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Senior staff duo's 50km Windsor challenge for Hillingdon rehab garden

Two senior members of staff at the Trust are undertaking a rather gruelling challenge for charity.

Chief operating officer Tina Benson and site manager Allison Jakeman are planning to walk 50km to help fundraise for the new rehabilitation garden at Hillingdon Hospital.

Work on the garden, which is being overseen by the Hillingdon Hospitals Charity, is set to start in the next couple of months and aims to promote patient wellbeing and enhance the experience for long-stay patients at the hospital.

Tina and Allison will be undertaking the trek around Windsor on Saturday, April 6, and the pair are hoping to raise at least £1,000 for their efforts.

"I've done this walk twice before, so I know how it feels," said Allison. "I know the pain of it, to be honest, but whether you've trained or not makes no difference, it's still painful!

"The first 25km is okay and because it's an organised event, they have adequate refreshment stops so you do get fed breakfast, there is lunch and then there is an evening meal.

"The first part is all around Windsor and it does the long walk as well so it's really nice. The second 25km does not have as nice scenery and it's a hard graft when you've already done the first part but it's certainly doable.

"You're held up by the number of people that are doing it for charities that they hold really dear to their heart so your momentum is kept up by the other people walking it with you."

The walk is all part of the Easter 50 Ultra Challenge which sees competitors cover either a 50km, 25km or 10km loop around the town and Thames path in aid of their chosen cause.

"This year we managed to get Hillingdon [Hospitals Charity] to become one of the nominated charities so it's really nice actually this year to be doing it for them," added Allison.

Around £150,000 is needed for the garden, which is being led by landscape architect and garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith.

Fundraising has surpassed £70,000 so far, with Tina and Allison almost at their £1,000 target (correct at time of writing).

Tina says the garden will provide a valuable resource for patients and their friends and families during their stay in hospital.

"We all know, if you can get outside for some fresh air, particularly as the spring and summer comes, how much better that makes you feel," she says.

"So for patients who are often with us for quite a number of weeks and then some cases months for our older adults and neuro rehab, I think that's going to make a huge difference to have some nice outdoor space that's accessible to them.

"They can have family visits out there, and have friends and relatives with them so it's going to make a massive difference. We've been very fortunate that the charity have secured a fantastic designer to support that so I'm sure it's not only going to be beneficial, but it's also going to look absolutely stunning."

If you want to sponsor Tina and Allison, you can do so on their JustGiving page.

"Every penny counts as they say and we know there is a cost of living crisis and actually these are difficult times for people," adds Tina. "And thinking about giving money to charity is probably going to be the last thing on many people's minds.

"There are some of us who can afford to do things but if you can't afford to give money to the charity or to sponsor us, then there are lots of things the charity does which you can get involved in to raise money.

"A lot of people giving £10 worth of their time makes a massive difference to the things the charity can do for the hospital."

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