Athlete plans charity run in hospice grounds

Athlete plans charity run in hospice grounds

14th September 2020


EVERYTHING in the garden will be rosy again for a fundraiser after COVID threatened his attempt to help a hospice.

Ben Bourne was elated when he secured a coveted place on the start line of the Great North Run.

But this turned to disappointment when the annual event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Never one to sit back, Ben now plans to run the equivalent distance of a half marathon in the grounds of St Teresa’s Hospice and donate the proceeds to the much-loved charity, where he is a senior practitioner, family support and bereavement worker.

But to complete ‘The Great North Woodlands Run’ the keen athlete will have to do 50 laps of the Darlington hospice gardens without the traditional backing of thousands of spectators who normally encourage competitors.

“I try to get a place most years but it is difficult,” said Ben, of Darlington. “I was so disappointed when it was cancelled, for me and the hospice which I was raising money for. Working there I full appreciate how much the charity relies on fundraising events which were all wiped out by COVID. It has been a real blow to the hospice.”

Based in Woodland Road, Darlington, St Teresa’s Hospice needs £3m a year to provide day, in-patient and community care, as well as family support and bereavement counselling, in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

When the pandemic struck an emergency appeal was launched to try and make up some of the shortfall and donations can still be made at  

Ben said: “Then we measured out a track in the lovely grounds and realised we could complete the distance in around 50 laps and still raise much-needed funds for St Teresa’s. I completed the Great North Run a few years ago and raised around £400 and would love to raise even more this year.”

Fortunately Ben has been keeping fit during the pandemic and is ready to rise to the challenge on September 13, the day the half marathon was due to take place.

“My office overlooks the grounds and they are lovely,” said Ben, who started volunteering at St Teresa’s 13 years ago before joining the Family Support Team as a member of staff.

“Being involved in the Great North Run is quite emotional and I’m not sure how it will feel without the crowds and only the trees and the birds for company. But it is a really nice space and close to our in-patient unit and any families staying there which will really spur me on.”

Since the pandemic started Ben has been working from home and has been using technology to stay in touch with patients and their families.

“That is something good to have come out of COVID; it has shown us how to master new technology and this is something we will take forward into the future, even when it is over,” he said.

“There have been some great levels of engagement thanks to video conferencing, allowing the Family Support Team to continue to deliver Bereavement, Carer and Wellbeing Support Groups at a time where face to face contact hasn't been possible.”

Chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice Jane Bradshaw said: “I’m in awe of people’s resourcefulness in adapting to the rigors of living through a pandemic and the support we have received has been astounding.

“We are thrilled to be hosting our very own Great North Woodlands Run and are so appreciative of Ben’s efforts.”

Anyone wanting to donate to Ben’s page can do so at

Ben will be cheered on during his run by a small group of invited guests. Anyone wishing to follow Ben’s progress can check in to at 10am on September 13 for live updates and videos. People are encouraged to use the hashtag #runthegrounds to send Ben messages of support.

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