Julie Buckley was all geared up to run her third London Marathon for Saint Francis Hospice in April 2020, until it was rearranged for October. But that didn’t stop her.
On the weekend the Marathon was due to take place, Julie took centre stage on her driveway. At 7am, she strode onto her treadmill, adorned with the Hospice’s famous orange balloons, to take her first step of over 50,000.
Julie revealed how the crowds at the London Marathon are what gets her through. She admitted that the thought of running 26.2 miles alone filled her with dread. Julie, who is used to patrolling the streets of Brentwood and Epping in her role as a Police Community Support Officer for Essex police, had forebodings about the lack of change in scenery. Yet Julie was in for a pleasant surprise.
‘In the six and a half hours it took to complete, I was never on my own,’ she recalled. ‘I was either on FaceTime to family and friends, or neighbours were hanging out of their windows, cheering me on.’
Julie has been a prolific fundraiser for Saint Francis Hospice since the team cared for her mum. Monica Donegan relished visiting the Hospice’s social hub, Pemberton Place, after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Every week, a volunteer driver would collect Monica from her home in Brentwood, and she would enjoy creative therapy sessions at the Hospice. ‘We would have been lost without the Hospice,’ Julie said.
‘Mum was a primary school teacher, and ever so bright, but the amount of medication the hospital asked her to take was overwhelming. She became anxious and upset about what to take and when, as we all did.’
The Hospice’s community nurses drew up a clear plan for Monica. ‘Katy gave Mum the confidence to be able to manage her medication by herself,’ Julie remembered. After Monica passed away on her 75th birthday, the Hospice’s Family Support team helped Julie and her children with their grief.
‘Saint Francis Hospice is a massive part of our community,’ Julie declared. ‘The thought of the Hospice not being here spurred me on.’ Julie has some simple advice for anyone who is stuck for ideas on how to fundraise while self-isolating: ‘Think of what you’d usually do, and tweak it.’ As for October’s Marathon, Julie has promised: ‘I’ll be there.’
Thank you and good luck, Julie.
You can help ensure that Saint Francis Hospice nurses are always there for people just like Monica by supporting them for as little as £3 a month. You can find out more about how you can make a difference to the lives of people living with life-limiting illnesses here.