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Swansea Bay staff on the run in the name of charity

Half marathon

A team of health board staff hopes to lead by example in this year’s Swansea Bay Half Marathon – in the fundraising stakes.

Above: Victoria Williams, Eirian Evans, Lewis Bradley, James Murphy and Geraint Thomas

Ten staff members, from across our sites and services, have signed up for the 13.1 mile run with the promise of raising as much money for Swansea Bay Health Charity as possible.

Spanning the spectrum of age and experience the team will be recognisable through each wearing the charity’s distinctive purple T-shirts.

The health board’s official charity, which uses the generous donations received from patients, their families, staff and local communities to provide above and beyond what the NHS can provide, has registered the runners in the event in return for them promising to fundraise for the cause.

Although Eirian Evans, a nurse practitioner in Neath Port Talbot Hospital, is a seasoned triathlete he has had to overcome long Covid before being able to train again.

The 43-year-old said: “I had Covid in 2020 and was hospitalised in Morriston. I was later diagnosed with long Covid, which affected my memory and gave me joint pain in my feet and hands, but I’ve changed my diet and it seems to have helped.

“I couldn’t run after an ice cream van at the time, but I’ve been back training since April last year and train six times a week – swimming, cycling and running.

“Hopefully I can go under two hours and raise lots of money for a good cause.”

James Murphy, a member of the health board’s Health Care Systems Engineering team, is looking at using the challenge as motivation to keep fit.

He said: “I don’t really mind where any money I raise goes to within the health board, I just want to help the charity in general.

“It’s more of a motivational tool for me – to get me up and going. I’m reasonably self-motivated but I’m even more so when I have something to aim for and a race in mind.”

When it comes to setting a time the 40-year-old is determined to beat his last effort.

He said: “I enjoyed doing a half marathon a few years back but had a time in mind which I didn’t quite get. I’m determined to get it this year - under two hours - I was just over by two minutes.”

Victoria Williams, a trauma orthopaedic nurse practitioner, is still relatively new to running but has already beaten the two-hour barrier for the distance. 
The 31-year-old said: “I started running just before lockdown, entering my first half marathon in 2019. I really enjoy the training process, challenging myself and celebrating the reward of crossing the finish line. 
“I’d like to raise money for our MSK department continuing on from our efforts made during International Nurses day last year.  
“My personal best is one hour 57 minutes so I would like to get around one hour 55, challenge set.”

The oldest staff member, at 56, is communications officer Geraint Thomas.

He said: “I used to play rugby to a high standard but after retiring at 39 I took an extended break from any training before, around three years ago, deciding to hit the gym again purely for my health.

“Through entering this – and writing a blog on my experiences – I have to see it through. 

“I have never entered an organised run like this before but did do the distance in two-and-a-half hours a couple of years ago and hope to better that through training properly this time.”

Experienced triathlete and ironman, Lewis Bradley, the charity’s fundraising support manager, said: “We wanted to give the staff an opportunity to challenge themselves and to focus on their well-being during a time of rising costs and uncertainty. 

“It also gives staff an opportunity to fundraise for the health board charity, or even their own department. The charity not only relies on the public’s support, but also that of our staff as well. 

“It is also the 75th anniversary of the NHS, so this is a great way for the public and staff to say thank you.”

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