Pfizer employee and runner Sharlene Phillips spent months preparing to run the London Marathon on 26th April to raise funds for International Health Partners. Instead, as Covid-19 hit, the marathon was postponed and Sharlene put her training schedule on hold. Now she has a new role teaching her children PE – alongside Joe Wicks – during lockdown. We caught up with Sharlene to find out why she’s still passionate about supporting our work.



Q: You were busy fundraising for IHP until March. Talk us through it.

A: Yes, I’d thought I would make my target, and had a successful ‘smoothie bike’ fundraising event in which (by pedalling hard) I created more than 30 smoothies. Even people who didn’t see me on the day sponsored me, which was great. I was lucky to get that event in – things shut down soon after.


Q: When you heard the London Marathon wasn’t going ahead, how did you feel?

A: I was disappointed but it was clearly the right decision to keep people safe and not have big crowds. They did the right thing.


Q: How have you been finding lockdown?

A: I’m quite lucky to have my own office at home and Pfizer has been great: our whole team is online and we’ve been able to communicate well. Pfizer is doing a lot on the vaccines front, and we still have to keep other work going, working to the same timelines to deliver products and get them out to the market on time. So we’re really busy.


Q: What have you learned from lockdown so far?

A: Mainly I’ve learned to appreciate my two children, aged four and six – it’s been nice to be with them all the time, and they’ve even been involved in work calls because they come in and say hi in the background. Work and family life are intimately intertwined.


Q: How have you been staying healthy?

A: We have been doing PE in the mornings online with Joe Wicks – that’s solid in our routine. Sometimes the children have a laugh at me doing it; it’s pretty hard work. We also do zumba, and cosmic yoga where they’ll do the poses while listening to a story. One day, as well, we created an obstacle course and timed each other doing laps, kicking the ball, doing sit-ups and knocking all these cans over at the end. I wasn’t the fastest, which my kids were quite pleased about. It’s really important for them to stay active – they are used to running around in the playground and they do tennis and dance classes and stuff so they need to release that energy.


Q: What are your tips for exercising during lockdown?

A: Making it part of your daily routine is important. You need to do something a certain number of times to make it a habit, and the first few times are the most difficult. You can get such a lot on YouTube – different types of exercise routine for different fitness levels – so if you look, there will be something fun. Doing exercise with the children isn’t as intensive, but it’s good fun.


Q: Until recently, you were training hard in preparation for the London Marathon. Are you still running?

A: Training has gone out of the window completely. I do go for one run a week, for up to two hours, and on other days I use my one bit of exercise to go out with the kids. Sometimes if they’re on their bikes or scooters I have to run to keep up with them. I love getting out for a run, but it’s not possible to do more, but I have my bike on a turbo trainer so I can cycle a couple of nights a week to keep my fitness levels up. I can watch TV at the same time.


Q: In the UK, we’re focused on staying healthy. When our own healthcare system is struggling, why is it so important to think globally and support IHP’s work to send medicines to vulnerable people?

A: In the UK, we’re experiencing issues with PPE and other things, and in places the NHS is being overrun; but in other countries, health systems are already overrun and can’t cope. If Covid-19 is put into that mix, how much worse is it going to be for those people? Our worst fears are already a reality there – that’s why we need to think about them and support IHP’s efforts to supply needed medicines. Imagine if you lived in a country that didn’t have an NHS, or had a broken health system, and you also had a global pandemic going on. These are the people we need to help.


Support Sharlene via her Virgin Giving page or donate directly to IHP’s work.


We need your help! Keep the supply of essential medicines flowing by taking on a home-based sponsored challenge today. Visit our Lockdown Challenge page here for more information and ideas to get you started