Hospice nurses swapped their uniforms for warm jackets and hiking boots as they took on a wintry trek in Iceland to raise thousands of pounds towards the care they provide.
Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice Lead Nurse, Dawn Hawes, and Inpatient Unit Ward Manager, Jacqui Ackroyd, hiked through rugged landscapes, including mountains and valleys.
The trek saw Dawn and Jacqui walk across miles of snow-covered terrain, accompanied by a group of fellow Sue Ryder supporters.
The pair teamed up with five other adventurers to fundraise for Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, including hospice volunteers and friends and family members of patients.
Together they have raised more than £35,000 for the Moggerhanger hospice, which provides expert care for people with life-limiting conditions and also supports their loved ones.
They raised the money by organising a variety of activities ahead of the trek, including selling crafts and cakes, and arranging tabletop sales and a virtual race night.
Dawn and Jacqui were due to be joined on the trek by fellow Sue Ryder Nurse Viccy Cullip as well as Dawn’s friend Charlotte Hurst, who also contributed to the fundraising, but sadly they weren’t able to take part.
Dawn Hawes, from Offord D’Arcy, who has worked at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice for three-and-a-half years, said: “The trek was a fantastic experience that will stay with me. Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Everywhere you looked there was an incredible vista – from snow-topped mountains to volcanic landscapes of hardened lava.
“The trek was a challenge for everybody and it tested us all in different ways. Everyone was very supportive of each other. I am proud to have completed it – it made me realise I can do a lot more than I think I can.
Dawn, who works on the hospice’s specialist inpatient unit, said she was inspired to take on the fundraising challenge by the patients she cares for.
She said: “It is important to fundraise – it allows us to do what we do. Thank you to everyone who supported us, from my friend who made beautiful crafts to sell to the fantastic teams at my two local pubs, The Three Horseshoes in Graveley and The Bell in Great Paxton.
“I am inspired by my patients all the time. I see people go through the most difficult times of their lives, and I am in awe of how they keep pushing through their challenges – they never give up. This trek was to give something back and pay homage to them.”
Dawn also paid tribute to her colleagues at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice.
She said: “They are a great bunch of people to work alongside. They really strive to go above and beyond for patients and their loved ones, even in the toughest of times. In 2011, before I trained to be a nurse, my friend was cared for and died at the hospice. The care and respect that she received was incredible. I had already planned to be a nurse, but being part of that experience really inspired me. After my training, I worked as a district nurse for several years, but I always said I would come and work at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice.”
Ellie Burke, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, said: “Congratulations to Dawn and Jacqui and all our other terrific trekkers – Emma, Colin, Lorraine, Natalie and Alastair – for braving the snow, wind and rain to complete your incredible Iceland challenge. We are really proud of everything you have achieved, including your dedication to raising vital funds. The fantastic total of more than £35,000 will help to ensure the compassionate care you give can continue – making room for the things that matter to patients and filling their final days with love.
With figures showing every 4.5 minutes someone in the UK dies without the specialist end of life care they need, national healthcare charity Sue Ryder, which runs Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger, is asking people to back an appeal to help them be there for more families when it matters.
Donations to the appeal will enable Sue Ryder to deliver the expert and compassionate palliative care they are so well known for. Helping to manage symptoms as well as give advice on the practicalities, so that patients and their families can place their focus on filling their final days together with love.
For more information and to donate visit sueryder.org/careatchristmas