The Edinburgh runner raising millions for NHS charities with 5k challenge

By Hope Webb
BBC Scotland

  • Published
Olivia StrongImage source, Olivia Strong
Image caption,
Olivia Strong came up with the idea when she was out for a run

Olivia Strong was on a run around Arthur's Seat during lockdown when a fundraising idea came to her.

The 27-year-old saw many others using their daily form of exercise to run, walk or cycle and it inspired her to harness that activity for good.

She came up with a plan to encourage people to run, walk or cycle 5km (3.1 miles), donate £5 to charity then nominate five others to do the same.

So far, the initiative has raised more than £2m for to support NHS workers.

She named the campaign Run For Heroes and set it up that afternoon. All the money it raises goes to NHS Charities Together.

All over the world

She told BBC Scotland: "I ran back home, set up an Instagram account… and sent it out to family and friends. Then 'Run For Heroes' was born."

"Like many people I wanted to do more.

"My job was reduced from five days a week to two days a week and I wanted to use that time the best I could to raise money for the people that need it the most.

"I have friends who are junior doctors and they are working around the clock at the moment, I wouldn't be much help in a hospital but I can put my skills towards trying to help."

Initially Olivia shared the campaign with her loved ones in the UK and abroad.

But before long before it started being passed on through friendship groups and extended families and reaching all corners of the world.

"Once it got to Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai, it just kind of starting spreading and more and more people got involved."

Image source, Lynsey Sharp
Image caption,
Scottish athlete Lynsey Sharp is among those who have taken part
Image source, Andy Jordan
Image caption,
Andy Jordan, from the TV programme Made in Chelsea, has participated in the charity 5k

Before she knew it, the likes of singer Ellie Goulding, Andy Jordan from "Made In Chelsea", Scottish athlete Lynsey Sharp, John Terry and Chris Moyles all got involved and started raising money for healthcare staff.

"The initial target was £5,000 and within four days we reached that, which looking back now is crazy. "

"Reaching £1m was a good moment, I really didn't think that would happen. I had a little cry!"

On Wednesday the campaign reached the £2m fundraising milestone.

And Olivia's goal does not end there - she thinks the ultimate milestone to reach would be raising £5m.

"It would be the dream to get to £5m. 5k to £5m would be the biggest success ever.

"But I think all of us that are working on the campaign right now are really happy to see where it has gotten so far so anything else would just be a bonus."