29 July 2023

Goddess of the sky challenge

Sarah Haynes is a pre-school practitioner, and this July took on the Sagarmatha hill climb ultra challenge. This challenge is for her mum, Jean, who was a nurse in the General Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Southampton, however after complications following surgery, sadly passed away in the ICU where she worked.

“I grew up in Totton and have lived in the area my whole life. I am very close to my family, and I know how lucky we are to have a hospital like University Hospital Southampton (UHS) right on our doorstep if ever we need it.


My mum, Jean was an intensive care nurse at UHS. She was one of those amazing nurses that cared for critically ill patients following major trauma or illness.

Mum being a nurse was all I knew growing up. She was fantastic at her job, but it always felt like more than that to her. She humanised and personalised her care, she saw the individual not just the patient, and this compassion extended to the relatives too.

We are not sure when she found a lump as she kept that to herself so not to worry us. She had investigations and attended appointments, then eventually told us as a family that she had cancer in July 2004. Heartbreak is an understatement.

Mum went in for surgery on her gall bladder and liver, but following complications, she was transferred the general ICU, being treated by her colleagues. There she stayed for over a month on a dialysis machine for her kidneys, and with a tracheostomy to help her breathe.

She needed emergency surgery eight more times, but eventually we had to make the difficult decision to let mum go.

I was 21 at the time, and it was devastating.

Mum used to tell us sometimes about how hard it was being there for the families when they had to make that decision, but I never thought that it would be us in that situation.

The nurses that cared for my mum were her friends, and it was the hardest thing to see. For them to remain professional whilst they tried to save my mum, it was their courage that inspired me to raise money for the unit.

The challenge!

On the 22 July, I took on a 24-hour hill-climb challenge, although now friends and family have renamed it Sarah’s Hill!

I completed 40 reps of this hill, reaching an elevation of 5,480 feet, higher than Ben Nevis!

I was very determined to complete this challenge for my mum and have wanted to raise money for Southampton’s ICU for some time through Southampton Hospitals Charity.

Physically and mentally, I wanted to do something that would test every bit of me. To be an ICU nurse you must be a strong, resilient individual, and my mum was exactly that. She was an incredible, caring, and compassionate nurse.

What could be more challenging than spending 24 hours going up and down, over and over the same hill.

It was a weekend full of emotion, rain, wind, and mud. It was hard work, and it became progressively more challenging as the weather deteriorated.”

Articles you may be interested in

24 May 2024

Tackling period poverty at Princess…

Alison Boon, a dedicated Urogynaecology Nurse Specialist at Princess Anne Hospital, has joined with Southampton Hospitals Charity to spearhead a wonderful initiative to combat period poverty in Southampton.

Find out more

23 May 2024

UHS paediatric surgeon connects art…

Presented by Southampton Hospitals Charity, Mr Robert Wheeler, a paediatric surgeon at Southampton Children's Hospital has collaborated with the Arts Programme at University Hospital Southampton to curate an exhibition...

Find out more