The star of a quirky hospital flu awareness video who once worked at Funny Girls in Blackpool, is swapping his high heels for walking boots to raise money for charity.
Luke Sumner, who now works as a charge nurse at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and his colleague, senior staff nurse Amy Mutch, are in training for an epic trek through the Grand Canyon.
They are aiming to raise money for the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund which enhances care for patients across the Trust.
Luke, 35, from Blackpool, recently appeared as his alter-ego, Lulu D’Muir in the Trust’s flu jab awareness video. He said he might even pose for photos in the Grand Canyon wearing an outfit like those worn in Priscilla Queen of the Desert!
Amy, 25, from Preston, is a Brownie pack leader with the Girl Guiding 9th in Fulwood.
Both work in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CITU) at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre which is based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and they are hoping to raise at least £8,000 between them.
Luke said he had recently met up with his brother in Las Vegas and was lucky enough to have an amazing helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon.
The intrepid pair’s trip will be take place from September 16 to 23 and each day they will walk for 10 to 15 miles in searing heat.
Luke said: “It’s completely up my street. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s for a great cause – the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund. The charity does a lot for every part of the Trust. They money will go to whoever needs it. Lots of people will benefit.
“My partner is ‘Barry Zumba’ who holds dance classes in the Blackpool area. He thinks it’s great and he’s going to help me to get fit. I’ll be hitting the gym and going on lots of walks.”
Amy said: “It will be quite a challenge for us. We’re going into training now. It’s an opportunity to get fit and healthy.
“I’ll be fundraising with my Brownie pack, my family and my colleagues. The more people we can get to help with fundraising the better.”
The pair will be fundraising at a special Night for staff from the emergency services at Funny Girls on January 27. The night is free for emergency services and NHS staff and they will be holding a raffle and collection on the night. Anyone interested in attending the event can contact Funny Girls.
Luke said: “I worked at Funny girls for 10 years in some of the shows and on the bar. I have lot of friends there and they want to help us to raise the money.
“The NHS night at Funny Girls will be just the start of the fundraising.”
Amy said she also wanted to do the charity challenge because she wanted to give something back to the Trust.
She said: “I love working here. It’s a really good Trust. I always feel it’s very positive to work here. I feel very valued.
“We have a fantastic team on CITU. We’re very close and we support each other a lot.
“We have some very difficult situations here in CITU. No matter how bad it gets, the team is there to support you.
“We have recently set up a Family Focus Group for relatives of patients who come to CITU long-term.
“Some patients are here for months. The relatives need support and we have talks so that they don’t feel afraid to ask questions. They also get a business card with a list of nurses in the team.”
Luke explained that if a patients needs heart or lung surgery they go to CITU after their operation.
He said: “Many patients are in for a short time and some need to be here for months. They are here until they are well enough to move onto a cardiac ward.
“We also deal with emergencies such as road traffic accidents, cardiac arrests and stabbings.
“The unit can change from minute to minute. Two people can be arresting at the same time.”
Luke and Amy are also trained in Cardiac Advanced Life Support (CALS) which means they can reopen the chest of a heart patient to perform internal cardiac massage, if necessary.
Luke added: “It can be the difference between whether a patient survives or not.
“You feel empowered as a nurse on our unit. I’m glad we are doing the Grand Canyon walk to support teams like ours in the Trust.”
Ann Hedley, Head of Fundraising for Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, said: “Luke and Amy are our first recruits and you couldn’t meet nicer people.
“Thinking about the less well known areas of the hospital which might not attract donations is just like them.
“Areas like A&E are often forgotten when patients move into the main part of the hospital and we are raising funds so that the patient experience in areas like that is as good as elsewhere in the hospital.
“We support those things additional to the NHS statutory obligation – it may be a book, a special piece of equipment or something which makes a patients stay recovery more pleasant.
“We’ve got lots of things planned to support our participants and the first of these is an information night on February 9.”
Anyone interested in taking part in the trek can book it with Nicci Hayes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01253 957904 and go along to the information night.
If you would like to sponsor Amy and Luke please go to their JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cardiacitu
Donations can also be made by texting: CITU99 £5 (or any other amount) to 70070.