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Meet Donna

Meet Donna, a nursing assistant at West Suffolk Hospital. She recently took up running during the coronavirus pandemic and is hoping to run the London half-marathon this year.


A running day is a good day for ‘supergran’ Donna. Originally with the housekeeping team, Donna became a nursing assistant, and a support worker with the Support to Go Home (SGTH) team, going into people’s houses to enable them to leave hospital and recover at home. When coronavirus struck Donna was among those told to shield at home. 

Donna soon found she really missed the company of colleagues and was feeling very fed up. Her SGTH job had involved a lot of driving and caused her to gain weight, and being stuck indoors did not help. Having put on a stone, Donna decided she must take action. Through a hypnotherapy app, she found herself in touch with others all over the country who support one another through Zoom meetings. 

“One of the group suggested I try running,” said Donna. “Now I was a person who would not run for a bus, I thought no, no, no! But drawing support from the others, I decided to give it a go.” 

Donna got herself a second-hand treadmill, planning to do a daily 10,000 steps. With her Zoom companions she shared an online coach who is a marathon runner, and set herself the target of couch to five kilometres. “I found that quite easy,” she said, “so I went on to 10k, and then it was suggested I try a half-marathon. As well as support from the online group, there is also a bit of competition which motivates you.” 

While Donna returned to work on F4 as a nursing assistant in the summer, the increase in cases means she now has to shield at her Bury home once more, but she is still training for the half-marathon. This is scheduled to take place in London in April, and means Donna would meet her online friends face to face. Like so many other events, she accepts it may be postponed, but is determined to carry on. 

“I wake up and look forward to my running, I really cannot recommend it enough,” said Donna. “When I started I was worried about my knees, and of course they did hurt at first because they weren’t used to it. But as you run you strengthen your knees – it’s in our makeup as human beings to be able to run.” 

As the oldest in her Zoom meetings, Donna told them all she was the ‘gran’ of the group. “But I ran the furthest, so they gave me the nickname ‘Supergran’,” laughs Donna. 

In the coming weeks we will be publishing more experiences of staff across WSFT who have been kind enough to share the stories of what they have done to improve their quality of life in the past year – the ideas and inspirations that helped them change for the better.