A 50km challenge for mental health and wellbeing

Practice director Emma White completed the Lake District challenge in memory of family members

woman sitting in a field holding a medal
Emma White

A managing director of an independent opticians has completed a gruelling 50km run through the rough terrain of the Lake District to fundraise and raise awareness of the mental health charity Mind. 

Emma White, managing director of My Optician – a Hakim Group practice in Canley, Coventry – completed the challenge on Saturday (8 June).

As an ambassador for mental health and wellbeing, White choose to support Mind having received bereavement support from the charity following the loss of her two children and her mum.

Mind is a mental health charity based in England and Wales that aims to make mental health an everyday priority. It campaigns against injustices within the workplace, healthcare and law, and also provides support to individuals.

White, who has worked in optics for over two decades, had been preparing for the challenge both physically and mentally since December 2023.

Explaining how much the challenge meant to her ahead of Saturday, White shared: “I’m excited but also terrified. One of my biggest fears is self-navigation and I will need to confront that to complete the challenge, but it’s an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up on.”

White completed the challenge on what would have been her daughter’s 33rd birthday. “Over the years running has become a huge place of solace for me, so it’s all together a really special day and I hope that it will shed a light on this important cause and support Mind in helping others in need,” she said.

Reflecting on the challenge, White told OT: “On the drive into the start I was extremely emotional and unsure if I could complete it as well as I wanted to. However, once we got started all those feelings just disappeared as I focused on the beautiful scenery and the terrain under foot. My aim was to run when feasible then speed walk the hills.

“At 8km to go I gave myself a stern talking to, remembering why I was doing this – for Hayley and all the people who had sponsored me. When I crossed the finish line I was hurting from top to toe, but the feeling of achievement was immense. It took a little longer than I had hoped, but ultimately it had been a challenge and a half and I completed it. I know emotions will be up and down for a while, but wow, what a day.”

White finished the challenge in nine hours and seven minutes. To date she has raised over £1600 for mind. 

Ahead of the challenge, My Optician held a raffle, with prizes ranging from branded accessories, to champagne and chocolates courtesy of Tesco and Boots in Canley, as well as a voucher for Penny Farthing Public House.

The practice also offered minor repairs and adjustments on frames in return for donations of any size towards the fundraising.

“The response from everyone in our local community, including patients, family, friends and other independent businesses, has been incredible,” White shared, adding: “I want to extend a huge thank you to everybody who has contributed or even just offered words of encouragement. It has been heartwarming to see so many people come together for such an important cause.”

Those who wish to support the fundraising can do so via JustGiving.