Hospital staff take a leap of faith to fundraise for their patients

Published: 28th March 2018

We may live at a time of uncertainty for our NHS, but City Hospitals Sunderland staff will fight to continue providing amazing care for their patients. Staff from all over the NHS trust are volunteering to fundraise by abseiling down Sunderland Royal Hospital on the 22nd April, and event organised by City Hospitals Sunderland Charity.

Dr Yitka Graham

Yitka is a researcher based at Sunderland Royal and the University of Sunderland, specialising in bariatric surgery – surgically assisting patients to lose weight. Yitka wants to raise awareness and fight the stigma of bariatric surgery whilst raising money to help make the hospital more comfortable for the patients she supports through her research.


“Undergoing bariatric surgery is not an easy decision - it significantly affects peoples' lives, as they learn to adjust to new ways of eating, social relationships and living with changes that bariatric surgery brings. These adjustments are not widely understood by others, which can make life difficult for our patients. Bariatric surgery doesn't just change lives, it saves lives. It is an effective method of weight loss; it is not cheating or a waste of NHS money as some people wrongly think. Please consider supporting me in my abseil - I'm terrified of heights, but I'll rise to the challenge - just as our bariatric patients do!”

Marie Wilcox

Marie is a Staff Nurse on Ward C33 at Sunderland Royal Hospital. The ward primarily cares for patients fighting head and neck cancers. Marie was first introduced to the ward during one of her clinical placements during a return to nursing practice course with Northumbria University.

“I started work on the ward back in December, and I’ve been enjoying the work so much and everyone has been so supportive that I thought I could definitely give something back and fundraise.”

The ward team will be able to use Marie’s fundraising to help fund additional equipment around the ward, or make it more homely for their patients and visitors. Hundreds of patients pass through ward C33 every year, so her fundraising has the potential to touch many lives.

Yitka, Claire and Marie aren't alone in abseiling down Sunderland Royal - many other staff as well as former patients and relatives are taking part too, all for different areas of the Trust.

Claire Boylan

Claire Boylan is an Elder Life Specialist Practitioner at Sunderland Royal. She works with patients suffering from dementia or delirium from the Alexandra Centre, ensuring that the impact of their illness is minimised, and that they can enjoy life and as much independence as possible. The Alexandra Centre team are a much loved service in Sunderland, with hundreds of families recognising the impact of their work.

Claire is hoping to raise money for additional equipment and resources so the centre can make therapies as personal support as possible.


Claire (left) with niece and fellow fundraiser Kayleigh.

“Fundraising enable’s the team to provide therapies for our patients such as reminiscence, music therapy, theme days and pamper sessions. To do this we require equipment. As a team we are always looking for ideas to fundraise so that we can buy the equipment required for any new activities we wish to provide. The therapies we provide make a huge difference to our patients and their hospital journey.”


Diane Gulliver, Stroke Specialist Nurse, abseiling down Sunderland Royal September 2017.

About City Hospitals Sunderland Charity

The charity is run by City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust to fund projects over and above what the NHS provides. You may have been a beneficiary of the charity and not even known it. From decorating children’s wards through to televisions on the kidney unit, the charity funds all kinds of initiatives that help patients of the Trust. Fundraisers and donors have the option to specify where they want their support to go – right down to the ward or service they care about.

Places are still available on the abseil if you would like to support a ward or service at the hospital. In particular, Sunderland Royal's Paediatric wards and the Eye Infirmary are in need of support.

Learn more about the event and register at