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‘It’s what I was born to do’ - the nurse who raised nearly £7,000 for Norfolk charities in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 July 2020

Banham Zoo June 2020 Melanie Sturman runner who has raised over £5300. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Banham Zoo June 2020 Melanie Sturman runner who has raised over £5300. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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A community nurse who lost her wedding to Covid-19 still raised £7,000 for charity

Melanie Sturman and her finance, Richard Furness. Melanie was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Melanie SturmanMelanie Sturman and her finance, Richard Furness. Melanie was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Melanie Sturman

Marathon runner, charity fundraiser, NHS worker - Melanie Sturman was born to help others.

And despite a difficult few months, working full-time as a keyworker, being forced to cancel her wedding and not being able to complete her 300th marathon, the 49-year-old still managed to raise nearly £7,000 for Norfolk charities.

Ms Sturman said: “I am a community-based nurse, working for Norfolk County Council and the NHS and I manage a team of occupational therapists.

“We get called to anything, people with obesity issues, palliative care, dementia and challenging behaviour and our role was really important, supporting complex discharges out of the hospitals.

VE day medals being given out to those taknig part in Thetford's virtual running challenge. Photo: Melanie SturmanVE day medals being given out to those taknig part in Thetford's virtual running challenge. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“We have had to change the way we work and it has been a really challenging time.

“But I am used to being busy, so when Parkrun had to stop, my marathons got cancelled and I was forced to postpone my wedding I thought, what can I do now and how can I help?

“I have always said, I was born to help other people and that’s what I love doing. I’m not one to sit and feel sorry for myself.”

As Parkrun coordinator in Thetford, Ms Sturman came up with an idea to keep people active, keep spirits high during lockdown and raise money for a good cause.

Nurse and marathon runner, Melanie Sturman, has raised nearly £7,000 throughout the pandemic after organising virtual running challenges. Photo: Melanie SturmanNurse and marathon runner, Melanie Sturman, has raised nearly £7,000 throughout the pandemic after organising virtual running challenges. Photo: Melanie Sturman

And on VE day, in May, she organised her first virtual running challenge, which saw 210 runners and walkers get involved from the safety of their homes and raised £1,300 for the Royal British Legion.

This was then followed by a 5km and 10km virtual running challenge, in June, on the weekend of what was supposed to be her 300th marathon, in a bid to support Norfolk’s struggling zoo’s, Africa Alive and Banham zoo.

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Ms Struman said: “I was on target to complete 52 marathons this year and reach my 300th.

Melanie Sturman is a nurse from Thetford who was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo: Melanie SturmanMelanie Sturman is a nurse from Thetford who was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“I said that is something I wanted to do before my 50th birthday and my wedding in August but then the pandemic began.

“Yes, I was gutted but in my line of work you completely understand why you have to do it.”

Despite not being able to reach her life-long goal or marry her fiancé, Richard Furness, Ms Sturman said was happy to be supporting the zoos she had grown up with.

She added: I adore animals and I couldn’t think of anything worse than the zoos closing so in two weeks we had 860 runners, walkers and cyclists sign up and we raised £5,350.

Nurse and marathon runner, Melanie Sturman, has raised nearly £7,000 throughout the pandemic after organising virtual running challenges. Photo: Melanie SturmanNurse and marathon runner, Melanie Sturman, has raised nearly £7,000 throughout the pandemic after organising virtual running challenges. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“After that I was invited to the trial opening at Banham Zoo, they were so appreciative and it was wonderful to see the animals.”

For every event, the Thetford marathon runner also personally designed and posted hundreds of medals to every person who took part and donated.

With two more virtual runs set to take place, one as part of Norfolk day celebrations from July 25, and another in support of the charity Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, Ms Sturman said she hopes to reach a total fundraising target of around £7,200.

“I’m hoping to raise £500 to give to Thetford and District Dementia Group from the Norfolk Day virtual run,” she said.

Melanie Sturman is a nurse from Thetford who was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo: Melanie SturmanMelanie Sturman is a nurse from Thetford who was set to complete her 300th marathon before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo: Melanie Sturman

“But the reason I want to help these charities is because they haven’t been able to fundraise themselves and for me as a care worker so many services had been reduced and we are reliant on signposting members of the public, loved ones and families to these charities.

“Where we can’t help everyone, we rely on the voluntary sector very much.

“Sitting down and being miserable will never change your circumstance and if you have the energy and drive to help other people you should. That’s what I feel I do best. I get so much reward from it.

“I just hope it will make a difference.”


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