Bishop's Stortford paramedic living with long Covid dons Christmas outfits for Barnardo's Race for Santa appeal
A paramedic with long Covid who has witnessed first-hand the effects of childhood poverty is racing towards a £1,000 charity fundraising target by running around Bishop's Stortford dressed in a variety of festive outfits.
Aptly-named Lisa Merry, 42, is taking part in the Barnardo's Race for Santa appeal to provide children in need with food and gifts over Christmas.
Partnered by her dog, Fozzie, and joined at weekends by 8-year-old daughter Tallulah, Lisa has dressed up as an elf, Santa, a reindeer and the Grinch.
She has to clock up 24 miles by Christmas Eve, while the combined mileage of the event's fundraisers must be enough to circle the world and reach the North Pole by the deadline.
Lisa, who lives in Rye Street with partner Danny and works for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust based in Chelmsford, is over halfway to her distance goal and smashed her initial £100 target by raising £760 – not an easy task when she struggles for breath as a result of long Covid, having contracted the virus early in the pandemic.
"Each day I run a few miles. To some it may not seem too challenging, but having long Covid has made it a mission," she said.
"Through my line of work as a paramedic I've come across a lot of unfortunate children, and, while I cannot get too involved, I wanted to do more than my job and to raise as much money as I can towards presents and food for these children.
"I may look ridiculous and run like Forest Gump, but I'll do what it takes to help as many children as possible – they're all worth going that extra mile for."
She added: "I decided to get my family involved and we all dress up, even the dog.
"The response so far has been brilliant. I wasn't expecting to get as much as I have and I'm really proud to say that I've got the largest fundraising amount out of 170 people taking part.
"And when you see the money coming in it keeps you going because you know it's going to a really good cause, to provide a bit of magic at Christmas time."
Barnardo's is a children's charity which was founded in 1867 by Thomas John Barnardo to care for vulnerable youngsters. Its first home for boys opened in London in 1870, initially with a limit on numbers.
But when an 11-year-old lad was found dead — of malnutrition and exposure — two days after being told the shelter was full, Barnardo vowed never to turn another child away.
To donate to Lisa's JustGiving page, click here.