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Community and mental health services for Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Running in a league of their own

Gerry Godden is a familiar face at St Mary’s hospital in Portsmouth. That’s because he has been an enthusiastic, ‘Meet and Greet’ volunteer for the League of Friends for over 20 years.

He recently turned 90 and although his celebrations were quieter than originally planned, he still managed to have a good time. His family and neighbours decorated the street with balloons and ensured that there was still lots of socially distanced fun for everyone celebrating. However, Gerry’s grandson, Matthew Payne, decided to further commemorate his grandfather’s birthday, by going one step further - literally.

In his blog he explains how he ran 90 miles to mark the occasion which enabled him to raise valuable funds for the League of Friends. The League of Friends have supported Solent NHS Trust services over the years. More recently, Jubilee House residents benefited from their support when they received some beautiful parasols and comfort chairs.

"My grandad thoroughly enjoys his time at the League of Friends and is still missing everyone involved and the people he would meet – it’s a big part of his life," Matthew said.

"As our family couldn't be with him over the past few months, I wanted to do something to show we cared and were still thinking of him during this really difficult and lonely period. I decided that with the hospital shop being closed I could raise some funds as a way of showing my support. It was also a gesture towards my wonderful grandad. I have only ever really done a small amount of running, which was mainly during my youth.

"However, in August last year, I started going to Parkrun and I also joined a local running club. Since then, I've trained a little with them and took part in my first competitive races, the last being the Great South Run in Portsmouth. I challenged myself to run 90 miles during the month of May as that was the age my grandad was turning this year. Coincidentally, 90 miles was roughly the distance for me to travel from my home to his and back again! So, all in all, everything came together nicely - although running 90 miles in a month was more than I'd ever done before!

"There were some really long and tough days plus doing it solo proved to be more difficult than expected, but raising money for the charity helped motivate me to keep going! In total I managed to raise £741.21 which I’m really proud of! It’s really pushed me to consider volunteering more in the future to support charities and local causes”

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