ll be able to do team walks once Covid restrictions are lifted.
“Some staff are walking at lunchtime to give them a screen break and to get some fresh air. The team challenge will allow the staff to get to know each other better and form closer bonds.
“We have had support from our patients, many who we have continued to see over the past 12 months as we carry on with routine appointments such as immunisations for children, smear tests and blood tests.
“We have learned so much during the pandemic, and while the services which we offer may have changed, the commitment to provide our patients with the very best care we can with the resources we have available hasn’t.
“The patients have all been very grateful, and we have received some lovely cards and feedback about how hard the team has worked. I hope that they will all be proud of how their practices are getting involved with the challenge and continue to support us.”
To donate to the Park Medical and Overdale surgeries challenge, head to their JustGiving page.