Dunstan Harris is running in the London Marathon this Sunday in memory of his grandmother, Theresa. When choosing which charity to run for he said the decision was easy. His grandmother had spent the final week of her life in the Martlets inpatient unit. Dunstan is running to say thank you to our team for care his grandmother received.
Theresa spent some time at a local hospital before coming to Martlets in June 2020. This was an extremely challenging time for Theresa and the family as was all happening during the height of the pandemic. However, Martlets’ staff helped put the family and Theresa at ease. Dunstan tells us about the care his grandmother received and why he is running the marathon for Martlets.
‘Omi radiated happiness’
Theresa would often use the word ‘paradise’ to describe her life. Despite having a tough early life as she lost her mother young and so had to look after her three younger sisters. Then later on, the family had to flee to Austria for safety. Nevertheless, Theresa loved life and knew how to choose to be happy.
In her late 70s she took a trip to Spain with her partner. Their car broke down so they hitch hiked a lift with a lorry driver. After laughing and joking with the driver he said this about the pair. “If they could sell their secrets, they’d be millionaires,” but she replied saying “Millionaires could not be happier than they were.”
“Omi radiated happiness and warmth at all times. She was a very beautiful lady, who was often stopped in the street even in her 90s by strangers commenting on her looks.”
Theresa, Omi, as she was known to her grandchildren, was an incredible woman who touched everyone she met.
Omi’s time at Martlets
Dunstan’s grandmother spent the last week of her life at Martlets. She was moved there in June 2020. This was a difficult time during the pandemic but Dunstan’s family were blown away by the care Theresa received.
“Martlets took a different approach, we just wish she could have spent more time there. The staff were very kind, respectful and attentive. They always made sure my grandmother was comfortable and well looked after.”
“In a very difficult period, during the height of the pandemic, the staff remained calm, they let my mother and my aunt and uncle visit on separate occasions within the strict visiting rules at the time. The staff were friendly and welcoming. We all very much appreciated the importance of their work.”
Dunstan’s aunt, Bianca spent the last few days and nights with Theresa. She was very touched by the care that was given during this difficult time.
“I want to say thank you to the staff and let them know how grateful we all are to them. Thank you for all that they did for my grandmother and for all they continue to do for so many people.”
Signing up for the Marathon
Dunstan works as a Business Development Manager and lives with his family. He enjoys sport and keeping active but has never done a challenge like this before. He regularly goes running but has never run further than 9 km.
“One day I returned home from a run and made the decision there and then. I was going to sign up to run the London Marathon so I immediately went on the website and applied. I spoke to Sam in the fundraising team and within a day I had a confirmed place. It all happened very quickly.”
Dunstan has never done any long-distance training before so he had to prepare for tough few of months training. However, he was excited for the challenge and it was something he was very motivated to do.
“I am excited as I have always wanted to run in the London Marathon and now is the time. I’m looking forward to being able to say that I have done it and experienced the cheering of the crowd. I grew up in London so this has always been a goal of mine and I know it will be a huge personal accomplishment.”
Preparing for the run
Dunstan describes training he has done preparing for the marathon as ‘quite tough’ but of course it is all worth it.
“On Sunday mornings I have to push myself. It would be all too easy to stay in bed a little longer, but I know I have a 2 hour run ahead of me to complete. That said however, there is no better feeling when you finish a run and you know you are one step closer to the end goal. I am loving the challenge.”
He has been following a marathon training plan which he got from the London Marathon website. This has helped Dunstan know what he is doing and track his progress.
“The fundraising has been going well, I hit my target within a couple of weeks, thanks to the wonderful help of family and friends getting me over the line! Now it is for me to get myself over the finish line!”
“I am so grateful to everyone for their generosity. Thank you for helping me support Martlets and raise funds in memory of my wonderful grandmother.”
If you would like to support Dunstan in doing the London Marathon, you can donate through his Just Giving page.
Find out more about running a marathon for Martlets. You can register your interest for upcoming events.