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Two Jamies set to walk 125 miles in support of cancer research

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Through their walk, these two friends are aiming to raise a considerable sum for Cancer Research UK in memory of a friend they lost to cancer.   

What initially began as two close friends taking a leisurely walk to escape their everyday routine has evolved into a meaningful endeavour to support the fight against cancer.

Jamie Sparrow, Senior Vice President – Commercial, EMENA at Accord Healthcare, and Jamie Durbidge, Owner & Managing Director of Perennial Pharma, will be undertaking a 5-day walking challenge to support The Luke Hart Foundation in raising funds for Cancer Research UK.

The two Jamies have been friends for more than 15 years and worked together at Mylan, now Viatris, where Jamie S served as Managing Director, while Jamie D held the position of Sales Director for some years.

During the COVID pandemic when everybody was stuck at home, the two friends, both early risers, used to spend hours in the mornings walking and talking over the phone, about anything and everything – work, life, family, the Pharmaceutical Industry, politics, sport, and about challenges that people were having during the lockdown.

After continuing this routine for several months, they eventually planned to transform their daily ritual into a “walking and talking” trip to reconnect, catch up on things, and enjoy some time together and with friends who wanted to join them.

As soon as the pandemic eased and restrictions were lifted, they started planning how and when to begin their expedition. Unfortunately, during this period, their dear friend Luke Hart, the former General Manager at Zentiva UK, lost his battle with cancer. Luke passed away in January 2023, following a nearly five-year battle with the disease. Devastated by the passing of their beloved friend and learning of the ambitions of both Luke and his family for the Luke Hart Foundation, the two Jamies resolved to do something meaningful in support of it. Set up by Luke’s family in his memory, the Foundation provides fundraising and support for several cancer charities, including Cancer Research UK.  The two Jamies “walking and talking” gathered more meaning and the two friends put an emphasis on arranging things.

The two Jamies are now preparing for their upcoming walking challenge in June ‘The Two Jamies Go Walking & Talking’ to help the Foundation raise funds for the largest UK cancer charity, Cancer Research UK.

They have taken the challenge to walk along an undulating stretch of the South West Coastal Path between Falmouth and Salcombe, covering approximately 125 miles in just five days, from Monday 24th to Friday 28th June.

The 25-mile-a-day walk they have to undertake is not just a mere stroll on flat ground. The journey entails navigating through some of the most challenging pathways and terrains along the captivating coastline. In an exclusive conversation with Pharmacy Business, the two Jamies explained that they opted for the walk to Salcombe because it held special significance for Luke.

“It was one of his favourite places, and the family visited after Luke’s passing in his memory and to scatter his ashes there,” they said.

It’s not going to be an easy walk, especially for Jamie S who is not a regular long-distance walker. “I think it’ll be less of a challenge for the other Jamie who is a lot fitter than I am. But I have committed to spending time over the next three or four months to undertake some significant training,” Jamie S said.

Though Jamie D commonly walks his dogs 5 to 10 miles and has, on a couple of occasions, covered over 22 miles a day, he hasn’t participated in any walking marathons before, so he agreed with Jamie S that they will need to get some practice in and train for ‘The Two Jamies Go Walking & Talking’ challenge.

To make themselves ready for the challenge, they also plan to do some long walks together at least a couple of weekends in the run-up to the 5-day walk.

Cancer Research UK is supporting them in their preparation and has provided them with some caps and T-shirts to wear whilst training.  They have also hosted and supported the creation of the funding page for any charitable donations – https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/the-two-jamies-go-walking-talking

The week’s walk will finish with their arrival in Salcombe on Friday evening, after which their families and the Hart family will get together for a long weekend.

Both of the Jamies families, and Luke’s, have been exceptionally supportive of their decision, helping with the planning and participating in their group chats about their plans.  During the week, their families will also be assisting and cheering them on throughout their journey.

Support from the pharmacy community they want

With over two decades of experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry, they hope to receive substantial donations from their colleagues and friends within the community.

“Luke was a highly regarded and esteemed figure in the industry, adored by all who knew him. His kind and authentic nature made him stand out as a truly exceptional individual. We are confident that many others in the industry share our sentiments about him. We sincerely appreciate the support and generosity of those who wish to make donations in his memory, as it will mean a great deal to both us and his family,” they said.

Their target is to raise £50,000 from this walking challenge for Cancer Research UK.

While it looks difficult to achieve, they hold the belief that “when the industry unites and backs initiatives, it excels tremendously.”

“We take immense pride in our work in the healthcare industry and the positive impact it has on patients and the healthcare system. Our utmost wish is for everyone to recognise and fully support the industry, as we are truly passionate about the tremendous value it provides,” Jamie S said.

Community Pharmacy Funding Gap SolutionsPharmacy plays a crucial role in patient care

How pharmacies can help fight cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, cancer survival rates have doubled over the past 40 years.

To improve the survival rates even further, Jamie D emphasised the need to increase awareness about cancer and early diagnosis. He was happy to see the growing awareness being generated about prostate cancer, urging men to undergo various tests early on and to proactively seek medical examinations.

“The sooner patients get diagnosed, the higher their chances of success can be. So, I believe awareness is paramount in this regard,” Jamie D noted.

On the role community pharmacists can play here, he said:

“Pharmacy plays a crucial role in patient care. Therefore, if a patient shows certain symptoms or suffers from an ailment, pharmacists should encourage them to get the appropriate testing and diagnosis. This will enable the identification of patients with the disease at an early stage when survival rates tend to be high. Pharmacists can support these patients in getting the right treatment.”

Jamie S added that pharmacists serve as the backbone of their local communities and possess the potential to provide excellent support to cancer patients in managing their symptoms arising from chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. Guiding cancer patients towards appropriate products that can complement their cancer treatment and aid in alleviating symptoms such as dry skin or dry mouth.

In addition to walking, Jamie D enjoys playing football on Sunday mornings and occasionally incorporates running into his routine to maintain fitness and overall health.

With a considerable amount of travel during the work week, Jamie S faces challenges in finding time to train. Nevertheless, he is committed to completing his training whenever he has spare time.

Another common thing that the two friends share is their love for golf, and that’s something they like to do when they get together, ideally in a much warmer location somewhere overseas.

During their walk, they are expected to be joined by many friends and family of those who knew Luke.

“Come and support us in any way you can” – That’s what they want from the public.

“Come and join us for a walk and a conversation. We believe it is essential for everyone’s wellbeing to take the time to understand what is happening in each other’s lives. This is the essence of our walk and the objective we are striving to achieve.”

The Jamies will be pushing their physical limits for a greater cause, demonstrating a commendable commitment to making a positive impact through their walk. Their initiative stands as a testament to the enduring power of friendship.

We wish them good luck and success!  

 

 

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