Fun, fitness, furry friends and physics were combined as youngsters from Darlington took on a special ‘Walk the Planets’ challenge.

Around 30 Year 5 pupils from St Augustine’s RC Primary School were invited to take part in the event, launched by the Mayor of Darlington at the town’s South Park on Monday (23 September).

Organised by the North East branch of the Institute of Physics (IOP) in collaboration with Durham Music Service, Darlington Borough Council and South Park Café, the event aims to raise much-needed funds for two charities – Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT 195).

Angelina Anderson-Groves, Branch Chair of IOP North East, explained:

“This is the first of what we hope will become an annual event, and something that other IOP branches can do in their areas, combining fun, fitness and furry friends with physics and a chance for the children to learn more about the planets.

“The children were challenged to complete a 5k walk, for which they sought sponsorship, and at key points around the route they were able to find out about the sun and planets in our solar system.

“We also had volunteers from Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, including Hearing Dog Vimmie, to talk to the youngsters about what the impact being deaf can have and how the charity trains dogs to alert a deaf person to specific sounds such as the doorbell or smoke alarm.

“It’s a charity very close to my heart, as I am hard of hearing and eagerly waiting to be matched with my own Hearing Dog.”

The Mayor of Darlington, Cllr Nick Wallis, said:

“We were delighted to host this event at South Park and it’s been great to see the children having so much fun while learning about the planets and raising funds for two very worthy charities.”

The children raised money for the two charities by securing sponsorship to complete the 5k ‘Walk the Planets’ challenge. The children were accompanied by their teacher Irene McKenna, teaching assistant Eszter Dunleavy, head teacher Martina McCollom and several parent volunteers.

The children also enjoyed music and songs organised by Durham Music Services, and heard from representatives from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and HCPT 195 about the work of the two charities and Natasha Lund from Kielder Observatory.