A keen cyclist whose father was cared for at St Giles Hospice is backing its new Miles 4 St Giles fundraising campaign and urging people to sign up during their days in lockdown.

Miles 4 St Giles, a 30-day challenge you can undertake while enjoying your daily exercise break or just pottering around in the house and garden, has been launched because the hospice still needs to raise £850,000 every month just to keep its services operating at a time when many of the charity’s regular events have been halted.

IT sales and marketing manager Jonathan Miller, aged 48, said that Miles 4 St Giles was a great idea which would really help both the hospice and the fundraisers as they dealt with the challenges caused by social distancing.

Jonathan Miller in cycling action and (right) Jonathan’s dad David Miller.

He said: “Charities like St Giles Hospice have really been hit hard by having to cancel or postpone fundraising events, so innovative initiatives like Miles 4 St Giles are a real lifeline to help them get through the current crisis.

“As a keen cyclist I know the physical and mental benefits of getting daily exercise – the break from routine, fresh air and the feeling of the sun on your head can make such a difference to your health, especially when you have to be cooped up for so much of the day.

“Since the lockdown started I’ve noticed more cyclists and runners out and about than ever so it’s a great idea to combine your exercise with fundraising – where you can do it responsibly – and at a time when we are all forced to be a bit more insular it’s good to remind ourselves that there are other people out there who still need our help.”

Jonathan, from Four Oaks, added that he knew firsthand how important the care St Giles offers to patients and their families could be as his dad David Miller, a former Doctor of Chemistry at Aston University, had attended the Day Hospice in Whittington in 2017 and 2018 before his death at Christmas 2018.

“My dad had motor neurone disease and he found that visiting the day hospice gave him a massive lift,” he said. “It broke up the routine, gave him something to look forward to and he was able to get a bath and shower there and even have a haircut! It also gave my mum a break so she could go out as well.

“St Giles was always a very welcoming, warm, friendly and positive place. He got brilliant, high-quality care and there was such an attention to detail. I had already taken part in Cycle St Giles a couple of times but once they started looking after my dad it gave my fundraising a real relevance and I’ve now taken part in the ride half a dozen times.

“The whole family is so grateful. At Christmas my in-laws had a get-together in their village and my young daughters raised £100 for the hospice by running a pampering session for the ladies.”

Elinor Eustace, Director of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said she hoped that people wanting to get some fresh air each day would embrace the challenge of taking part in Miles 4 St Giles.

She added: “While many people in the community have been told to remain at home to stay safe, our dedicated care teams at St Giles are still working 24/7 in their hospices and out in the community to look after some of the area’s most vulnerable patients.

“They are covering miles and miles to keep the hospice going and we’re asking local people, can you do the same? We’re inviting people to give their exercise a purpose by joining #TeamStGiles and clocking up Miles 4 St Giles. You can walk 30 miles, run 60 miles, cycle 90 miles or even take on a triathlon by combining all three.

“Alternatively, you can set your own distance and do it your way – indoors or out. We’ve had people clocking up their miles by going up and down their stairs, and heading into the garden or out on the allotment as well as running, walking and cycling.

“If you sign up to our sponsored challenge you can earn some great rewards along the way including medals, tote bags, water bottles and t-shirts to give you a boost as you hit those milestones.”

Miles 4 St Giles has been launched as part of ‘Katie’s Appeal’, the charity’s urgent response to the coronavirus crisis which aims to raise public awareness of the disruption to regular fundraising activities and a rising demand for its care.

As only around a third of its funding comes from Government, the hospice relies upon donations and fundraising to finance the £10m it needs each year for its services.

To find out more about Miles 4 St Giles visit www.stgileshospice.com/miles4stgiles

People can donate to Katie’s Appeal by making a one-off or regular monthly donation online at www.stgileshospice.com/katiesappeal or by calling 01543 432538, or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘St Giles Hospice’ to Katie’s Appeal, St Giles Hospice, Fisherwick Road, Whittington, Lichfield, WS14 9LH.