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Q&A: Teacher turns athlete for ICU charity

Q&A: Teacher turns athlete for ICU charity

Saturday 23 May 2020

Q&A: Teacher turns athlete for ICU charity


A local teacher, who has never considered herself a runner, has laced up her trainers to do a 5k every day this month to raise money for a new charity helping critical care survivors adjust to life at home after they’re discharged.

After Jersey’s schools shut their doors before lockdown, Plat Douet teacher Sarah Cardwell wanted to do her bit to support the Health service and she decided she’d set herself a physically intensive challenge spanning the whole month of May.

Thus, ‘5k every day in May’ was born and Sarah has surpassed her original target of raising £1,000 for Jersey Critical Care Survivors, a new charity set up by Hospital intensive care nurses which looks after the wellbeing of former ICU patients adjust to being discharged.

Now, Sarah has set her sights on raising £1,510 which would mean she can donate £10 for every kilometre she's run during the month of May. 

Express caught up with Sarah about catching the “running bug”, the support she’s had so far and the cause at the heart of her daily fitness challenge...

Why did you want to raise funds for this particular charity during this difficult time?

As a teacher, we knew that this was a scary time, however, once the schools had no choice but to close to majority of children it was then that I realised this virus was a lot more serious than everyone first thought. I decided I wanted to do my bit to help in any way that I could.

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Pictured: "Cnce the schools had no choice but to close... it was then that I realised this virus was a lot more serious than everyone first thought."

[Jersey Critical Care Survivors] is an incredible charity who look after patients who have spent time critically ill in ICU and moved from ICU to ward to home, however once home they can end up with a lot of emotional and mental difficulties including anxiety, worry and stress. With thanks to this charity, they can now meet up with the ICU sisters in a clinic who are there to talk to them and help to refer them onto other professionals as well as getting lots of their questions answered. In this covid-19 time, patients need support with their mental and emotional wellbeing more than ever. It allows patients who have spent time in ICU a chance to express all of their worries and anxieties in a safe environment and an opportunity to talk about their time in ICU. 

What has the response has been like in terms of support and donations?

I cannot thank everyone enough for their kind words and amazing donations it really means so, so much to me. My family have been incredible and my husband, Richard has been running most days with me to keep me going.

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Pictured: Sarah says her husband, Richard, has been her biggest cheerleader.

Even on bad days when everything hurts or I am in tears and I don't think I can continue; he's there cheering me on, helping me get to the finish line of the day. It has also been lovely as friends have offered to run at a two-metre distance to support me too, which has been really nice. 

How has this challenged you physically and personally?

So, I am not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, but that's what I thought made it a good challenge. It has certainly challenged me in many ways both physically and mentally.

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Pictured: Sarah says that this has challenged her in many ways "both physically and mentally."

Some days are easier than others, I have had blisters, many aches, pains and even cried at times as I didn't believe I could finish a 5k, it has helped my mental/emotional wellbeing in this crazy time enormously. When I think of why I am doing it and how so many people have suffered so much more than just a blister or an ache it really helps me focus and stay motivated.

What advice would you give to someone who isn’t a runner but is thinking about challenging themselves to start?

Do it! I can honestly say as a non-runner, I have genuinely really enjoyed this more than I ever thought I would. It started off just as a challenge and it is now becoming part of me, and I will definitely continue after the end of the month. My advice to anyone who is thinking about starting to run or setting themselves a challenge like this is don't put pressure on yourself; if you have to walk, walk, if you have to stop, stop, if you cry, you cry it's ok. It’s not easy (that's the whole point of challenging yourself) and you will have bad days, but you can do it and you will honestly feel so, so much better once you have done it, I promise. Just getting out and going for a run in the fresh air has truly done so much for me both physically but more so mentally and I honestly never thought that running would make such a massive difference to my life.

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