Canonmills woman helps to raise over £7m for NHS through Run for Heroes

A 27-year old woman from Canonmills, Edinburgh, has been left overjoyed after she helped to raise an unbelievable £7million for the NHS.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 7:00 am

Let us know what you think. Join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Olivia Strong came up with the idea for Run for Heroes in March 2020 when running around Arthur Seat during the first lockdown.

The idea was to encourage people to run, walk or cycle 5km, donate £5 to charity then nominate five others to do the same.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Olivia, who works as a documentary-maker, said she’d been left thrilled as donations surpassed the £7million mark.

All of the money raised has gone to organisation NHS Charities Together - which supports healthcare staff and volunteers.

The project was a viral hit and was backed by celebs such as singer Ellie Goulding and Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore.

And to build on the success of the initiative, Run for Heroes is planning a 5KMay challenge which will ask those taking part to walk, skip, jump, run or swim their way to 5K this May.

Set by Olivia Strong - a Documentary Producer, 27 years-old, based in London but originally from Edinburgh.

Those taking part in the 5kMay challenge can do so on their own or as a group and will be asked to donate £5 to a charity of their choice, then nominate 5 others to complete the challenge.

Run For Heroes has partnered with a host of other charities for 5kMay, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Choose Love, Mental Health UK, British Heart Foundation and NHS Charities Together. So those taking part can now support any of the partner charities or make a donation of £5 to their chosen charity.

To take part just head to to sign up to the challenge.

On the initial success of Run for Heroes, Olivia said to The Scottish Sun that: “It’s a colossal amount of money. I still can’t believe it. It was quite an emotional moment when we hit it.

“I was watching it go up very intently and was worried we wouldn’t hit the figure when there was about £800 to go.

“It’s left me all speechless. I just want to give every runner involved a hug.”

Olivia spotted several people running, walking, and cycling, and it dawned on her that people’s daily exercise routines could be used to raise money.

So she named the campaign Run For Heroes and set it up that afternoon, originally aiming to raise just £5,000.

But it soon took off after it was backed by a string of big celebs including funnyman Jimmy Carr, Aston Villa assistant manager John Terry and actress Lily James.

She has tried to downplay her own role in raising the huge sum.

Olivia said: “It’s just been beyond my wildest dreams. I am just so grateful to all the runners for taking part and it’s obviously been great having celebrities supporting it.

“We couldn’t have reached this figure without them.”

She now plans to step back slightly from the charity challenge to focus on her career, but will still continue to keep a close eye on the total.

“I’m probably going to take a bit of a step back from it now, but hopefully it keeps raising more money.

“I just hope it cheered people up a bit and maybe it’s got some people into running. It’s been great to be involved in.”

To donate, click here.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.