Willen Hospice overwhelmed by response to virtual relay

Willen Hospice is thanking local runners who helped them raise a staggering £13,500 over just one weekend, thanks to their virtual 48 Hour Relay Run, organised in partnership with energie Fitness MK.

The money raised will pay for an entire day of care for patients both at the hospice and in their own homes, including pain management, holistic care, physiotherapy, lymphoedema, bereavement counselling, catering, and much more.

The run was the charity’s first virtual event and comes in response to the need to find new ways to raise money in light of Covid-19.

It started at 8am on Friday 17 April, and the final runner finished at the Hospice, cheered on by nurses, at 8am on Sunday 19 April.

Relay ‘legs’ were made up of either 20, 40 or 60 minute time slots. Around 90 runners took part over the weekend, ranging from 71-year-old John, running along a beach in Thailand, 21-year-old Sophi who ran her leg from the Sydney Opera House in Australia, to seven-year-old Hannah with her Mum in Towcester.

Tracey Jago, Events Manager, said “These are exceptionally challenging times for all charities, and we are no different. We are having to change and adapt both the way we deliver care and also the way we fundraise. When Rob Francis, and his team at energie Fitness based in Kiln Farm, approached us with the idea of running a 48 hour relay, with a virtual baton that could pass from person to person to keep the run going continuously, we were very excited.

“They simply set up a Zoom meeting and the individual runners were able to log on ahead of their allocated run slot, chat to the team and then “receive” the baton from the runner who was finishing their leg of the relay. It was brilliantly simple for everyone to do and meant that we could have runners from up and down the UK and even join us from around the world!”

Rob Francis, owner of energie Fitness Milton Keynes, explains, “We have loved supporting Willen Hospice since we set up our gym in Kiln Farm just over two years ago- we know that what they do for the Milton Keynes community is so valuable. As a business we have been hit by enforced closure, but it hasn’t stopped us from continuing to provide fitness, health and wellbeing activities and programming for our amazing members.

“We have a full programme of over 30 classes run by our own fantastic Milton Keynes based instructors. We have adapted to running interactive classes using Zoom meetings that we host, and this inspired us to create a virtual event for Willen Hospice.

“We were blown away by the response of both our members and the wider Milton Keynes community. I believe it is a reflection of how important Willen Hospice is to our city. Keep an eye out for further events that will be coming up that allows people to engage from wherever they are at this time.”

Tracey continued: “Willen Hospice needs to raise £4.7million every year, that’s £9 a minute. While this event raised a phenomenal amount of money in such a short space of time, it only pays for one day of care. I urge local people to follow us on social media, or keep an eye on our website to see the other ways they can support our fantastic hospice during these difficult times.”

Donations for the relay run are still coming in. To donate, go to willen-hospice.charitycheckout.co.uk/cf/48hrrelay

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