At the start of June, Friends of ANCHOR set a goal to “go the distance”, covering the 2,600 miles in the perimeter of the region it serves.
More than 500 people have now signed up to take part, with participants from all over the North-east and even Europe and the USA – and they have completed the mileage target four times over in the first week alone.
Friends of ANCHOR Fundraising and Marketing Assistant Naomi Forrest said: “The response has been superb, we have individuals and families taking part from all over the North-east and throughout Scotland, as well London, Spain, Romania, Switzerland and Texas. We’ll be gathering the number of miles covered over the weekend and from what we’ve seen so far, I think it will be a pretty impressive figure.
“People’s reasons for getting involved are varied – from families bringing some child-friendly fun and distraction back to their daily outings, to squads of households banding together virtually to reach a huge goal. Some of our participants are walking or running in memory of a loved one who has passed away and so many people have told us they’re looking forward to having a positive target to look forward to.
“When we set out with this challenge, we had little idea of what to expect and it’s been such a welcome boost for the fundraising team see the level of engagement so far. If any others would like to join us, we’d be delighted to have them on board. Every mile covered and every penny donated will help us go the distance for cancer and haematology patients in the North-east, who need support now more than ever.”
The charity has welcomed more than 60 teams, with the ‘Walkie Talkies’ pledging to keep in touch via phone call on their daily outings and a group of roller skaters taking on miles on their wheels. The University of Aberdeen’s Medical Society is also taking part, along with teams including ‘Easier said than run’, ‘Donna’s Diamonds’, ‘Kirkhill School of Walk’ the ‘Walking Sticks’.
Among those taking part are nurses, nutritionists, physicians, consultants and senior charge nurses from the ANCHOR Unit, who have all signed up to be part of the collective effort. A 24-strong team has also been formed by staff from the Radiotherapy department in the ANCHOR Unit. The ‘Radiotherapy Radicals’ includes brachytherapy advanced practitioner Caroline Pacitti, who is a keen cyclist. She said: “This challenge came at the perfect moment for the team in Radiotherapy. We’ve been keen to do our bit for Friends of ANCHOR as the charity has been providing lovely nutritious lunches for the staff in the department, three days a week since early April. It’s been a strange a time for everyone to work through and those thoughtful touches have helped. It’s great to have a challenge to get us working together as a team, exercising and spending time outside – it’s a huge boost and we’re all really excited to be part of it.”
The youngest to be part of the appeal are the newborns being pushed along by their mums in the ‘Buggy Mammas’ running group – while Judy Alexander, who took part in the charity’s inaugural Courage on the Catwalk event in 2013, is thought to be among the eldest to take part, at the age of 89. Some who have signed up are taking part from home as they shield, using their gardens, hallways and stairs.
While the challenge officially began at the start of June, the charity is accepting new sign-ups throughout the month. Participants of all ages, abilities and fitness levels are invited to walk, run, cycle, skate or even scoot to reach their personal targets. To sign up, visit: https://friendsofanchor.org/index.php/events/going-the-distance
Throughout the pandemic, Friends of ANCHOR has funded direct support where it’s needed most, including 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.