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30-Day Fitness Feat for the NHS

GB Lubricants staff have tackled two marathons a day for thirty days to raise money for the NHS in memory of their colleague John Mackenzie, who passed away with COVID-19 earlier this year.

GB Lubricants staff have completed a 30-day fitness challenge to raise money for the NHS. 

Organised in memory of their former colleague John Mackenzie, who passed away with COVID-19 earlier this year, the team covered the equivalent of two marathons a day by walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, running and even unicycling.

Their efforts have raised almost three times their target of £500, and the JustGiving fundraising page set up for donations featured in the top 5% of the platform’s most successful fundraisers during September. 

The money raised will be donated to the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity on behalf of John’s family to help fund pioneering research and provide state of the art medical equipment and care.

“All he ever wanted to do was be of some help to anyone who needed it,” says John’s brother, Neil. 

“He expected nothing in return, and my mother and I are very happy to hear about the fundraising in his name.”  

Before taking a reluctant retirement in 2019, John celebrated his fiftieth year at GB Lubricants, many of which were spent as a sales rep, often building relationships with customers who were the children, and in some cases the grandchildren, of his original customers.

“That’s special isn’t it,” says Managing Director Paul Booth who believes John was a respected friend and colleague to so many because of his dedication to the job, sense of humour and ability to tell a story.

“He was a lovely man and genuine bloke. The challenge was a chance for us to honour him, and the fact we were able to turn it into a fundraiser for a charity chosen by John’s family gave everyone who participated a boost.”

The company’s initial pledge to cover a 1310km route from Land’s End to John O’Groats was a nod to John’s travels around the country during his time as a sales rep, and his love of Scotland. The team’s progress was tracked on a map and weekly updates were shared so staff could see how much further they had to travel. 

With seven days to go before the thirty days were complete, the team were so close to reaching John O’Groats that Paul decided a “bonus” challenge was needed. The journey was extended with a 611km homecoming to the GB Lubricants Gateshead headquarters – via John's favourite pub.

“I had faith in the team,” explains Paul, who ran, cycled and kayaked his “hardest 4km” over the course of the challenge.

“I see their spirit and willingness to meet targets day in and day out in what we do, so to get back to Gateshead rounded that off nicely.”

The team didn’t stop there. From Gateshead they carried on towards Dover, crossed the Channel and finished in the coastal city of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. This additional 622km pushed the team’s total distance travelled to 2543km – more than 1000km further than they set out to do.

The fitness challenge was a first of its kind for GB Lubricants, and the team didn’t let adverse conditions slow their progress.

“I’ve been out in the rain, some days it poured the whole time so I was soaked when I got back,” says Sales Administrator Rachel Watson, who along with fellow colleague Teri Ross helped coordinate the event. 

“It was good to push it a little bit further, to try and go as far as we can. I feel very proud of how everyone has done.”

Contributing 8km a day during his commute to work on foot, Finance Manager Tim Berkeley also took time out of his weekend to explore the local area on his bike, often with a bit of off-roading.  

“It’s a nice ride out to the coast from where I live,” explains Tim. “I cycled to Whitley Bay, I think it’s about 12-13 miles to get there, and the same back. I think John would have been quite amused by the whole thing. Everybody doing all this extra fitness in his memory.”

Sales representative Kevin Clark also embraced the challenge, contributing approximately 90km by walking and cycling, and a further 0.51km on a unicycle.

"A colleague loaned me her son's unicycle and I finally got around to practicing this summer,” says Kevin. “Unfortunately I’ve not mastered how to turn around yet so I'm only going in straight lines.”

Teri Bayliss, charity director for Newcastle Hospitals Charity, says it’s an honour to be supported by GB Lubricants and promises that every penny raised will be spent locally and will make a positive difference to patients, staff and communities.

“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone for taking part,” says Teri. 

“Our colleagues from across the Trust have gone above and beyond in caring for patients, as they always do, through the COVID-19 pandemic and we are so proud that they were able to make a difference to John and his family in these difficult times. We would all like to express our sincere condolences to John’s friends and family, you are very much in our thoughts.”

If you’d like to donate, please visit the GB Lubricants fundraising page, here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gb-lubricants

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