Publish date: 6 October 2023

An NHS senior manager who underwent heart surgery in 2021 is giving back to his local hospital by completing this year’s Great South Run for Portsmouth Hospitals Charity.

Mark Roland, Deputy Medical Director at Portsmouth Hospital University NHS Trust (PHU), will complete the 10-mile route on Sunday 15 October in support of NHS staff who have helped him back to good health following open heart surgery in May 2021. oHo

Mark’s running journey with his local charity comes after he first noticed something felt different when working on a New Year’s Day shift in 2021.

Climbing his usual 10 flights of stairs from A level to F level at Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA), Mark recalls how he had a ‘funny turn’. With the support of cardiology colleagues, he went on to have further tests that revealed he’d need an aortic valve replacement.

Since surgery, Mark has gradually eased back to physical fitness, starting with circuits of his garden, and working up to a 5k run within the first year and 10k runs in the past year.

Mark said: “I’ve never been a great runner though being on this running journey has felt very empowering for me. Running has helped me both physically and mentally to cope with life’s stresses.”

Mark - whose previous fundraisers include cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and walking from Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to Great Ormond Street Hospital, respectively - added: “Contributing to Portsmouth Hospitals Charity by completing the Great South Run is a real joy as they do great work in raising funds to support our hospital.

“Whether helping purchase virtual reality cameras for children or with feeding resources within our hospital’s maternity department, the charity has a broad reach in terms of where they support people and I feel honoured to be a tiny part of that.”

Kate Sandys, Head of Portsmouth Hospitals Charity, said: “We’re delighted to have Mark on our team and both his story and support for our charity are amazing.

“If you feel inspired by Mark, we still have some places left to sign up for the run - which takes place just six miles from QA Hospital - so we’d be delighted to have you join our team via our website at:

“Thank you so much for your support.”

You can donate to Mark’s Great South Run fundraiser by visiting