March Miles, an inclusive fitness challenge, aims to clock up 8,000 miles by motivating Richmond School and Sixth Form students and staff to walk, cycle, run and raise money for two very worthy causes throughout the month of March. The target of 8,000 miles is the area covered by the Great North Air Ambulance Service and 50% of the money raised will be donated to the charity, with the other 50% to refurbish the school’s fitness room with inclusive equipment. The initiative, organised by PE teachers Jack Moore and Helen Southgate, is in memory of Dave Clark, the school’s former Deputy Headteacher who was a keen sportsman and lover of the great outdoors.

With dwindling levels of motivation for regular exercise reported in the media, it is vitally important that students are keeping active and the March Miles challenge will provide a new incentive and drive to get the school community moving again. Over the last 12 months, leisure activities have moved online and there has been more independent working with an increase in screen time for many. The challenge will not only encourage students to be outside and experience the goodness of fresh air but also reinvigorate their love of sport, as well as bring confidence and teamwork skills as we all work together for some great causes. The benefits of all of this to mental health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated.

Jack Moore, PE teacher, said: “In September 2020, we tragically lost the legend that was Dave Clark, himself a PE teacher and Deputy Headteacher, and we have waited to pay our respects as a PE Department with a challenge that he would be proud of. We wish to raise money for a good cause but also to help us to afford to properly kit out our fitness room so it is an inspiring and inclusive environment for our students and staff to use.  Dave was someone who always encouraged students to be the best they could be and always to challenge ourselves. We believe that combining our efforts to support the Great North Air Ambulance and also enhance the sporting facilities at Richmond School would be something that Dave would approve of.”

Helen Southgate said: “We were inspired to do this challenge by Will Arnold, a Year 11 student, who did his own walk, cycle and running challenge in October last year, raising over £1,300 for the Great North Air Ambulance.  We were so impressed with Will’s amazing efforts that we are taking it a step further with a target of covering 8,000 miles. We hope to collect approximately £5 sponsor money from each person taking part.  Teamwork is one of the school’s values and we know that together everyone achieves more. We also know that we can rely on Team Richmond School to step up to the mark and make this challenge a huge success. With spring around the corner and some hope on the horizon, and with lockdown measures gradually easing, we feel this is just what we all need to get ourselves re-energised while doing something really positive for our community.”

Sophie Bendelow, Community Fundraising Officer at the Great North Air Ambulance, added: ““The staff and students at Richmond have been incredibly supportive of our charity, so we were delighted when they announced their March Miles challenge to raise further funds for us. We know Dave Clark was a keen sportsman and had previously taught PE so we think it’s lovely that the proceeds will be split between the Great North Air Ambulance Service and getting some new fitness equipment for the school. We would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who is taking part in the challenge and we wish them the best of luck covering 8,000 miles.”

A major part of the refurbishment of the school’s fitness room is to improve the space and make it accessible for all abilities.  There will be specific equipment that is suitable for wheelchair users or students and staff who may have health complications that mean they are not able to use some of the traditional fitness kit.

Jenna Potter, Headteacher concluded: “This is a great initiative to get our school community outside and active whilst also doing something extremely positive for our school and the Great North Air Ambulance.  I am so grateful to Mr Moore and Mrs Southgate for giving up so much of their own time to organise the challenge and I know that everyone involved will benefit hugely from taking part.  There will be some friendly rivalry between tutor groups and year groups, with a league table to see who covers the most miles, and I understand that the staff are joining together as their own year group, so let the competition begin!”

If you would like to donate to the March Miles fundraising, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/richmond-school-march-miles. Current Government guidance will be followed at all times during the challenge.