Wigan hospital workers complete gruelling Lakeland challenge for healthcare in Malawi

The WWL team taking part in the Trans-Cumbrian Challenge
The WWL team taking part in the Trans-Cumbrian Challenge

Robust Wigan hospital workers raised £8,500 for orthopaedic patients and surgeons in Malawi by taking on a gruelling Lakeland challenge

The 19-strong team of surgeons, physiotherapists, anaesthetists, advanced practitioners and theatre nurses from Wrightington Hospital took part in the Trans-Cumbrian Challenge, pushing themselves through a bike ride, hike, and paddle challenge over three days.

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The day started in Whitehaven and finished with a full day hike up Helvellyn and included cycling over Honister Pass and canoeing across Ullswater.

Henry Wynn Jones, a clinical fellow for orthopaedics at Wrightington, said; “We have done this challenge from Wrightington for six years, fund-raising to purchase and ship implants and equipment to enable patients with severe injuries to be treated.

“We set off from Wrightington at 6am and departed to Whitehaven.

“After dipping our wheels in the North Sea we pedalled off towards Honister Pass, completing the Ferrata Xtreme. This was probably the most psychologically challenging section for many of the team, most of whom had never been climbing and some had quite severe fear of heights - much to the amusement of some of us!”

The following day the team cycled to the base of Helvellyn, before hiking over the mountain, down Striding Edge to Glenridding at the end of Ullswater.

The final part of the challenge saw the team canoe the length of Ullswater.

Henry added: “This was a completely new sport to most of us - very evident by the zig zag route we took along the lake!

“However, all in all the event was a great success. Many of us tried new challenges, or faced fears, and in the process we raised £8,500 for an extremely worthwhile cause.

“We estimate the funds raised will enable 600 patients to be treated, and at the same time trainee surgeons will learn the techniques they need to treat patients in future.

Dr Bates, orthopaedic surgeon in Blantyre, Malawi, said: “Since 2013 we have been assisted by the North West Orthopaedic Trauma Alliance for Africa (formerly the Implant Fund).

“They buy our implants for us so that we can continue to provide appropriate surgical care for our orthopaedic trauma patients, fixing fractures so that patients heal well and can get back to their daily lives.

"It is hard to describe the gratitude of patients who manage to regain their function after injury; we probably operate on around 500 patients a year at the moment and hope that this will increase as our theatre facilities expand.

“Many of them didn’t expect to be helped in such a way and assume that their useful lives were over.

“The ability to carry out implant surgery also allows us to have a training environment where we can train local orthopaedic specialists who will continue to provide the service in the future. In the last year two have qualified and there are five more in the pipeline.

Dr Bates added: “It is no exaggeration to say that the support from NOTAA has transformed the care that our orthopaedic trauma patients receive as well as the training environment in Malawi’s main teaching hospital.”

To donate to the team, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/NOTAA2018TransCumbriaChallenge