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‘Calendar lads’ set for new challenge

Some of the Wansbeck A&E calendar lads taking part in the challenge, from left, Ben Swinney, Craig Leathard, Paul Robinson and Simon Bickmore.

Some of the Wansbeck A&E calendar lads taking part in the challenge, from left, Ben Swinney, Craig Leathard, Paul Robinson and Simon Bickmore.

A team of male A&E staff who bared all for a naked charity calendar last year are preparing for their next fundraising challenge.

The group, known as the ‘A&E Calendar Lads’ following the success of their photographic posing to raise awareness of testicular cancer, will walk 120 miles in aid of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Bright charity and the NSPCC.

They will leave the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle on Monday, September 1, and are due to arrive at Wansbeck General Hospital on Thursday, September 4, stopping off at Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital and Hexham and North Tyneside general hospitals along the way.

The ten-strong team, including domestic staff, healthcare assistants, senior nurses, doctors and A&E consultants, will tackle some of the area’s roughest and wildest terrains and be camping out overnight.

Craig Leathard, charge nurse at Wansbeck General Hospital, who lives in Ashington, was the driving force behind the calendar and is leading next month’s walk.

He said: “We all had a lot of fun doing the charity calendar last year but there was a serious message to it - raising awareness of testicular cancer and encouraging men of all ages to check themselves.

“This year we wanted to do something different and as we’re all up for a physical challenge thought a walk covering as much as our patch as possible would be a good idea.

“As increasingly we’re working more closely with our colleagues in North Cumbria, we thought it would be fitting to start in Carlisle.

“Again, the campaign has an important purpose. Working in A&E we see many children and families who are going through exceptionally hard times and need a little help, and we hope our walk will go some way to supporting them.”

The money raised will be split between Bright and the NSPCC.

To date the group has raised more than £900 for the walk. To sponsor them visit www.justgiving.com/CalendarLads/

Brenda Longstaff, charity and volunteer senior lead officer at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “The naked calendar was a real talking point around the trust and we would like to congratulate them all for their dedication and enthusiasm and thank them for taking on another challenge.

“The aim of Bright is to ensure patients of all ages have the best experience possible during their stay in hospital and children are some of our most vulnerable patients.

“We wish the lads all the best and look forward to welcoming them to our sites along the way.”

Nihad Cehic, NSPCC community fundraising manager for the north east, said: “I would like to thank the A&E lads for setting themselves this fantastic challenge to raise funds for the NSPCC.

“The vast majority of our funding comes from activities like this so their efforts really will make a difference.

“Our services help and protect vulnerable children, young people and their families here in the north east and across the UK and we couldn’t continue without fund-raisers’ support. We wish the team the very best of luck for their walk.”

Keep up to date with the group on twitter @calendarlads and on Facebook ‘Calendar lads challenge 2014’.

Last year’s calendar raised more than £4,000 for Bright and male cancer charity Orchid.

As it works towards acquisition, Northumbria Healthcare is working closely with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, to deliver improvements as part of an official ‘buddy’ arrangement.

The calendar lads prepared for the challenge with a high-intensity work out with the Newcastle Eagles at Speedflex Newcastle in Jesmond.

 

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