Hundreds of charity supporters have completed an epic virtual mileage challenge during lockdown, raising more than £45,600 in the process.
More than 650 people took part in Friends of ANCHOR’s Going the Distance initiative, which took place throughout the month of June.
The charity launched the appeal in the hope of covering the 2,600 miles that encircle the North-east of Scotland, where the organisation provides support for cancer and haematology patients.
By the end of the month, the participants had clocked up more than 95,100 miles – lapping the original target 36 times – equivalent to travelling around the world over three-and-three-quarter times.Friends of ANCHOR Finance and Fundraising Coordinator Carly Munro said: “We were simply blown away by the enthusiasm and commitment we saw from everyone who took part in Going the Distance.
“There was some real creativity going into clocking up the miles, as we had several people taking part while shielding, doing laps of their garden or making sure they got out at the crack of dawn so as not to see a soul. One of our participants even blinged up her garage to look like a club while she ran on her treadmill. It’s been such an inclusive challenge and it’s amazing to see what can be achieved when people come together in spirit, even from afar.”
Of the hundreds who took part, many were from the North-east of Scotland where the charity is based, including team Njoror’s Northern Wanderers from Shetland, who covered the most Northerly miles. The challenge went international, with people getting involved from Switzerland, Spain, Texas, Dubai, Dublin and Iraq – where offshore worker Bruce Bain clocked up miles from the on-site gym.
The full total raised, through fundraising and personal donations from those taking part, was an incredible £45,629.11.
Nicola Scott took part with her husband Colin and teenage son Jack. Their neighbours and close friends, the Garrioch family, joined them for socially distanced walks in their neighbourhood of Milltimber, when the guidelines allowed. The team covered more than 1,400 miles, raising more than £4,100 in the process.
Nicola recently completed her own treatment within the ANCHOR Unit, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 and previously undergone chemotherapy treatment elsewhere. Her treatment in the Unit included surgery, a 9-day inpatient stay and radiotherapy, which she completed at the end of May, just before the challenge started.
Nicola said: “It was a year ago in June that I got the devastating news I had breast cancer. It certainly has been a year of many ups and downs and I can 100% say that I could not have done it without the support of the ANCHOR Unit. The staff of this special unit on many occasions turned my downs into ups.
“I always knew that the ANCHOR Unit and Friends of ANCHOR were an amazing thing to have on our door step in Aberdeen, but it’s not until you use the services that you realise just how much all the little things mean; from getting an ice lolly delivery from the wellbeing team in the afternoon to getting my feet sorted by their podiatrist when the chemo had taken its toll.
“As a family, this challenge really kept us going and gave us an extra lockdown focus at a time when I would have otherwise been celebrating the end of treatment.”
Friends of ANCHOR PR & fundraising executive Erica Banks added: “In a year where we have been unable to proceed with any of our fundraising events, we hoped this virtual event would bring a new sense of purpose to those daily outings, while raising a few funds.
“The success of Going the Distance is down to the amazing people who took part and those who supported them every step of the way. None of this would have been possible without them and we would like to say a huge thank you.”
The highest mileage total came from Team Cowan, whose 26 members fought through the rain, hail and high winds that plagued much of June, to reach 8,554 miles between them and a fundraising total of £4,179.39, in memory of Ewan Cowan.
Miss Banks added: “Some of our participants chose to walk, run or cycle in memory of a loved one or in support of someone going through treatment, and we have seen some very special and touching legacies created.”Among those taking part were also nurses, nutritionists, physicians, consultants and senior charge nurses from the ANCHOR Unit, who see the impact made by Friends of ANCHOR’s support day in, day out.
The youngest to be part of the appeal were the newborns being pushed along by their mums in the ‘Buggy Mammas’ running group – while two babies were also born into Going the Distance families at the end of June.
Throughout the pandemic, Friends of ANCHOR has funded direct support where it’s needed most, including thousands of nutritious lunches for staff in the ANCHOR Unit, six ward assistants who deliver vital non-medical support within the wards, multiple additional pieces of equipment which have directly helped NHSG deal with the pandemic and patient-specific initiatives including virtual wellbeing support and practical support for patients travelling from Orkney, Shetland and further afield for their cancer treatment at ARI.
Friends of ANCHOR’s operational costs are fully covered by local company Balmoral Group, as they have been since the charity was founded in 1997 – meaning 100% of the total raised will go directly to the cause.