Fundraise Your Way

James Garden

Professor Garden describes how a personal challenge led to creating online surgical training opportunities for overseas students in Africa.

Name Professor James Garden
Cause fundraised for Fellowships for MSc surgical distance learning programmes to allow overseas training surgeons to enrol despite living in disadvantaged parts of the world
Method of fundraising Ran 2 Chicago marathons
Professor Garden with graduating student Juana Kabba
Professor Garden with graduating student Juana Kabba

Why did you decide to fundraise for your chosen cause?

I have led the development of our successful surgical distance-learning programme, the MSc in Surgical Sciences, which was launched in 2007. The programme is intended to assist in the professional and academic development of the training surgeon and augment their in-the-workplace experience. Following the launch of our programmes, we were surprised to see tremendous interest from other countries and have now supported students in some 50 countries.

We were fortunate to receive support from Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon and Physicians for Peace which has fully funded some 9 trainees in Malawi. Having seen how this transformed their training experience, I decided to set an example and raise monies myself to widen access to our programmes in Africa specifically.

To date, I have supported successfully trainees in Sierra Leone and Zambia. This form of support is particularly well-received since the postgraduate education is delivered without trainees having to leave their own working environment. This is vital since their presence is crucial in providing much needed surgical care in those countries that often have difficulty attracting back surgeons once they have travelled abroad for work experience. 

How did you raise money?

The easy bit was registering for the Chicago Marathon and I managed to submit my entry on the day after entries opened and just 48 hours before they closed!  I had never run a marathon before but thought it was something to tick off my bucket list.

I knew that by using Holyrood Park as my training ground, the flat course in Chicago would not present too much of a challenge. I did require to commit regular hours each day to maintain my fitness which was not so easy to do as summer passed and the rainy, darker evenings of September arrived. 

The second marathon was harder as I started my training regimen later but the reward equally pleasing.

Fundraising wisdom

I did not set out specifically to raise monies for charity when I decided to run the Chicago Marathon for the first time to improve my own fitness but would recommend doing this since it adds to the responsibility of achieving both goals! I managed a good enough time to qualify in the veteran’s category to run the Boston Marathon but sensibly decided not to run this more challenging course but rather enjoy the experience again in Chicago!

Although I raised a modest amount, my endeavours were a great way of engaging with friends and colleagues for a good cause.