As the nation came together to support our NHS heroes during the first six months of COVID-19, we were gratefully supported by community groups, businesses, supermarkets and individuals.
And thanks to generous donations from across the UK as well as the South Tees region, we were able to keep spirits high and bodies healthy for frontline health and care staff, and vulnerable people in our area.
Read through some of the inspiring stories from NHS staff, their families, friends and the general public.
Hot food, overnight packages and 18,000 Easter eggs!
With help from local and national businesses, we delivered over 40 food parcels every single day to The James Cook University Hospital, the Friarage Hospital and other community settings.
The boxes contained food, snacks, treats and refreshments, all of which helped support NHS staff in the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire.
Alongside this, overnight packages and toiletries were delivered, including hand and face creams, lips balms, deodorants, toothbrushes and shampoo; all making a difference to frontline staff as they battled through longer working hours.
While these might appear small and simple things, they’re the type of little extras that go a long way during an intense and stressful time.
Hot food was generously donated from local restaurants and takeaways, as well as from a Sikh temple and one lady who travelled from York every week for 12 weeks!
This meant staff were never going hungry or worrying about where their next meal was coming from.
Altogether, 134 different groups of people supported our charity, which culminated in 20,000 bottles of water being donated in just two days!
This was following an appeal on social media from someone in intensive care, for additional water supplies on top of provisions that the local NHS trust had already made.
We had also received over 18,000 Easter eggs, as well as scotch eggs from TRH The York Family.
In addition, iPads were both donated and bought, helping admitted patients to stay in touch with loved ones whilst in care.
Thanks to special fundraising from Tesco distribution centre and the public, we have been able to fund and kit out two wobble rooms to support staff wellbeing as they continue to tackle the pandemic.
With DIY haircuts an unexpected and unwanted side effect of lockdown, Jake McBride, chose the perfect moment to dye his hair blonde while raising funds for a special cause.
After some light-hearted jokes from family and friends, Jake got his mates involved by asking them to put their money where their mouths were; nominating them to dye their hair and raise even more money!
Over 100 people have took part in the challenge, with someone in Australia even getting in touch to say they’ve heard about the challenge!
Thanks to more than 500 donations, the group managed to raise an amazing £13,000, with the money split between South Tees Hospitals Charity and Brighterway; the charity for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Our next stories involve youngsters from across the region who have smashed their £100 fundraising targets.
Inspired by Captain Tom Moore, Noah, 5, and Jacob, 3, managed to walk a 33 metre long wall 100 times!
This was a real challenge for Jacob in particular, who has hyper mobility and a neurological condition, meaning he finds running, jumping, balancing and walking for extensive periods more difficult than other children.
The pair raised an incredible £915 thanks to their commitment and the generosity of family and friends.
Owen Swift aged 21, who lives in Coulby Newham has been under the care of the NHS since he was a baby and although he is now looked after by adult services he still holds the children’s ward at The James Cook University Hospital and the staff close to his heart.
At 10 months old his immune system started to attack his spinal cord, he was admitted to Middlesbrough General Hospital with collapsed lungs, it was after this he was diagnosed with the condition Transverse myelitis.
Transverse myelitis (TM) is an attack of inflammation (swelling) of the spinal cord.
It is caused by the body’s immune system becoming mis-programmed and activating immune cells to attack the healthy myelin covering the nerves in the spine which affects his mobility. His symptoms are so rare they affect one in a million.
Owen loves football and gaming so in the first lockdown he decided to ask people to sponsor him to wear one of his 100 plus football shirts where he would play in that teams colours, which helped him to raise £1,000.
“There were a few teams I wasn’t as keen to wear,” said Owen “But I think of the staff like family and I really wanted to help them as a way to say thank you for everything they have done for me.”
Freya, 6, and Immy, 4, both enjoy dressing up and wanted to have some fun while raising funds for those on the frontline.
The sisters combined their love of costumes with their love of walking, completing five lots of five kilometres in five different costumes!
Freya said: “I want to raise money for the NHS to help them stop the virus. I am missing seeing all my friends and family, this will keep us busy. I hope you are all staying safe. Thank you NHS for helping us!”
With their parents by their side they completed a total distance of 25 kilometres, raising more than £1100 for South Tees Hospitals Charity in the process.
Harry, 8, and Edward, 6, set their sights on riding 100 miles each to raise £100 for South Tees Hospitals Charity during the pandemic.
With a love of cycling, the boys put the wheels in motion by using their daily hour of exercise to clock the miles up.
The sponsored bike ride was thought up by Harry, who wanted to sponsor our NHS at this difficult time. As well as donations going towards welfare packs, the family wanted to help provide other health and wellbeing initiatives to boost staff morale.
In total, a huge £1,700 has been raised by over 100 supporters!
Over the course of five days, 11-year-old Emmy set herself the challenge of rowing the same distance as the English Channel, as well as cycling the same distance on her bike!
Inspired by Captain Tom and with the help of a rowing machine, she managed to row the 22 miles, followed by the same distance on two wheels.
Emmy raised just under £1200, with money going towards our local NHS hospitals and heroes in the South Tees region.
Hitting the saddle
With one of their coaches working on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, Richmond Triathlon Club wanted to do something extra special to raise funds for their local NHS trust.
Adults, coaches, juniors and parents, all came together to complete a 48 hour turbo relay.
The challenge involved members young and old hitting the saddle of their turbo trainers; combining to cycle for two consecutive days including the dreaded night shifts.
Donations came flooding in from friends, family and members, as well as other triathlon clubs from the North East and Yorkshire.
In total, a huge £4,195 thanks to over 200 supporters!
Delivering with a difference
In April, teams from Thirsk and Helmsley Royal Mail Delivery Offices were spreading cheer and positivity as they left their usual uniform at home and instead donned their best fancy dress for the day’s deliveries!
The usual work attire of red fleeces and coats were replaced by bunny rabbits, bananas in pyjamas, batman and plenty more.
The costumes brought a smile to people’s faces, as well as helping to raise vital funds at an important time.
Despite an initial target of £300, the team managed to raise an amazing £1,400 from colleagues, friends, family and residents.
Virtual running to Afghanistan
A team consisting of 30 members from the Babaji regiment completed a virtual run to where the Company’s name originates from in Afghanistan!
The 10 Days challenge to Babaji covered a huge total distance of 6,690km.
The challenge was ran in two phases between 1 September and 4 September, followed by 14 September to 19 September; the final day being the birthday of when the regiment was formed.
Over £2,000 has been raised by the team, with donations going towards the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, where funds are needed to update staff spaces, in particular the kitchen facilities and outdoor areas to support staff’s mental health and wellbeing.
A song for our NHS heroes
ICU nurse, Mika Mamon, works at The James Cook University Hospital.
But after contracting COVID-19 symptoms, she wrote a song paying homage to her colleagues and the experiences of working on the frontline during the pandemic.
The track sees contributions from musicians across the globe, including the UK, USA, Australia, Philippines, Poland and New Zealand. As well as the musicians, hundreds of people have posted their version of the chorus online, which have all been pieced together and included in the final version of the song.
Mika said: “The end refrain was made into a huge online choir by inviting people to post themselves on Mika’s social media singing ‘Hold On, Stand Together Apart’.
“They were all overlaid to create an uplifting crescendo.
“This is a first in lockdown – as far as we know – and hundreds of people contributed, again from all over the world. It took some time, but every voice is included on the track!”
The charity single Stand Together Apart is available on Mika’s Facebook page, Apple Music and Spotify.
All proceeds from the single will go towards Help for Health Heroes and supporting our NHS.
Capturing the crisis
As well as generous donations, it’s important we remember the commitments, efforts and sacrifices of our NHS heroes long after the pandemic is over.
Photographer and teaching fellow, Dr Matthew Jones, has captured a series of striking images showcasing some of the extraordinary work carried out by The James Cook University Hospital team.
Taken inside the hospital’s critical care department, the project documents the pressure, challenges, camaraderie and kindness shown by this incredible team in the most difficult times.
Matthew said: “When I was working in South Sudan as a doctor in 2018 I found that photography was a powerful way to help me understand the experience as it unfolded at such speed.
“It gave a means to pause and reflect and find answers, and continues to do so even now.
“I wanted to offer that simple resource to staff in intensive care at James Cook, so they could process events and move forward with a sense of what they had achieved. The atmosphere in the intensive care unit was amazing.
You sensed the strong bonds that existed between them all, a real spirit of care for each other’s welfare.
Alongside a dedicated website, a selection of photographs are on display in the hospital’s main atrium; the centre piece being a stunning photo montage called The Wall of Hidden Love.
A massive thank you
We simply can’t express our gratitude to all the people who have donated both their valuable time and money to support our NHS heroes during these difficult times.
From baking cakes and sponsored bike rides to quiz nights, online theatre performances and head shaves, we’ve seen everything take place in the name of the NHS.
Your generosity is inspiring and through the work of South Tees Hospitals Charity, we’ll make sure your kind donations continue to support our NHS during COVID-19 and beyond.
An additional thank you to the hundreds of others who haven’t been mentioned in this post, who have organised, fundraised and gone the extra mile for our charity.
These include staff, friends and family of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as the general public and community groups.
Donating and setting up a fundraising page
If you’d like to make a donation to South Tees Hospitals Charity, simply head to our fundraising page.
Selecting South Tees Hospitals Charity ensures donations will go directly to the charity.