The UK-wide relay will fundraise for the Laura Hyde Foundation, which provides mental health support and awareness to frontline medical workers. The event already has the support of British Triathlon, with hundreds of multisport athletes expected to join the many already signed up. We spoke to volunteer director, Simon Wright…
What is the relay?
The WRT2021 national relay is to remember and support Covid-19 frontline workers. Teams and individuals will carry specially-made batons in relay legs around the UK as they fundraise for the Laura Hyde Foundation charity, which provides mental health support services for frontline workers. We’re raising money and bringing people together (safely) to support the NHS and other frontline workers in this very difficult time. The relays will take place in the summer/autumn of 2021; and thousands of runners, swimmers, cyclists, canoeists and climbers have already started to sign up!
The relay will see teams and individuals carry batons in stages all across the UK, with thousands of triathletes already signed up to complete a leg, be that a loch swim in the Scottish highlands, a hike up Snowdonia, a downhill tumble as part of Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling, or a cycle between hospitals. The relayers will attempt to visit as many hospitals and care homes s possible en route to pay tribute to the staff by reading a poem that will be carried inside of the baton.
How will it work?
The UK is divided into 8 regions – each with its own relay route and baton: South West England, South East, Midlands, North West, North East, Wales, Scotland and Islands, and Northern Ireland. We’re also hoping to have a relay around the Channel Islands. A team of volunteers are currently connecting the different individual and group relay legs together in their region, to create 8 separate relays. The relays start at different places on different dates; but all the batons will come together on/around the 25th September in Plymouth to finish the relay.
The significance of Plymouth is that this is where Laura Hyde was working before she died. And it was her suicide that inspired the launch of the Laura Hyde Foundation. Each relay baton will have a name – “Florence”, “Nightingale” etc. But the huge number of people taking part in the relay, coupled with uncertainty around what pandemic restrictions will still be in place later this year, means that it will not be possible for everyone to carry one of these batons. So people will be able to order special commemorative WRT2021 relay batons which EVERY individual and group can carry (and keep) when they do their relay legs – creating one giant, virtual WRT2021 relay team.
A full map of the legs already organised can be found here.
What’s the wackiest relay leg already organised?
Could be the cheese rolling, or the scuba diver. But we’ve also got some mega swims, including those across the Bristol Channel, epic bike rides like JOGLE (Land’s End toJohn O’Groats), and big runs including along the West Highland Way.
How can I get involved?
STEP 1: PLAN YOUR RELAY LEG
Choose between the different options, these include:
An individual relay leg – e.g. a cyclist moving the baton from A to B, or swimmer swimming a lake end to end, or horse rider carrying the baton on a hack.
A group relay leg – e.g. a group of club swimmers swimming together with the baton, or Tri club cyclists carrying the baton and connecting with another Tri club.
An organised “Rainbow” relay event – join an organised event – stay tuned on more news about these coming later…
A “Hero” relay leg – an individual or a group doing some kind of Herculean challenge with the baton! Your relay route could be A to B, or circular. Or it could go up and down a mountain! Or underwater? Or go 10,000 feet up in the air in an aircraft. Or maybe it’s just a gentle socially-distanced walk with a group of friends to help us raise money. The choice is yours. Need some inspiration? Look at the WRT2021 relay map to see what other people are already doing around you!
STEP 2: REGISTER YOUR RELAY LEG
After you’ve planned your relay leg, get in touch with us to register it, so our relay coordinators can connect it to one of the WRT2021 relays around the country (new registration website coming end March). Registration is free, but we kindly ask everyone to make a donation to the Laura Hyde Foundation so they can keep caring for our frontline carers. You can make a donation when you register. We’ll be launching the WRT2021 registration web page soon – so stay tuned for the page address. Before then, you can send us an email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
STEP 3: JOIN THE RELAY
After you’ve registered, our volunteers will put your relay leg on the WRT2021 relay map. On the map will be information about you/your group and your relay leg – with videos, pictures etc. Please note that it will be your responsibility to ensure your relay route and activity is safe and legal – and you have carried out any necessary risk assessments.
The WRT2021 relay is made up of hundreds of different relay leg activities and fundraising events – all taking place around the UK in the Summer and Autumn of 2021. But unlike a real relay race, the batons don’t have to be continually moving from one person to another – which would be a logistical nightmare!
All the relay routes will start at different places on different dates; but they will come together in Plymouth on the same day at the end of September to finish the relay. Where possible along the relay routes, relay participants will try to visit their local hospital, or other emergency/frontline service, and read a poem that’s inside the hollow batons as a way to remember and thank our frontline carers.
STEP 4: FUNDRAISE
We’re raising as much money as we can for the Laura Hyde Foundation, so they can keep caring for our frontline carers in this terrible pandemic. The charity has some important initiatives they want to support with money raised from the WRT201 campaign – which they’ll be announcing in the coming months. So after joining the relay, you/your group will be able to set-up your own JustGiving page linked to the overall WRT2021 campaign. And as a thank you for reaching certain fundraising targets, we’ll send you some very, very special REWARDS…
STEP 5: GET REWARDS
Wait until you see what we have planned for our WRT2021: finisher medals (but not your typical type of medal), collectible badges, T-shirts, special cycle/run tops, commemorative relay batons, and beautiful “Thank You” rewards for reaching fundraising targets. All designed by top UK designer, Cookie Cartoonery.
STEP 6: DO THE RELAY!
Each relay will start at a different location on a different date somewhere in the UK. Right now our plan is to start the relays between May-July, but this may change because of Coronavirus restrictions. The named relays on the map (like North>South “Florence”) have organised dates/locations when one relay leg will pass the baton to the next. Everyone will of course do this safely with sanitiser and distancing. The WRT2021 relay map markers show these changeovers.
But there are also numerous other virtual WRT2021 events taking place around the UK in the Summer and Autumn that are not connected to the named relays – so they have no date dependencies (they can take place whenever it’s safe to do so). People doing these will carry special commemorative WRT2021 relay batons, which they can keep. As the batons move around the UK we’ll track them on our relay map and encourage people to upload videos and pictures of themselves doing their relay leg.
Along the relay routes we’ll try to visit some frontline staff in hospitals, care homes etc and read them a poem that’s carried inside the batons. More news about this coming later. At the end of September all the relay batons will make their way to Plymouth for the closing ceremony on/around the 25th September. This date might change because of local restrictions. We’ll present the batons to the Laura Hyde Foundation and announce how much money the campaign has raised. It will be a very emotional moment for all of us involved in the planning and delivery of the WRT2021 relay – what has become a massive logistical operation.
What is the Laura Hyde Foundation?
“The Laura Hyde Foundation was founded in late 2017 following the death of Laura Hyde on the 4 August 2016. The Laura Hyde Foundation’s mission statement is to provide mental health awareness and support for all aspects of our medical and emergency personnel to remove the stigma around raising and discussing mental health issues. With mental health awareness growing all of the time with taglines such as #ITSOKNOTTOBEOK, the Laura Hyde Foundation focuses specifically on our medical and emergency personnel given their exposure to trauma, conflict and external pressures.”
The WRT2021 Relay registration page goes live end of March, check out the Facebook page for more information.