We’re delighted to introduce you to Ruth, a long-standing supporter of St Wilfrid’s, walker extraordinaire and founder of our Walk and Talk group!
Hi Ruth, can you tell us what inspired you to support St Wilfrid’s?
My mother was a patient at the Hospice for a year or so. She had a very nasty form of bone cancer and one day, unfortunately, her vertebrae snapped. After a year of going backward and forward to different departments at Southampton Hospital, we got a diagnosis and everything changed.
She was quite a private person, but I persuaded her to join the Hospice Open House for patients. I did have to bribe her and take her to the pub afterwards, but actually, she really appreciated and enjoyed attending the group.
In November 2009 she died at home just as Hospice at Home was launched, and I really appreciated the support they gave us. I decided in 2010 that I would start supporting the Hospice, as a way to do something positive and get over the grief, so that’s when I started fundraising.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you have supported the Hospice?
I started my fundraising with a double marathon in 2010; 52.4 miles in one go! I raised nearly £3000, and it was actually the best thing I could have done because concentrating on the fundraising and training kept my mind off things. I didn’t go to Safe Haven or any bereavement groups because they weren’t my cup of tea.
In January 2012, I trained as a Hospice Visitor, and I did that for about six years. During that time I also thought for somebody like me, it might be good to have something like a walk-and-talk group, so that’s what I started. I’m pleased to say that it’s still going in 2023. I have actually come back to the group as it needed a little bit of support after Covid. I’ve created a few new routes and it’s doing quite well.
I’ve also helped the volunteer team recruit new volunteers over the years, which I still do occasionally. This would involve going to speak to different groups about volunteering and canvassing at our shops.
During all this time, I fundraised most years.
I’ve done the Brighton Marathon twice and I have completed the London Marathon. I’m a walker who jogs a bit, I’m not a runner, I often stagger around the back with the people dressed as clowns, but I get there! I have also done a 40-mile walk. During Covid, I also took part in the Moonlight Walk Week and walked 100km.
In 2023, I was asked to help plan the new route for the 10-mile Moonlight Walk which has been challenging but rewarding and good fun.
Overall, I have raised over £11,000 for the Hospice which I am really proud of. In 2023 I have my 70th birthday coming up, so I have planned a little something in May.
It’s been very rewarding and I really like it here. I think one of the things I like the most is that everyone is equal and you always feel like part of the team.
What is your favourite thing you have done for the Hospice?
It’s difficult to choose really! The thing that I am most proud of is starting the walk and talk group, and seeing it help people, and that it’s still going now after all these years.
I’ve enjoyed helping at a lot of the events, like the Moonlight Walk, because I like the organisational side of things, and I like talking to people. Looking forward, I think I am going to be quite proud at the Moonlight Walk 2023 when everyone walks my new 10-mile route.
It might sound silly, but one of my highlights was handing out medals at a running event as Covid restrictions lifted, and I put a medal around a runner’s neck and the gentleman said how lovely it was, as during Covid you couldn’t even hand out medals to people. It’s the little things.