Eastwood GP completes crazy 250-mile run to help fund town's new 'community hub'

An Eastwood doctor has finished an epic 250-mile run – raising more than £1,000 for a community project which will help improve residents’ lives.

By Lucy Roberts
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:27 pm
Dr Nicole Atkinson completed the epic challenge to raise funds for the Durban House Community Hub project.
Dr Nicole Atkinson completed the epic challenge to raise funds for the Durban House Community Hub project.

Dr Nicole Atkinson, who works at Eastwood Primary Care Centre, completed the Thames Ring – a 250 mile non-stop run taking up to 100 hours – this month.

The event is certainly not for the faint hearted, with only a small number of women ever having completed it.

Participants must run, walk or stagger along the Thames path, Grand Union and Oxford Canals, taking in Goring, Henley, Richmond, Milton Keynes and Northampton as they circumnavigate the route.

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Nicole faced many struggles along the way, including freezing cold temperatures at night.

Nicole, who has been a GP and resident in Eastwood for 20 years, had a tough time when she completed the same run back in 2019 but was willing to brave it again to raise money for the Durban House Community Hub Project.

This time she had more luck on her side, despite still facing many hurdles along the way.

She said: “There was a particular section that I remember with horror –and I’m not easily scared.

“The temperature dropped and I was freezing.

The GP hopes the money raised will go to equipment to support a sensory room for children and people with dementia.

“Fog came down making it hard to see anything with the head torch and the canal path was dreadful.

“I really struggled to stay upbeat and by the time I hit Banbury, I was knackered from concentrating and very cold.”

Then at the 200-mile point, Nicole said the run got harder and the weather became too warm.

“It got too hot as day got warmer and I felt like I was melting,” she said.

“It felt really slow and the section to Lower Heyford seemed to go on forever.

“Not going to lie, during this point I had a good cry – I was tired, too hot and frankly the thought of night three freezing again seemed to tip me over the edge.

“Then I reminded myself why I was there and kept going.”

Nicole has raised almost £1,200 for the restoration of Eastwood’s historic Durban House, which she hopes will become the ‘heart of the town’ once complete.

Plans are underway to transform the building into a ‘community hub’, offering a dementia day care facility and other beneficial services for residents.

Nicole added: “There were periods of intense joy and happiness, as well as amazing support from the runners and the volunteers – much as I expect the community hub will provide for people locally.

“I am keen to support the growing group of residents and organisations committed to creating this new hub.

“The work to get it off the ground so far has been inspiring.

“It really is a local community endeavour and I feel very privileged to help out in any way, no matter how small.

“I hope the money raised will go to equipment to support a sensory room for children and people with dementia or learning difficulties. I know every penny will count.

“Hopefully this will be a lasting legacy for our local community to come together and truly do something exceptional.”

Nicole is also urging others to get involved and share their ideas on what they’d like to see the new Durban House Community Hub used for.

She added: “If anyone is interested in getting involved with the project or if local people have any thoughts on what they would like to see in the community hub, the trustees are keen to gain as much feedback as possible.”

To learn more about the transformation of Durban House and to offer your help or ideas, click here.

You can still donate to Nicole’s fundraising page here.

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