Oaklands’ Maintenance Manager walks 7 marathons in 7 days to raise money for mental health charity

Posted on 9 February 2022

We are so proud of our Maintenance Manager, David Ray and his brother John Ray, who took on the immense challenge of completing 7 marathons in 7 days to support The Burnt Chef Project. The brothers successfully navigated the challenge and raised almost £1000 for the not-for-profit organisation which provides dedicated services and training to support the mental health of hospitality workers. What an amazing achievement!

The charity is very close to their hearts as John, a hotel manager, like so many in the industry, has experienced difficulties with mental health.

David also reflected; “After I left the army, I went into hospitality and trained to become a chef, so I understand the pressures people face within the industry.

“COVID-19 has really hit hospitality hard and many of the people in the sector are struggling with their mental health. I wanted to walk side-by-side with my brother, raising awareness and funds for a great cause.”

Starting in Southampton, they covered 184 gruelling and very hilly miles, to Brighton and back. Having never attempted a challenge on this scale before, David relied on his army training and previous lengthy cycling rides to get himself over the finish line. The brothers endured blisters and even an infected foot, David continues; “It was a long slog, but my background means giving up is not an option!” They were spurred on by the support of their friends and family in Gosport, and kind strangers they met on route, which helped to keep their morale high.

The seven-day challenge started on 11th October, where Councillor Alex Houghton, Mayor of Southampton, officially started the proceedings. One of the main boosts for the brothers was that they were greeted by the Mayors in Brighton, Winchester and Southampton who chatted with them before they started their day – that, and lots of ice cream!

We’d like to congratulate David and John on their massive achievement and thank them for bringing awareness and much-needed funding to this fantastic course.

Anish Patel, operations director at Oaklands, added; “David’s an incredibly valued member of our team and we are very proud of his achievement. The level of dedication he has shown in supporting this great cause highlights the kind of person he is.

“David leads our maintenance team, where he has gone above and beyond to create the wonderful gardens that our residents enjoy on a daily basis, while still helping out in the kitchen when needed.”

John, aged 46, who has also worked in the kitchen at Oaklands, said; “I’ve worked in the hospitality industry since I left school and I’ve seen first-hand the impact it can have on people’s mental health.

“Over the years, I’ve known so many colleagues struggle, including myself, and it’s only now with the Burnt Chef Project leading the way, that I can see actual change.”

In response to their incredible achievement, David was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent. You can listen to his accounts of their epic 7 marathons in 7 days adventure below.

For more information about Oaklands, please contact our team on 02380 845759 or email info@oaklandsresthome.co.uk