Light Bulb Moment: Henny Braund on hugging marathon runners

The chief executive of the blood cancer charity and bone marrow register Anthony Nolan shares a key insight from her working life

Henny Braund
Henny Braund

Going to my first London Marathon with Anthony Nolan five years ago was a real buzz and I instinctively hugged the first of our runners to cross the finishing line. After running the 26-mile course, he looked exhausted and my hug was a spontaneous act. I've continued to do that with our runners at every marathon to the extent that there's now a #hugHenny hashtag – I'm told that runners look forward to getting their hug.

This act made me realise that it's all about the individual and real engagement. As a charity that saves the lives of three people a day, our mission is very much about each person and this also has to translate into the way we work. We must actively value each staff member, patient, volunteer and donor. A lot of the time, leaders can get caught up in strategy, but remembering that everyone is a human being is very important to the work we do. It is not possible to build meaningful relationships with people at arm's length; you have to engage with them.

Hugging marathon runners was not planned as a corporate policy. It came from real emotion and I just knew at the time that it made sense. It's a tangible way of making people know that they matter and it's a living example of our supporter engagement strategy. But it can also be very sweaty!

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus