Chris Eberhardie’s 1000 Mile Challenge.

Chris Eberhardie, a retired nurse, hopes to inspire others to keep fit and to promote physical and mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus.

Chris is taking part in the ‘Walk 1000 miles’ challenge in order to raise awareness and money for the HighGround Charity. Click here to find out more details about the challenge.

“In these difficult times, I feel I have to do my bit to stay out of hospital by keeping fit. I am over 70 so I cannot volunteer for the NHS. But, I want to help the military because they not only defend us, they are always there when we can’t cope… In the last five months they have responded to the floods, worked with the NHS to establish large field hospitals in Docklands and in other parts of the UK to provide care for the Coronavirus outbreak. When they come to the end of their service they may have difficulty making the transition to civilian life. HighGround is there to help them.”

Chris’s 30 year career in the Territorial Army nursing reserve started in 308 General Hospital RAMC (V) in 1970 and she spent 20 years with 375 NST(V) which was one of the Army’s Neurosurgical teams and ended with 306 Fd Hosp (V). She retired as a Major in 2002 and is a keen gardener and supporter of the military.

HighGround provides Horticultural Therapy as a rehab intervention for injured soldiers, sailors and airmen at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall near Loughborough. They also help Service Leavers and Veterans find jobs, careers, and vocational opportunities in the land-based sector. Anna Baker Cresswell set up the charity in 2012, in order to help ex-military to find jobs they like and enjoy, in the outdoors.

How did you start training for your 1000-mile Challenge?

‘Most of it started in my back garden… It gave a purpose to life in lockdown and I ask you not only to sponsor me but to join me in your garden, hallway or back yard. We will come out of lockdown fitter and we will have done something for others who are doing their bit for us now.

Why are you supporting HighGround?

Chris met Anna at the Society of Apothecaries in London, “When she told me she was a Horticultural Therapist I just knew that I wanted to know more.” She learnt all about the work of HighGround and thought “What a remarkable achievement.” Chris has nursed soldiers of all generations who had suffered traumatic injuries. She says “I was very much an action woman when I was nursing. Surgery and trauma – that was my bag – but as I matured I wanted to know what happened to patients afterwards, this is where HighGround comes in.

She added  “It’s all very well for health care professionals to put our servicemen back together again but what do they do then? HighGround’s work is not just about the wounded; it’s about people being valued for what they’ve done, and helping them to re-purpose skills they learned in the military so they can live their lives after they’ve come out of service; many of their skills are transferable particularly into the land-based sector.”

As a founder member of the Friends of HighGround what do you hope to achieve?

“I’d like to see the Friends expand and become more of a community in a way which enables Friends and volunteers to engage with HighGround but also to get something back.” Chris conveys that a lot can be done, whether it’s networking, getting the word out about what HighGround does or organising an event. Everyone has the potential to help.

“My husband was in the Parachute Regiment and their fundraising usually involved things that were really tough and stretched the limits. I mean, I can’t see me or anybody in my immediate entourage rowing the Atlantic or leaping out of an aircraft or running the marathon wearing full body armour! They’re inspirational but there are plenty of other things that people like us can do at the moment, even if it’s just donating what we would have spent having a coffee, a lunch or a night out with friends. When the pandemic is over we can make jam and cakes, run raffles and book sales.”

Is the garden important to you?

“I can’t say I’m a born gardener. I like looking at gardens more than working in them! I suppose it’s something I’ve come to, later in life.” However, in the current situation with COVID-19 Chris states, “The garden is my lifeline.” Chris’s interest in Horticultural Therapy was prompted by the garden at the Wolfson Medical Rehabilitation Centre, where patients spent time with Occupational Therapists, “The patients benefitted from being in the garden.” She says that the use of therapeutic benefits of the garden is not new  as it was a concept used back in WWI.

After a conversation with Chris, it became clear that she is passionate about HighGround and strives to motivate others to join her in her 1000-mile challenge. Chris encourages others to keep fit and get ready for action on the release date.

Please support and join Chris in her 1000-mile Challenge by clicking here.

For more information about HighGround’s services please contact Anna Baker Cresswell. Email: anna@highground-uk.org. Telephone: 07951 495 272. www.highground-uk.org. You can keep up to date with their progress through signing up to their quarterly newsletter and become a Friend of HighGround.

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