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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity

Luke and Lauren Celebrate 12 Months of Charity Challenges

Wednesday 07th February 2024

Two of our nurses taking on 12 challenges for their hospitals are celebrating the end of their incredible year of fundraising.

Lauren Baybutt and Luke O’Hara, who both work for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, have together raised more than £10,000 for our Charity. Whilst they each came up with their 12 challenges in 12 months plan seperately, they have since become friends and shared their experience of the huge tasks they had set themselves.

Luke, who is an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) coordinator, chose to support Wythenshawe Hospital where he works. He travelled up as far as Orkney and even into Europe to complete his challenge, like to Amsterdam where he was joined by Lauren. To maintain his fitness between each event, he has been running around 50km per week and with each event that passing, he noticed the recovery time became quicker. That said, things weren't always easier.

Luke said: “When I did Salisbury Marathon it was -4 degrees. My hair and eye lashes actually froze – my head was just one huge icicle. Even other people running the event and the crowd were taking pictures of me because I looked so strange. Lots of people were wearing jumpers and winter running gear, but I wanted to be consistent, so I was determined to still wear my Charity vest for it.”

Citing his highlight as the Orkney Marathon, he said, “I was soaked and I was only there and back in three-and-a-half days but it was such an adventure. The scenery was incredible and I was so glad I had the opportunity to go.

“It was a much smaller event than the others and I ended up coming third overall, so I got a trophy and some Orkney fudge. It was just such a real buzz and everyone was really nice.”

His 12th marathon was in Marrakech, at the end of January.

Luke said, “I wouldn’t go as far as saying it has been ‘life-changing’, but it’s certainly had a huge impact on my life. It’s been a positive thing to look forward to each month and I do worry there’ll be a sense of emptiness when it’s over. I might have to think of something else to set myself!”

Lauren is a Clinical Educator at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and she set herself a variety of walking and running challenges, which concluded on New Year's Eve.

Both Lauren and Luke took part in the Amsterdam Marathon together in October and were able to meet up before and after the event. Lauren said, “Luke is such a happy person and so easy to get on with so it was really nice we could meet up. We didn’t actually run the event together as I was with my friend who was doing her first ever marathon, but we did spend lots of time with Luke and it was really nice to get to know him.”

Lauren’s highlight was walking the Jurassic Coast – a four-day, 115-mile hike in August. Although it was both physically and mentally draining, carrying equipment and walking in temperatures of up to 26 degrees, she was so pleased to have achieved such an iconic hike.

She said, “I loved it for discovering new areas I’d never seen before and seeing such picturesque scenery. Me and one friend did the whole thing and then others joined us for part of the route. It was nice having their pick-me-ups when we were feeling tired. It was the hardest thing I’d done but definitely the most rewarding.”

Sadly Lauren’s last challenge – running 5K per day throughout December – was the thing she enjoyed the least and unfortunately an injury meant she couldn’t complete the challenge. Instead, she handed the reins to her boyfriend Harry, who completed the runs on her behalf.

“I pushed it a bit on the previous months but I went into December thinking it would be easy. So when I realised I was going to do myself a serious injury if I continued, the hardest part of it was actually admitting that and making the decision to stop.

“When the challenges started Harry always said he would take over if I was ever injured or needed a rest, so it was good he only had to do that in December. But I was definitely gutted to not finish like I’d wanted.”

Both Luke and Lauren have been a credit to their hospitals and were so thankful to have their support. Donna O'Reilly, Community Fundraising - Senior Manager at our Charity said, "Lauren and Luke are truly inspirational – not only do they look after patients and families and work in, what I am sure is, a very emotionally challenging role, they also gave up hundreds of hours in their spare time to take on these challenges. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done.”

Not satisfied with completing 12 marathons, Luke has added a final event to round things off – designing his own route around some of the Trust’s largest hospitals – and creating a bespoke marathon from Wythenshawe Hospital to North Manchester General Hospital and back. Taking place this month, he hopes to be joined by colleagues and friends for part of the route.

To sponsor Luke and support Wythenshawe Hospital visit his JustGiving page.

To sponsor Lauren and support Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital visit her JustGiving page.

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