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Cottesmore Academy pupils to run 3,613 miles 'to Mali' as Army parents deployed to Africa




Cottesmore Academy pupils are running more than 3,500 miles to raise money for play equipment and help them cope without their parents.

A sizeable group of the school’s 160 pupils at the Kendrew Barracks school, will be saying goodbye to parents who are being deployed for a six-month training exercise in Mali.

Year 5 and 6 teacher Billy Wakefield hit upon the idea of Miles2Mali, a running challenge to cover the 3,613-mile distance from Cottesmore to the West African country.

Year 5 and 6 children with teacher Billy Wakefield who came up with the idea. Photo: Cottesmore Academy
Year 5 and 6 children with teacher Billy Wakefield who came up with the idea. Photo: Cottesmore Academy

All of the children and 20 staff have been tasked with running 15 minutes every day around the school track.

“A lot of parents have been deployed to Mali so the children are obviously upset, especially coming on the back of the lockdown,” said Mr Wakefield.

“Because we are an Army school we have a huge turnover of pupils, but the most disruptive point is when parents get deployed.

“We see huge fluctuations in behaviour and it can have a big impact.

“So we decided to do something for them and to bring the community together and get parents involved as well.”

Pupils are looking to raise £15,000 for a new trim trail. Photo: Cottesmore Academy
Pupils are looking to raise £15,000 for a new trim trail. Photo: Cottesmore Academy

Their route will take a diversion to Poland, where other parents have been deployed, before heading back to France and then south through Spain, Morocco and then Mali.

“It has really taken off and all the children are super keen, although the staff aren’t very happy,” Mr Wakefield added.

“We started on the Monday morning and our first target was to get out of England, which was 170 miles, and by Wednesday we had done it.

“The way we are going, two weeks into next term we will have hit Mali.”

Ready to run. Photo: Cottesmore Academy
Ready to run. Photo: Cottesmore Academy

Sports ambassadors from Year 6 are co-ordinating the ambitious challenge and each week create a motivational video.

These have included video messages from Peterborough United FC and from their overseas parents, while Leicester City FC have also sent messages of support.

“This will give the children a connection with their parents and hopefully we can raise some money,” Mr Wakefield said.

Early years foundation stage pupils with teacher Nicola Gray. Photo: Cottesmore Academy
Early years foundation stage pupils with teacher Nicola Gray. Photo: Cottesmore Academy

“Our obstacle course was condemned and the children wanted a new one which will cost £15,000, so we’re trying to raise as much as we can towards that.

“They have gone through a tough year, but they are so resilient.”

To donate, visit https://donatemyschool.com/cottesmore-academy-2486 or call the school office on (01572) 812278.



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