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Wick healthcare staff step it up for charity raising over £1500


By Jean Gunn

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Five members of the group – Marie MacKillop, Jo-Anne Anderson, Fiona Sutherland, Kirsty Sutherland and Lauren McWilliam – took part in an early morning sunrise walk at Ben Dorrery this month.
Five members of the group – Marie MacKillop, Jo-Anne Anderson, Fiona Sutherland, Kirsty Sutherland and Lauren McWilliam – took part in an early morning sunrise walk at Ben Dorrery this month.

Not content with completing a virtual end-to-end walk, local healthcare staff are now raising money for charity by taking part in this month's Maggie's Highland 50 Miles Challenge.

The nurses from Caithness General Hospital and the Wick Medical Centre have been busy keeping their spirits up and doing their bit for others at the same time.

Marie Mackillop (35), explained that last year a group of them had decided to each walk 847 miles – the distance between Land's End and John O'Groats. And as soon as they finished they signed up to this year's Maggie's challenge to run 50 miles in January.

She said: "We are trying to practice what we preach, challenge ourselves to become healthier and help others at the same time. Together we can make sure that people with cancer and their families get the support they need. Every donation will make a massive difference."

Under the group name of – Not fast but fabulous – the women have already raised over £1500. Their challenge has involved running in a variety of weather conditions, but the generous donations are helping to keep them motivated.

In just over a week the 15 team members had logged 223.37 out of the 750 mile target. Taking part along with Marie are: Ann Gunn, Yvonne Coghill, Lauren McWilliam, Susan Robertson, Kirsty Sutherland, Donna Sutherland, Kirsty Bain, Fiona Sutherland, Lousie Campbell, Pauline Mackay, Jo-Anne Anderson, Kirsty Mackay, Leigh-anne Thomson and Sharon Stewart.

Commenting on the 2021 end-to-end challenge Marie, who works as a nurse in the Rosebank wing at Caithness General, as well as a practice nurse with Dr Pearson, said that the participants started clocking up the miles in January and continued until the end of December with some finishing the distance in less than a year, while others took the whole 12 months.

Explaining the idea behind the epic walk, she said: "It was kind of because 2020 was one of the most daunting, challenging years of our careers. I think we were sitting at Hogmanay and said we were going to do it. We wanted something to make us feel positive – to make us feel better. It was great having a year-long plan.

"It was all about doing something together as a group to improve our minds. We all decided we just wanted to be more active, get outdoors and get fresh air."

Around 14 of them took part and the they started up a little group chat posting photos of their walks. "The whole lot of us could not believe how much time we spent outdoors last year," said Marie. "It was something healthy and really good to do."

The local nurse confessed that she was very last minute in completing her challenge taking it right up to the deadline of December 31. She was joined in some of her hill walks by her two young sons.

This time, instead of a whole year, they are doing their challenge in just one month for Maggie's Highland, and will be helping people with cancer in the process. "This year we wanted to help others," Marie said.

They quickly set up a group of 15 people, all local healthcare staff – a mix of nurses, auxiliary nurses and one student nurse – from Caithness General and both the Riverview and Dr Pearson practices in Wick.

Whereas last year they covered the distance by taking part in walks, hikes and hill climbs, this time they have upped the pace and are tackling the 50 miles by taking part in short runs, for some a new form of exercise.

With their different work shifts it is difficult for everyone to get together for runs, however their group chats help keep them inspired.

"We have raised over £1500 so far which has totally exceeded our expectations – totally motivating us to keep going," added Marie.

A few of the group climbed Ben Dorrery early last Tuesday to capture the sunrise.

Donations can be made through the group's Facebook fundraising link – "Not fast but fabulous" fundraiser for the Run 50 Miles in January Challenge.


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