Love Island's Priya Gopaldas kicks off ultramarathon in support of NHS staff
Former Love Island star Priya Gopaldas has kicked off a gruelling ultramarathon in the Sri Lankan heat to raise funds for her fellow NHS workers.
The reality TV personality, who appeared in the ITV dating show last summer, is embarking on the 250km ultra-X marathon from March 21-26 in aid of NHS Charities Together, which supports the mental health and wellbeing of health workers.
As a fifth-year medical student who worked in an intensive care unit during the pandemic, Gopaldas explained she took up the challenge after she saw first-hand the devastation Covid-19 caused and how this affected NHS staff.
Gopaldas said: “Saying the last two years have been intense is an understatement. Working in ICU we were surrounded by people who were dying in unprecedented numbers.
“Seeing patients die is something you never really get used to, but during the pandemic it was relentless – and I remember seeing young, healthy patients who should not be dying at that age die from Covid. You can only imagine the mental impact that had on NHS workers.
“Counselling was available to me at the time, and while I didn’t personally use it I know other NHS staff who did, and how important it was.
“That’s why the work of NHS Charities Together is so vital – NHS staff need their help to get through the challenges they continue to face, and I wish people knew the difference their donations can make.”
The TV star and medical student will face average temperatures of 30 degrees as she takes on the extreme running circuit.
She explained that she found running has helped her manage her chronic lung condition of bronchiectasis and wants to inspire others to take up the sport to help manage and prevent some conditions.
Gopaldas added: “Not only will exercise help people individually, it will help the NHS because it will take pressure off services.
“It’s easy from the outside to look at cancelled appointments and long waiting times and be frustrated by the NHS, but people don’t see how many hours staff put in behind the scenes.
“Everyone has to realise how hard staff are working and we need to take care of them, because they won’t be able to take care of us if we don’t.”
NHS Charities Together works with a network of more than 230 National Health Services charities to provide help to NHS staff across the UK.
The charity has said they have funded more than 400 projects specifically supporting the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff so far, including helplines, counselling, and dedicated psychological support for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chief executive of NHS Charities Together, Ellie Orton, said: “We are so grateful to Priya for embarking on this incredible challenge and giving back to NHS charities in this way.
“Staff have been through so much during the last two years and continue to need our support as they recover from the most challenging time in NHS history.
“As the national, independent charity caring for the NHS, we are here for the long-term and want to help the service go further for all of us.
“The NHS can’t face every challenge alone and every single fundraiser and supporter, like Priya, makes a difference to staff, patients and volunteers.
“With your help we can fund the important extras government budgets can’t stretch to, and achieve better healthcare for us all.”