Mind, Body & Soul n

Running a hospice on a diet of carrot cake and 10K runs

How does a busy full-time, working wife and mother run one of the county’s most respected hospices? Well, it helps if you’re fit, explains Heart of Kent Hospice’s chief executive Sarah Pugh….

How are you?

Really well thank you. I’m just getting over a hectic Christmas. How is your health generally?

Good. I’ve always led a fairly healthy life and think it’s very important to keep yourself well when you’re balancing work and family. However, my knee is niggling me today – I clearly did not stretch enough after my run yesterday.

Have you ever had any major illnesses?

Thankfully, no. I had a couple of operations when I was eleven and twelve but nothing major. I consider myself incredibly lucky. In my role I meet patients of all ages who are coping with terminal illnesses, and I am truly humbled by their courage and dignity. At Heart of Kent Hospice we believe that being diagnosed with a terminal illness doesn’t mean you stop living. That’s why I am proud to work with such dedicated teams who support patients and their families not only to live independently and comfortably day to day, but also enabling them to fulfil their ambitions - whether that’s getting married, travelling abroad or simply enjoying a family outing.

Do you take any medicines? No. But I have had my flu jab, have you? It’s very important to protect yourself, family, colleagues and, for me, patients.

Have you ever considered herbal remedies?

I’ve never used them but I would consider herbal remedies if I felt they would help me in some way. I eat a fairly balanced diet including a lot of vegetables so I hope I’m getting most of the goodness I need!

Ever needed an osteopath or chiropractor?

Fortunately not, but I have started doing some yoga at home recently as I would like to avoid ever having to see an osteopath or chiropractor! I have a busy schedule at the hospice and spend quite a lot of time in meetings so I feel it’s important to look after my back. We’ve also been supporting our colleagues at Heart of Kent Hospice to look after themselves, as their health and wellbeing is very important to us. We recently ran a Health and Wellbeing Week and had a number of external visitors who gave up their time to offer health advice and pamper our team.

What, if any, exercise do you take?

I run a lot (hence the knee issue today) and like to do 10k races throughout the year, which I try to fit in around family life as I have two young daughters. I’m looking forward to the Heart of Kent Hospice 10k Maidstone Road Run on the

March 18. I took part in it last year and it was great fun. I also like going to the gym where I cycle, run and do weight training (which sounds far more serious than it is!). I recently got some kettlebells at home to improve my overall fitness and I’ve been surprised at how easy they are to use. As I said earlier, I do a bit of yoga too – I am not at all flexible but find it very relaxing.

What are your vices?

Hotel Chocolat’s ‘The Brownie’ Bar. Best chocolate around. I like a little bit every day. I’m also partial to a slice of the carrot cake served in our café in the hospice in Aylesford and at Heart of Flavour Maidstone. I recommend it if you’re in the area.

What is the best piece of health advice anyone has ever given you?

If you’re poorly, whatever you do don’t Google your symptoms! Working alongside our team of nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants at the hospice I see every day how assessing a person’s condition requires so much more expertise and specialised knowledge than a search on the internet will ever be able to tell you.

Would you like to live forever?

I’d like to have a long and healthy life, but not forever. Knowing that you won’t live forever helps you to make the most of everyday, to value things differently. I think sometimes people want to live forever because they are afraid of dying. For me, working at Heart of Kent Hospice has transformed any views I may previously have had about death and dying. I now feel absolutely confident that, with the support of a local hospice such as ours, people can have a very comfortable and dignified death, surrounded by those they love.

“If you’re poorly – whatever you do, don’t Google your symptoms…”

Mid Kent Living 35

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