Sue Ryder Nurse takes on double fundraising challenge to mark her 40th birthday

Nurse Hannah Wilson is marking her 40th birthday by taking on not just one, but two tough fundraising challenges to raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice. Hannah, who celebrated her birthday in April, took the plunge in the Great North Swim in June and plans to follow that by competing in the 40th Great North Run in September.

Hannah, wearing some number '40' glasses
Hannah is taking on a double fundraising challenge for Sue Ryder

Hannah, a Community Palliative Care Nurse Specialist (CNS) at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds, took part in the one-mile Great North Swim at Lake Windermere on Saturday, June 12, along with her Sue Ryder colleague Julie Marshall Pallister and friend Kelly Scotney.

She said: “I try and exercise regularly, but I’m not exactly sporty and to be honest I was totally winging it with the swimming! I’ve only swum a few times this year, but I just wanted to get round and raise money for Wheatfields.

“I’ve never done the Great North Swim before. We had planned to do it last year, but obviously that was postponed. Then I really got into open water swimming over lockdown.”

Hannah and Julie swam their mile together and have already raised more than £1,600 for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice. Hannah said: ‘The weather was perfect, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and having our friends and family there supporting us was great. The atmosphere was so positive, I think it will have been a first event post-lockdown for many people - it certainly was for us, which made it so special.

“The event organisation was brilliant. There was a lot of support out on the water for anyone who needed it. The water itself was choppier than we expected, but was surprisingly not cold, and the views when we were out there in the lake were absolutely incredible. We are very proud of ourselves, and each other!”

Hannah and her team holding their Great North Run medals

In three months’ time Hannah will also be part of a team of Wheatfields staff taking on the Great North Run on September 12. The mother-of-two started running after she had her children, now aged nine and 11.

Hannah said: “I turned 40 this year and it’s the 40th year of the Great North Run, so it seemed fitting. This will be the third time I have done the Great North Run. I run every week but I have done a lot less over lockdown, so this will probably be my slowest time. This one has also rolled over from last year and there is a ‘multi-disciplinary’ team of us from Wheatfields who planned to do it then. I’m also running with my friend Ben Hanley. I need to up my game and start training!”

For Hannah, who has been part of the Wheatfields community team for six years supporting patients with life-limiting illnesses in their homes in south Leeds, it is a cause close to her heart.

“My first experience in palliative care was as a student nurse, in 2004. I knew then that it was an area that I was passionate about. Since qualifying, I have worked in cancer care and palliative care for 15 years and I think all my previous experience was leading up to this role at Wheatfields. I love being a community CNS, it is such a privileged and rewarding role, supporting individuals and their families facing a life-limiting illness. 

“The last year has been very challenging , and has felt incredibly busy at times, caring for individuals in the community. Those that we care for have faced difficulties as a result of the pandemic, in addition to dealing with their illnesses. We have not limited our input at all, and have continued to work alongside district nurses, ensuring that patients receive a high standard of care at home. In addition, the home-working has meant that it’s been quite lonely and it has also been very emotional at times.

“I do a lot of fundraising, predominantly for Wheatfields, but sometimes for other charities who support people with the kinds of conditions we help with – Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease , Pulmonary Fibrosis. I want to support Wheatfields because I work there and I know how important it is, but I always find people are exceptionally generous because they really care about Wheatfields, too.”

Find more information about Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

Support Hannah's fundraising challenge

Hannah took on the Great North Swim in June and will race in the 40th Great North Run in September. You can help her raise vital funds for Sue Ryder by donating today.