A group of 30 colleagues from Wates Construction, based at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre Project, have put their best feet forward after taking on a 40-mile walk and raising over £10,000 for Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity.

The team from Wates Group pulled on their walking boots to tackle a Commonwealth Games-inspired route, from the Ricoh Arena in Coventry to Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which has been newly built to transform the leisure offering for the local community. 

The walk was organised and led by Paul Reynolds who is the Project Director and also a fundraising stalwart, who arranges similar charity challenges for his colleagues every other year. The firm chose to support a national mental health charity as well as Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity.

It was colleague, Andrew England, who championed the hospital charity’s Woodland House Appeal to bring a new, standalone bereavement centre to the hospital. It will create a safehaven for parents experiencing pregnancy and baby loss and is a cause Andrew is passionate about, after his own son, Oakley Jacob, was sadly stillborn at the hospital 10 years ago.

Andrew said: “Losing Oakley Jacob was devastating, and we can’t thank the incredible bereavement team at Birmingham Women’s Hospital enough for the support they still give our family to this day, but we can see the value in having a new, separate space, just for families like ours to grieve privately.”

The team set off at 5.30 in the morning and thankfully the weather was on their side. With regular pitstops to ensure the team’s energy levels remained high, they crossed the finish line at 8pm.

Paul said: “As a team we really enjoy giving back to the community and with Birmingham 2022 just around the corner we thought it only fitting to try and visit as many of the sporting venues we could along the way. We also managed to incorporate a stop at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, which of course is a special place for Andrew.

“We’re proud to have raised such a fine amount for the appeal, thanks to Wates’ match funding, and feel so humbled that our contribution to Woodland House will help so many.”

Dearbhla Craddock, Corporate Partnerships Officer at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, joined Wates for the last 17 miles of their journey. She said: “A 40-mile-walk is no mean feat, but the Wates team are always filled with such enthusiasm and passion which didn’t seem to run out even during the final miles.

“We’re so grateful to Andrew for sharing his heartbreaking story and inspiring the entire team to raise such an incredible amount, which has helped us cross the finish line and means we can get started on making Woodland House a reality for bereaved families just like his.”