Royal Free nurse raises £15,000 for HIV services

Tom Fernandez

Royal Free Hospital nurse Tom Fernandez trained during lockdown for a Tough Mudder challenge, which also gave him time to raise £15,000 for HIV services - Credit: Royal Free

A Royal Free Hospital nurse practitioner has raised more than £15,000 to support patients living with HIV two years after he signed up for an assault course challenge.

Tom Fernandez works at the Ian Charleson Day Centre (ICDC), at the Royal Free Hospital, which provides a range of specialist HIV services.

To mark the centre’s 30th anniversary in 2020, Tom signed up to the Tough Mudder challenge and – after two years of postponements due to Covid-19 – he completed the notorious obstacle course on April 1.

 “I was planning on doing Tough Mudder initially as a fundraiser for ICDC’s 30th year back in April 2020," said Tom.

"Unfortunately, as the pandemic evolved, this date got cancelled and the rescheduled date became an ever-moving target.

"Nonetheless I had committed to training for the event and carried on that training schedule for the two years it was postponed.

“The lockdowns and restrictions brought many challenges but I had two personal trainers and learnt how to train at home, on Skype, in the park, back at the gym and even on holiday.

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"The training was a good discipline for me and helped with my motivation to fundraise as well as my physical and mental health whilst working through the pandemic, which was invaluable."

He said another advantage of the postponements was the "very long fundraising period" it allowed.

"I was absolutely blown away by the support I received both in encouragement and in sponsorship. It felt like although everyone was having a difficult time, people still had a sense they wanted to give and support which was hugely appreciated.

"I had donations ranging from £500 to £1 and welcomed each one. When I eventually completed Tough Mudder on April 1, 2022, I had reached a staggering total of £15,000.”

A spokesperson for RFH said: "Tom’s superb fundraising achievement will help the ICDC to address some of the non-medical needs that people with HIV have, including isolation, loneliness, or physical mobility problems.

"The money raised will pay for wellbeing support particularly for older patients, many of whom have lived through difficult times of loss and fear, and have the legacy of earlier AIDS diagnoses and side effects from more toxic earlier drugs used for HIV infection."