NHS Heroes Named as Official Starters of Great South Run

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Two Nurses, a Physiotherapist and a Bereavement Counsellor have been named as the official starters of this year’s Great South Run in recognition of the efforts of all NHS staff during the pandemic.

Emergency Department Matrons Bethan Hutton and Emma Tomkinson, Bereavement Services Manager Karen Roberts, and Physiotherapist Lewis Hope, who work at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, will represent the heroic efforts of all health and care staff in the NHS’s fight against Covid-19 during the pandemic.

They are part of the Great South Thank You Campaign, that will pay tribute to ten inspirational individuals through a large-scale visual installation at the event, with the support of proud partner HSBC.

Chairman of the Great Run Company, Sir Brendan Foster said, “This year we’ll be welcoming runners back to the start-line after one of the most challenging experiences in living memory.

“I think I speak for the whole country when I say the heroic efforts of the National Health Service are something we should all pay tribute to.

“Historically, our starters have been public figures who have achieved great things in their chosen fields, but this year, there is no-one who deserves that honour more than the staff of the NHS, who worked so hard to care for our communities under such difficult circumstances.”

Bethan Hutton said, “Our emergency department cares for a large number of patients every day and due to the pandemic, we have had to find new ways of working with each other and providing care in challenging circumstances including wearing PPE.

“The safety of our patients and staff was paramount and while no day was ever the same, it’s amazing what we have been able to achieve as a team.”

Emma Tomkinson said, “Working during the pandemic has been incredibly challenging, but I’m really proud of the way we have come together as a team and risen to the challenge. It has been really busy throughout but the support we have had from our local communities has been amazing.”

During the pandemic, physiotherapist Lewis, who is also running on Sunday, was redeployed to the critical care unit to support critically ill patients with Covid. Many patients required intensive respiratory physiotherapy alongside care provided by other colleagues.

While the Bereavement Services team, which Karen is a part of, faced unique challenges and both she and her colleagues worked seven days a week throughout the pandemic to be there for each and every person who’s loved one had sadly passed away.

Karen is known for treating everyone she comes into contact with as an individual and a person as opposed to a number or statistic. Her kindness and compassion under incredibly difficult circumstances meant she was able to seek new ways to support family members, particularly when the country was in lockdown and they were unable to visit the hospital.

Penny Emerit, chief executive, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, said, “It is wonderful that the Great South Run is recognising the hard work of our NHS colleagues this year. They, alongside other keyworkers across the city, have worked tirelessly to support our local communities throughout the pandemic. It was difficult for us to identify just four people to represent the Trust as everyone has shown great dedication and determination throughout, but we are delighted to have been asked to take part.”

The Great South Thank You Campaign will also feature individuals from organisations including care homes, schools and supermarkets.

The ten-mile run takes runners past the Historic Dockyards and the incredible HMS Victory, finishing at the seafront.
The Great South Run will get underway on Saturday 16 October with the 5K and popular Junior and Mini events for kids, ahead of the main event on Sunday 17 October.