North East Connected

College team puts best foot forward


College principal Ellen Thinnesen, vice principal David Howells, and assistant principals Judith Quinn and Vikkie Morton have signed up to take part in the Active Sunderland BIG Walk 2016, to raise funds for the college’s Sensory Garden at its Bede Campus.

The college quartet are limbering up to take part in the longest of the three city walks – the 7.5-mile route – to raise much-needed funds to support the specially-created outdoor area, which provides a project-space for the college’s Foundation Learning students.

Ellen, who will get started on the walk in Herrington Country Park, said: “The Sensory Garden will be an inspirational learning environment for our young people and adults with learning difficulties and difference, creating a rich, and engaging space where they can build their skills and confidence.  Our staff and students have already completed a lot of fund raising activity for the garden (which helps develop a young persons enterprise skills) and the BIG Walk enables the College’s senior leadership team to further support fundraising and ensure this valuable resource is sustainable into the future.”

“We thought the BIG Walk, being in Sunderland, was not only a great chance to support a local event, but also a challenging enough activity to make a fundraising effort.  We’re really looking forward to getting through the walk, and hopefully raising a lot of money for the garden in the process.”

The event, which is open to members of the public who register in advance, starts and ends in Herrington Park and there is a choice of 3, 7.5 and 11.5 mile walks, meaning people of all ages and abilities can take part.  The walks visit some of Sunderland’s most attractive locations, including the Victoria Viaduct, Elba Park and the picturesque River Wear at Cox Green.

The walk costs between £10 and £12, depending on which route is taken, and under-fives can take part for free.  The price includes BIG Walk entry, a rucksack, medal, goody bag and access to free family fun activities, sports and Nordic walk taster sessions.

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, at Sunderland City Council, said: “The BIG Walk programme is a perfect opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors and active – and for many walkers – a chance to raise money for a range of charities and causes.

“We’re delighted to hear that the college’s senior team is leading by example and taking part in the walk to support a space that is clearly very important to a project led by young people and the college, and we wish them every success in both the walk itself and their fundraising activities.”

To find out more about the BIG Walk, visit

Photograph caption: Left to right – David Howells (Vice Principal), Vikkie Morton (Assistant Principal), Judith Quinn (Assistant Principal), Ellen Thinnesen (Principal)

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