Talking Head

Headmaster's blog at Newcastle School for Boys

June 5, 2019

Character run for childhood cancer charity

One of my favourite occasions in the first half of the summer term is joining the School’s boys and parents taking part in the annual local Children’s Cancer Run at Newcastle Racecourse.  This year was its 37th running.  At home, we have some old family photographs taken at the first one back in 1982.

The run is organised by the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR) charity which, during the past 40 years, has raised over £30 million to help establish the north east as world-leaders in childhood cancer research.  It is hoped that this year’s event will have raised in excess of a further £250,000.

In 1979, survival rates for children with cancer were very low, around 25%.  Thanks to research carried out since and continuous improvements in therapy, around 80% of children diagnosed with cancer today survive the disease.

Waiting at the start of the run with our boys, parents and all of the other schools creates a real buzz of the shared excitement and nervous energy always present at such mass participation challenge events.

As well as raising valuable funds – several hundred pounds of sponsorship to date – the run is also a great opportunity for our boys (and their family members and teachers) to exercise some of the character virtues linked to the School’s aim to develop boys and young men of excellent character.

Each year, the event brings together our school community and connects it with the wider local community including those who may have faced the anguish and trauma of a child’s cancer diagnosis.

Our boys taking part showed good awareness of the cause that they were running for.  Even our very youngest boys displayed empathy in understanding that they were running to help ‘the poorly children’.

For some boys, the act of signing up and attempting a run was a demonstration of their courage to challenge themselves to do something they would find hard.  Others flew around their chosen course in some very fast times.  It was great to see these boys’ fitness and energy.

My particular admiration was reserved for those boys who showed real resilience.  The Year 7 boy who completed the five-mile course for the second year running and the Nursery boy who stepped in at the last minute and ran three miles in the place of his older sister who was unwell on the day.  Both boys signed the Headmaster’s book for outstanding achievement but there were also a number of other equally resilient candidates.  The Year 4 boy who, unable to join this year’s run due to other family commitments, took part in a bike ride and independently raised money for the NECCR charity – a fantastic act of empathy and support.

Thank you to Mr Clark who, for the third year running, did sterling work in organising our entry and encouraging participation.  It was his leadership that encouraged so many boys and parents to take part again this year.

I am already looking forward to Newcastle School for Boys’ participation in this fantastic event again next year.