Sue Ryder Nurses trek in Iceland to raise funds for families

In November last year, two nurses from Sue Ryder St John's Hospice in Bedfordshire 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 Nurses Jacqui and Dawn on their trek through Iceland
Sue Ryder Nurses, Jacqui and Dawn, on their fundraising trek through Iceland

From snow-topped mountains to volcanic landscapes

Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice Lead Nurse, Dawn, and Inpatient Unit Ward Manager, Jacqui, hiked through rugged landscapes, including mountains and valleys.

The November 2021 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 within that group to fundraise for St John’s Hospice, which included hospice volunteers and friends and family members of patients.

Raising more than £35,000

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 table top 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.

“The trek was a fantastic experience that will stay with me”

Dawn, from Offord D’Arcy, who has worked at St John’s Hospice for three-and-a-half years, recounted: “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.

“It was very cold, wet and windy – I wore three layers of thermal gear! The second day was the toughest. We started our trek up in the mountains by a geothermal station and hiked past a volcano. I knew there would be hills, but I hadn’t expected hills like this!”

A view of the Icelandic mountains and volcanic geysers
The stunning volcanic landscape of Iceland, where the intrepid trekkers journeyed

Inspired by the people we care for

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.

“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.”

Working with an amazing team

Dawn also paid tribute to her colleagues at St John’s Hospice.

“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 St John’s Hospice.”

Congratulations to our terrific trekkers

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.

“If you are inspired by their story, we are searching for other super supporters who can take on fundraising challenges for us. If you fancy an adventure, you can sign up for a Transylvania Winter Wilderness Trek in early 2023, which involves hiking in snowy forests and mountains. You don’t have to climb mountains – we also have plenty of other ideas and suggestions – big and small!”

Fundraise for Sue Ryder

Our hospice’s fundraising team would love to hear your ideas - you can reach us at stjohnsfundraising@sueryder.org, call us on 01767 642424 or find out more about the different challenge events you can get involved in.