Nurses in Aberdeen are “paying forward some kindness” by totting up sponsored miles on their breaks to raise thousands for food banks looking after the region’s most vulnerable.
The NHS Grampian staff, who are caring for some of the sickest Covid-19 patients in intensive care wards, have covered the distance from their ward in Aberdeen to the North Pole during their breaks.
The whopping 3,654km effort, the brainchild of intensive care nurses Rachael Ironside and Claire McAvoy, has raised more than £8,000 for Aberdeen charity Instant Neighbour.
Ms McAvoy said the challenge came about over the festive period when “morale was a little low” as hospital admissions rose for a second time.
“We wanted to give everyone something else to think about,” she said.
“The challenge is for the whole of critical care staff, and everyone has got involved. We are travelling the distance from Aberdeen to the North Pole. You can either walk, run or cycle and everyone is recording it on Strava.
“Our target was £1,000 so we are totally chuffed. Everyone has been amazing and got into it. It’s created a great buzz.
“People on their nightshifts have been making sure to get out and go a walk round the hospital and others have been going on runs and doing 5km in their breaks. People have been really hitting it hard.
“We’ve managed to get a huge distance already, so I think we’ll absolutely smash it and might even get there and back – it’d be nice to get home again.”
At the height of the second wave, as the number of patients in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary rose to more than 130, the intensive care unit there had to be expanded to four wards.
Fellow nurse Ms Ironside added: “During the first lockdown we got so many meals and other things given to us, so we really wanted to give back, so we thought we’d raise the money for a wee local charity and we chose Instant Neighbour. They were so pleased.
“The support we received, from the general public, last year gave everyone a massive boost.
“This time, we wanted to help those struggling because of Covid-19. The last year has been incredible tough in the hospital and in the ICU, but in other ways we’ve been lucky.
“We are still coming to work and still seeing our friends and colleagues at work. Other people are far more isolated, have lost their jobs and some are struggling to get by – we wanted to pay the kindness forward to those people.”
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s intensive care unit is run by more than 250 staff.
“The second wave has been much worse,” Ms Ironside added. “The first wave was ‘let’s all pull together, let’s tackle Covid’. Then we discharged the last person and there was a thought of ‘that’s it, we did it, it’s over, what a ride that was’.
“Then it came back worse and you realised that it was going to be like this for a long time.”
Sean Berryman, who usually works as a surgical unit operational manager, but returned to front line nursing to help during the pandemic, added: “Although people are tired and have to wear the PPE for 12 hour shifts – and you can’t wait to get it off – this challenge has been a real boost to us all.”
To donate search ‘ari critical care fundraiser” on JustGiving.com