Emma Richards, Community Engagement Facilitator at Blythe House Hospicecare, took part in a special fundraising event for the hospice earlier this month, alongside fellow members of an exercise class. They each ran 5km with their families during lockdown – making up a marathon 26 mile total! Emma explains…

We are more than aware that a lot can happen in a week. We have heard of amazing gestures of generosity in times of such adversity. I would like to share with you how touched I was to hear the HIT class I attend was going to hold a fundraising event and it had been decided that Blythe House Hospicecare would be the recipient.

Jo Torr, who organised the fundraising event, said: ‘I wanted to organise and participate in this relay marathon in aid of Blythe House Hospicecare, as the care and love that hospices provide to families is second to none. Their whole ethos is to create a loving, supportive and peaceful environment for the patients and loved ones at a stressful and emotional time.’

Participants volunteered within minutes of a text going out from Jo. My boys volunteered to participate and I agreed to accompany them. I immediately responded to the team with the following message:

‘A huge thank you in advance. It is such a challenging time for all charities who continue to provide front line care in the community, for the community. In the light of the COVID-19 outbreak, I have listened to patients and carers in the Living Well service, who have had their support network removed overnight with social distancing. More recently, I have been redeployed to the Hospice at Home team. I have seen immediately how much our care and compassion impacts so positively on the patients and carers that we listen to and visit. We have never been needed like we have now. On behalf of Blythe House, I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.’

With the lockdown at that time only allowing for an hour of outside activity, Jo decided on the relay idea; 3 groups with 3 participants in each group all scattered over the High Peak. The run commenced at 11.00 a.m. on Sunday 3rd of May. When each of the groups completed their 5k distance, they texted the next participant. I was moved with joy at the messages of support that began to pour in from everyone once the relay had been completed.

Donna said: ‘I felt it was a privilege to run in support of Blythe House, because not only was it a wonderful way to join with my running friends in our relay event, but also to connect with the Blythe House community. It is important to reach out and connect, particularly during this time of isolation. You are all in our thoughts and hearts.’

Even more amazing to think that it took only one week from the conception to completion! Two days after the relay marathon, we have raised an amazing £1,005 and still counting.

Georgie said: ‘It is lovely to do something positive and worthwhile with everything that is going on in the world. I am going to bed feeling happy that we did something that will make a difference.’

Torr de Force have been blown away by the generosity of everyone who has taken the time to donate. I would like to present to you all the Torr de Force team: Jo Torr, Georgie Swift, Nicki Horry, Aga Bickford, Alexandra Sheldon, Miriam Fanshawe (who then had to volunteer her husband Richard, due to an injury – bless you for standing in last minute to allow this to go ahead!), Donna Wood, Noah and Asher Richards (my boys), and of course me following up at the end!

When a group of ladies (and men/boys) come together and unite, we are unstoppable! What a formidable Force indeed!

As Blythe House CEO, Janet said: ‘You are hero’s!’ – I couldn’t agree more!

I would like to finish with another quote from Donna: ‘We are a community not just individuals’.

These sentiments are so meaningful/profound, as the feeling is replicated by Blythe House Hospicecare. We are there for the community but equally the community is there for us. We should all take pride in recognising we are so valued for the crucial role we are playing in our community.