Eastwood GP set for epic running challenge to help fund town's new 'community hub'

An Eastwood doctor is set to take on a crazy 250-mile run to raise money for a community project which will help improve residents’ lives.

By Lucy Roberts
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 4:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 4:14 pm
Dr Nicole Atkinson is taking on an epic challenge to raise funds for the Durban House Community Hub project.
Dr Nicole Atkinson is taking on an epic challenge to raise funds for the Durban House Community Hub project.

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

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 had a tough time when she completed the same run back in 2019 but is willing to brave it again for a good cause.

Nicole, who has been a GP and resident in Eastwood for 20 years, said: “I completed the same run in 2019 in 98 hours, during which I faced periods of extreme exhaustion, sickness, blisters, heat stroke, being bitten by a dog and severe hallucinations.

“There is only one indoor check point on the course, so we are outdoors and exposed to the elements for nearly all of the time.”

The doctor is willing to embark on the gruelling run once again to raise funds 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: “I’m going back because along with the tough times, 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 try and help out in any way, no matter how small. 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 hoping to raise £1,000 to help bring the project to life after it was recently recognised as a registered charity.

She 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 donate to Nicole’s fundraising page here.