A healthcare worker went on the run and raised £500 from her first half marathon to help recovering stroke patients.
Michelle Awale, 50, completed the Mizuno Amsterdam Half Marathon to raise money for Well Wishers’ Hollybank House Rehabilitation Unit garden appeal.
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s charity is trying to raise £20,000 needed to transform the garden at Hollybank in Willenhall. With Michelle’s contribution, the appeal now stands at £12,000.
Mum of two Michelle is an Occupational Therapist at Hollybank and can sees how stroke patients will benefit from the proposed changes the garden will bring, especially after her own father suffered a stroke at the age of 56.
And charity is in the blood for her great uncle, Christopher Laws, was the Mayor of Wolverhampton and had a great passion for helping others.
These thoughts, coupled with a desire to improve her mental and physical health during the COVID-19 lockdown, led to her starting running – and the fundraiser was hatched.
“My eldest son, 27, is a physiotherapist and very sporty, he encouraged me to download the Couch 25k app during lockdown as I was struggling with all the sadness experienced on the wards,” said Michelle, who has worked for Walsall Healthcare for 12 years within the Community Stroke Team.
“When I completed the nine-week course, I was eager to carry on running for my own mental health and wellbeing.
“Over the last 15 months, I’ve built up my stamina and running ability and decided to enter the Amsterdam Half Marathon. I run three times weekly and average 10-11 miles each run day.
“My best friend Nelam Kumari, a Cardiothoracic Specialist Nurse at New Cross Hospital, is a keen runner and decided to take the challenge with me.
“Since my own father suffered a stroke and received excellent rehabilitation at West Park Hospital I’ve had a strong passion for stroke rehabilitation.
“From this I took a post as an Advanced Occupational Therapist working at Hollybank House on the in-patient ward.
“At Hollybank I’d raised awareness of how essential it was to allow patients to participate in a gardening club and to enjoy better facilities in the grounds to aid their rehabilitation journey.
“A proposal was put together and it was agreed a major revamp was required to include a sensory area and relaxed space for patients to enjoy with their families and friends.
“It was suggested as a team we come up with ideas of how to raise funds to support this. I’d already taken part in a charity football match with Walsall Lionesses and decided to run the half marathon.”
Michelle was backed all the way by colleagues at Walsall Healthcare and added: “I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by all the support I’ve been given, not just from fellow colleagues in the Stroke Team but also student nurses, patients, their families and my own friends and family, along with management from other departments.”
Despite suffering an ankle injury, Michelle completed the course in two hours 46 minutes, 20 seconds and afterwards revealed her inspiration.
“When I was struggling on my last few kilometres, the only thought that kept me going was to finish the run for the sake of the stroke patients and all those who supported me. It was epic,” said Michelle.
“We look forward to be able to enjoy a new garden together at Hollybank, hopefully ready at some point in the new year.”
Georgie Westley, Well Wishers’ Fundraising Manager, said: “We’re very grateful to Michelle for her fantastic run – well done!
“She will see the benefits of her efforts before her eyes as we continue the fundraising to hopefully get this work done in the new year, so our stroke rehabilitation patients can reap the benefits.”