SISTERS-in-law Louise and Karen Baker will take on a marathon challenge later this year – quite literally.

The pair are planning to run the full 26 mile MBNA Chester Marathon on October 9 and, in doing so, will be raising money for a good cause in their home town of Wrexham.

Louise, 48, has been a keen runner for several years and has already completed a half marathon.

For 45-year-old Karen, however, this is a totally new adventure.

Louise explained: “Karen is a novice who started running mid-April to keep fit. I’ve been doing it a few years and I did a half marathon in 2007. We are running with our friend Mandy Williams. It was Karen who actually said ‘lets do a marathon’.”

Louise and Karen, who both work in administration at Wrexham Maelor hospital, will be raising money for Nightingale House hospice.

“I’ve raised money for Nightingale House before,” Louise continued. “I’ve had friends who have died over the years and I will be running in their memory. I work in the heart failure department at the Maelor Hospital and some of our patients come here.

“It costs a lot of money to run this place.”

In fact, Nightingale House will have to raise almost £2.5 million this year alone.

As well as the inpatient unit, they also provide a day unit, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, complementary therapies, emotional and social support, pastoral and spiritual support.

These services require significant funding.

Margaret Hollings, community and events fundraising manager, explained: “We only get 19 per cent of our funding from the local health board, as comparable to about 35 per cent in England.

“The amount we have to raise is £2.46 million and, like anywhere else, we are subject to rising costs - gas bills, electric.”

Margaret and her colleagues have been faced with a tough task over the past couple of years.

“This year has been a big struggle,” She admitted. “A lot of people who would normally be raising money for the hospice have been focused on fundraising for the Eisteddfod.

“The economic climate has been a massive issue and we have had to find different ways of engaging the community as best we can, knowing that there is a general shortage of money at the moment.”

There are many ways to support the hospice.

“We have a new second hand furniture shop on Rhosnesni Lane,” Margaret added.
“I co-ordinate our events, such as the Ladies Midnight Walk, Light up a Life at Christmas.

“We also have the lottery and other shops.

“We cover a large area – from Oswestry and Whitchurch over to Barmouth – so the most important thing is making people aware that we are here and what we do.

“Raising the money needed is always a huge task and we want to quash any rumours that we get enough. We rely very much on people such as Louise and Karen doing amazing things to help us and we are very lucky that the community in Wrexham is so supportive.”