Soap star takes on marathon mission for PDSA

Former Hollyoaks actress, Gemma Merna is taking on her first ever marathon mission as she sets her sights on completing the London Marathon in October for vet charity PDSA.

Animal lover Gemma is planning to take on a virtual half marathon this April as part of her training and fundraising effort.

Gemma and her dog Phoebe. Photo credit Gemma Merna

The Liverpool-based soap star and yoga teacher is taking on the 26.2 mile challenge to raise vital funds for PDSA, who help sick and injured pets whose owners struggle to pay for vet care.

With a gruelling training programme in place to help her cross the finish line, Gemma is hoping animal lovers will support her mission to raise over £2,000 for PDSA on her JustGiving page here.

Gemma said: “My three dogs, Cole, Paige and Phoebe are my world and I utterly adore them. They are my best friends and I believe they have taught me what unconditional ‘love’ is. Cole, my St Bernard, is nearly thirteen and suffers from a heart condition and is on a lot of medication. I know how much vet bills cost and I can’t imagine someone’s much-loved pet going through the same and not being able to afford treatment when they need it most.”

Gemma confesses she is not a natural runner and only started running at the beginning of the pandemic.

She added: “I couldn’t even run ten minutes without stopping. It was a real struggle but gradually I’ve built up my running time and I’ve found it’s massively helped with my mental health throughout lockdown.”

Using her experience as a yoga, meditation and wellness coach, Gemma has found the skills to support with her marathon training.

“I use daily meditation to get myself ready for my for my runs.” She adds. “I use it to keep positive intentions and it helps to keep me calm. I find running like mental gymnastics that comes with a lot of self-doubting thoughts, but with meditation, I understand they are just thoughts and let them pass. I just need to keep my attention on my breath and intention. Yoga is the perfect recovery to stretch out my body after training sessions.

“My dogs even have their own yoga mats and they love meditation. I’m planning on holding yoga and meditation classes with pets, to help fundraise for PDSA. I find the stronger you get with your running the stronger your mind gets. Each run is completely different, and you have to accept it, just as each day is different. I have massively fallen in love with running and it’s something I want to always do.”

PDSA Fundraising Manager, Amy Wareing-Reid, said: “Gemma’s inspiring marathon efforts means many pets will receive the vital care and life-saving treatment they need and we’re enormously grateful to have her support. We’ll be cheering Gemma and the rest of the Team PDSA’s runners along the course and I hope to local animal lovers will support her too.

“At PDSA our veterinary care is a lifeline to so many owners across the UK and we rely on kind supporters like Gemma to be able to continue our vital work. Pets have provided invaluable comfort and companionship to so many during these challenging times and we believe no pet should suffer because of financial hardship. We’re so grateful to Gemma for her support for her support, which is needed now more than ever.”

To support Gemma’s marathon mission to raise £2,000 for PDSA, head to her fundraising page: