News | 21 May 2021

Supporting those who support us

Emma De Maudave 800

Emma de Maudave

Head of Partnerships

Tags: Agency

Black and white headshots of the Distinction team

With our 20th birthday just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than by raising funds for Nottingham Hospitals Charity and give back to those that have given so much to us.

From 1 to 20 June, our team will be doing “20 things in 20 days” to hit a fundraising target of £2001, the year Distinction was founded. From shaking up 20 different cocktails in 20 days, to horse riding 20 miles in 20 days, to learning to count from 1-20 in Mandarin in 20 days (yes, really!), our team has free rein to do whatever they like to get the donations flooding in.

Selecting Nottingham Hospitals Charity as our chosen charity this year was a no-brainer for us. These past 16 months have been hard for everyone for one reason or another but none so more than our NHS workers. Watching the sacrifices they’ve made, their unwavering dedication, and sheer grit and determination to keep going when lives depended on them is something this country will never forget. We owe them a serious debt of gratitude.

The NHS is a national institution that anyone under the age of 70 has known since birth – growing up secure in the knowledge that if we fall ill, the NHS is there to catch us. So many of us are forever grateful for the care they or a loved one have received from the NHS. Some members of our team are willing to share their personal experiences and explain why Nottingham Hospitals Charity is so close to their hearts.

My story

Grid of four husband and wife selfies

Emma and Stephan.

My husband (Stephan) and I have been together for 11 years now, married for close to five of those. We spent the first two years of married life travelling, renovating our home and enjoying our 20s before they disappeared from us. When our late 20s hit we decided it was time to start a family.

Like many others we expected it to just happen straight away for us.

So we felt fortunate to fall pregnant four months in - a doctor’s blood test confirmed it - and we began excitedly throwing potential names around. Would it be a boy or girl, which room would we have the nursery in?

But then one day after work that all came crashing down. I knew something wasn’t right (but had nothing to compare it to) and all I could think to do was drive straight to my GP’s surgery. I turned up in a panic without an appointment and explained that I had recently found out I was pregnant but that I was sure something was wrong.

The receptionist was incredibly supportive and, even though it was late in the evening, managed to move some appointments around to get me in to see one of the doctors. I was swiftly referred to the Gynaecology Unit at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, where I was met by compassionate nurses and reception staff who explained what was happening with empathy and kindness. I was examined and had to return a few days after for monitoring – but sadly, we miscarried. We were devastated.

Fast forward another year and we fell pregnant again – sadly, this pregnancy also resulted in loss. Throughout both painful, heart-breaking experiences I was met with nothing but compassion and support by NHS staff who see this sadness day-in, day-out and still manage to make you feel you’re getting one-to-one care. Every nurse, doctor, and receptionist I encountered made me feel like they understood what I was going through, and they went out of their way to follow-up and offer the emotional support that, as a healthcare provider, they aren’t required to do. Since then (three years after we started trying) we’ve been in out and out of hospitals and doctors’ surgeries going through a vast array of fertility testing and are still on our journey to having a family. I can’t thank the NHS enough because I truly believe they’ll get us there one day.

For Distinction’s 20 Things in 20 Days fundraising campaign, I’ll be baking, decorating, and selling 20 unique cupcakes over 20 days.

Katherine’s story

Woman show jumping and cantering on her horse

Katherine and Charlie doing what they love best.

When I was little, I had a chest infection and we discovered I had a heart defect – basically my aorta was too narrow. If I hadn’t had that infection, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. Under the care of the NHS, I was referred to a specialist hospital and had two operations to repair the problem at the age of six. But it’s a condition that I will have to live with for the rest of my life and so the NHS provides me with ongoing lifetime care. I have regular scans, tests, and check-ups to make sure I’m healthy, and to flag up any issues to prevent future problems with my heart.

I’m enormously grateful for the continuous support I receive from the NHS and want others to benefit from the same level of care, which is what’s motivating me to raise funds for Nottingham Hospitals Charity. I’m a keen horse rider so will be riding my horse, Charlie, for 20 miles in 20 days as part of Distinction’s fundraising campaign. Without the care of the NHS, Charlie and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy what we love best – show jumping. We recently stepped up to jumping 90cm courses which is a big achievement for us both!

My NHS care team always works incredibly hard but seeing the unwavering dedication they’ve given to caring for our communities throughout the pandemic has really brought it home that this country would be lost without this life-giving institution. It’s inspired me to do anything I can to support them as they’ve always supported me. The monies raised will not only support NHS services and facilities but fund vital research too.

Henry's story

Smiling husband, wife and toddler in woolly hats

Henry and Katie with their son Elliot.

I had a benign brain tumour removed when I was 19. The NHS was able to fit me in within three weeks for brain surgery and I stayed in hospital for seven days. The staff were absolutely unreal in how they supported me through the evening and night before my surgery as, quite frankly, I was scared to death. I will never forget the empathy they showed me and the care they gave me then and in the days that followed my surgery. As well as looking after my physical recovery needs, they supported my mental wellbeing as I went through every range of emotion.

The care and surgery I received from the NHS undoubtedly saved my life, I’d probably be dead by now without them. And this is what’s motivating me to raise funds for Nottingham Hospitals Charity. I want others to receive the same level of care I did without waiting too long and I want NHS workers to have all the support and equipment needed for them to continue their amazing work in the best working conditions possible.

The 20 things in 20 days activity I’ve chosen is to use my son, Elliot, to exercise a different way every day. See photos of me bench pressing Elliot soon!

Upesh's story

Man cycing, selfie with best friend, with woman at event and selfie on Mount Snowdon

Upesh loving life.

In my teens, I wanted to be in the armed forces or the police force as I have family and friends serving but unfortunately my asthma meant an automatic no to joining. I’ve always been into running but when I started sixth form, I received some bad advice, which was to train in all weathers. And so I’d run or cycle the 2.5 miles to college come rain or shine, or snow for that matter!

One snowy day, a friend and I did our usual run to college. That afternoon I became acutely short of breath caused by inflammation of the throat and I was very, very cold which is a sign of onset hypothermia. I started wheezing heavily, had a severe headache, chest pain and muscular weakness. I was rushed to hospital in the evening where I was diagnosed with pneumonia with inflamed lungs which was partly viral due to low immunity.

I spent two weeks in hospital – the first in intensive care with limited visiting time for my parents as I was on oxygen and a ventilator. I was allowed home during the third week, but my inhaler dosage was high, so I wasn’t out of the woods yet. But I was recovering. The NHS made me better, they literally fixed me when I had just under an 18% chance of survival. I’m so glad I was rushed to hospital and taken such good care of, otherwise I would not be writing this now. My outlook on life has changed with this experience – it’s good to smile every day and be as happy as you can be.

So, I’m fundraising for Nottingham Hospitals Charity as I live in the East Midlands now, but the NHS in general across the country do an amazing job, let alone during a pandemic that nearly brought them to their knees. They care for us in our hour of need so we should care for them; giving them the funds to be able to care for the patients who depend on them, across all services.

I’m sticking with an exercise theme and will be doing 20 squats and 20 crunches every day for 20 days.

If you’d like to donate and show this national treasure how much we care about them, then please head over to our JustGiving page.

Thank you and wish us luck!

#Distinction20ThingsIn20Days