There are multiple benefits to taking part in regular exercise; increasing your heart rate releases endorphins to promote happiness, gives you an excuse to eat that extra biscuit (also likely to promote happiness) and increases your overall fitness level (I keep hoping...).
At Rowcroft our priority is to care for over 1800 adults over the age of 18 living with life-limiting illnesses across our local area every year. As well as providing care for patients, our staff also provide ongoing support to the families, friends and loved ones of the people we look after, offering a wealth of services to thousands more people who benefit from ongoing physical, psychological and spiritual support.
But as a hospice centred amongst a tight-knit, local community, we also have a responsibility to care for the neighbours, colleagues and friends of friends of our patients. Our hospice is very much a part of the community that we care for, and over the last few years we have made it our goal to engage them more so than ever.
Encouraging people to understand the extent of our services, and also know that the services and care we provide extends to them, as well as our patients, has been quite some challenge. One of the tools we have used to raise awareness of the hospice is the introduction of The Sleep Walk and Colour Rush.
Our annual night walk, The Sleep Walk, invites ladies to complete their choice of a five or ten mile route. Launched four years ago, the event has grown in popularity year on year and this year sold out within a month of registration opening. Together this year's walkers have already pledged to raise the maximum amount we've ever received, a figure that currently stands at £167,000.
Our second event, The Colour Rush, is a 5k paint run taking place in September. The Colour Rush sold out just over a month after launching earlier this year, testament to the strong work of our Events and Communications team, but also, I think, as a result of our commitment to hosting events that engage, inspire and unite the local community.
Our aim in establishing first The Sleep Walk then The Colour Rush was to provide our supporters with an achievable goal; a challenge that will fit into their lives without interfering with it, and a way to contribute to, and support the cause that might have helped their friend, sibling, aunt's neighbour or colleague's loved one.
A group of friends enjoying The Colour Rush 2013
Establishing the two events hasn't been easy, the planning that goes into staging just one event is immense, and the set up costs large; if anything goes wrong, the implications could be devastating.
But seeing over 2000 ladies come together for our Sleep Walk, and 1500 young people sign up for our Colour Rush has been incredible. Many of the people taking part sign up to remember somebody, others do so to catch up with friends, or even make new ones, and we have people travelling from across the country to join in. We are also now engaging with a very active social media community. We've been given the chance to communicate with supporters who vary hugely in age and circumstance, some of whom prefer Facebook, others who would rather use a fountain pen and paper.
Watching the local community we care about coming together on social media, emailing us to tell us about their training walks and runs, and then celebrating with us as they complete their challenges, has been so exciting for us at Rowcroft.
In future we would like to grow our events even further, maybe extend them to take place in other towns across South Devon (at the moment they are based in Torbay), and take on new, bright fun themes that continue to represent the hospice as a place of colour, vitality and life - which is truly the reality of what we are.
But for now, we are enjoying seeing people come together to enjoy one another's company, support us, and complete a personal challenge. As far as we're concerned, they've earned a whole packet of biscuits; and if they'd like to share them, I'll definitely provide the tea!
To find out more about the services provided by Rowcroft Hospice visit www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk.