Hat trick of charity marathons to thank hospital for Sheffield gran’s care

Gerard Hunter
Gerard Hunter

A kindhearted man who is running in memory of his grandmother who received ‘second to none’ care at a city hospital, is asking the public to join him in pounding the streets to raise funds for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

Gerard Hunter, aged 34, from Crookes, was so impressed with the care his grandmother Rachel Hunter received at the Palliative Care Unit at the Northern General Hospital that he’s taking on a hat trick of fundraising half marathons throughout the year.

2016 Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon in Sheffield.

2016 Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon in Sheffield.

Gerard’s first mission is the Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon. He hopes others will join him in taking advantage of charity places to raise funds for hospital departments close to their hearts.

Gerard said: “My gran was cared for by the Palliative Care Unit after the lung cancer she had treatment for a few years ago returned and had spread around her body. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in August 2016, and sadly passed away in September.

“She only spent just under a week in the unit, but she had the best care possible, better than I could have ever imagined. There is a different feel from a regular ward, it’s separate from the main hospital and has a secluded feel. It was very calm.

“My Gran was in a private room which was big enough to accommodate our large family. It felt like we were able to visit her on our terms, rather than having to be mindful of visiting hours. It gave us privacy and outside was a nice grassy area, which gave us a place to stand for a moments pause to take everything in.

“The staff were so attentive and sensitive to the family’s needs despite the other work on the ward they had to carry out. There was round the clock care and continual checks and advice. The dedication of the staff not only made her stay there as physically painless as possible, but it was also a huge comfort for the family too.

“I can’t even start to imagine how tough it must be working on a unit like that, but the dedication, professionalism and sympathy showed by the staff was what made the biggest difference.”

Palliative Care aims to improve the quality of life for people with life-limiting conditions, by addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs, and by paying attention to the needs of those close to them.

Patients are cared for in the Palliative Care Unit at the Northern General Hospital and at home where they are supported by community nurses and other specialists.

Sheffield Hospitals Charity continue to fund many different areas on the Unit which helps to optimise patient care, from the purchase of a Rhapsody Hi-Lo bath to provide hydro therapy massage, providing staff for complimentary therapies, to home comforts including TV, free broadband and decorative items like curtains and wall lighting.

To raise further funds to improve the unit, Gerard is thinking big, planning in three half marathons this year, with a burning ambition to complete the London Marathon in 2018.

“Running has been a revelation for me in the last 15 months, helping me lose more than four-and-a-half stone. I had never run or attempted to until one day on a chilly October morning, I decided I would have a go at running to work. My office had just installed a shower as part of a refurb, so I thought I would make use of it. Ever since then, I have been hooked.

“I started going to early morning spin classes to get my general fitness levels up and eventually I started entering the 5k parkrun events, then I took part in the Sheffield 10k.

“My fundraising for Sheffield Hospitals Charity will continue for many years to come. Visiting a Palliative Care Unit like that when any family member or loved one is in there is never easy. However, when you are in such a top-class facility, with the surroundings to step outside, it helped to take the edge off everything,” Gerard said.

The Plusnet Yorkshire Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, 9 April 2017. To register for a charity place and raise funds for Sheffield’s patients, call on 0114 271 1351 or email charity@shct.nhs.uk