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St Helen’s Primary School pupils beat 126km challenge laid down by teachers to raise thousands for family’s heart surgery

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 February 2018

Staff and youngsters from St Helen's Primary School in Ipswich having defeated the 126km challenge set by teachers. Picture: IPSWICH JUNIOR PARKRUN

Staff and youngsters from St Helen's Primary School in Ipswich having defeated the 126km challenge set by teachers. Picture: IPSWICH JUNIOR PARKRUN

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A determined band of proactive pupils challenged by their teachers to top 126km over 12 weeks have smashed their target in just seven – raising thousands for a good cause in the process.

St Helen's Primary School staff Debs Broughton (left), Jodie Phillips (centre) and Jasmine Boldero (right) at Ipswich parkrun. Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUNSt Helen's Primary School staff Debs Broughton (left), Jodie Phillips (centre) and Jasmine Boldero (right) at Ipswich parkrun. Picture: IPSWICH PARKRUN

In November, six members of staff at St Helen’s Primary School in Ipswich announced in assembly they would be taking on the Cambridge Half Marathon in March.

With the six set to run a combined 126km at the event, the school’s PSHE co-ordinator David Southgate laid down the gauntlet for pupils to beat that in just 12 weeks at the Sunday junior parkrun in Christchurch Park.

A total of 19 children aged from 4-11 duly took up the task and on January 28 surpassed their teachers – five weeks before their deadline.

But keen not to rest on their achievement, the pupils are continuing for the remaining weeks to see just how much they can beat their teachers by.

Headteacher Kate Hodgetts said: “The parkrun is a great way for children to stay active and fit.

“It has been fantastic to see so many of our children rising to the challenge.

“The smiles on their faces when they knew they had beaten the teachers was wonderful and even better is the fact that many want to continue to run each week.”

The staff half marathon was originally intended to be a bit of fun, but after one of their colleagues received the news that her husband Craig Travis, aged just 39, needed an emergency heart valve operation, the team opted to go all out to raise cash for the cause.

The treatment has an estimated cost of around £30,000, with the school staff and pupils hoping to raise £2,000 through the half marathon and the junior parkrun towards the treatment.

But already £2,475 has been raised, with the runners aiming to raise as much as they can over the remaining weeks of the challenge.

Deputy headteacher Martin Jarvis said: “We decided to make our run count for something important.

“We set up a ‘justgiving’ page for sponsorship and have already surpassed the £2,000 target we set and hope to raise even more.”

Once the 12 weeks have finished, the pupils are eyeing other challenges set by their teachers to beat, as the school aims to inspire its pupils to ‘be the best they can be’.

To donate to the cause, visit the online donating page here.

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