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  • School in a Bag 11:01 am on March 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Immortal Sport, marathon, , runner, , , ,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 30: Mum of four runs in red for Yeovil Half Marathon! 

    Our Blog in a Bag this month is from charity supporter, Naomi Maynard, who ran her second Half Marathon last Sunday and chose to raise money for us. Read about her challenges, her highs and lows and the race day itself…

    I ran my first half marathon on Yeovil last year in 2017. I clearly remember saying hello to Luke (School in a Bag’s Founder & CEO), dressed as giant SchoolBag while standing at the start line and thinking to myself that I’d really missed out on an opportunity to raise some money. I decided at that point that if I ever ran a half marathon again, that I would raise money for a worthy cause, and that that cause would be School in a Bag. Fast forward to January and I saw a Facebook post from School in a Bag, who were looking for runners to get their half marathon team together. I put my name down straight away and got myself signed up. With registration complete I had two tasks; training and sponsorship. Keeping fit is one of my hobbies and having run the course before, I wasn’t too worried about the training. I was however concerned about getting sponsorship. I assumed that charity links on Facebook would get scrolled past and felt awkward about approaching people to ask for money directly.

    So I came up with a plan; I would bake cakes. Fitness is one hobby of mine, baking is another (because life is all about balance, right?!) and so I offered to bake boxes of cupcakes for anyone willing to sponsor me. It seemed like a brilliant idea – I wouldn’t have to beg people for money, the charity would receive sponsorship and my friends would get cakes! Perfect. I made oven loads of cakes and advertised them on Facebook, sent them to my husband’s work colleagues and had a cake sale at my toddler group (where a small group of mums and dads brought 60 pieces of cake in one hour!) I raised about £130 selling cakes, so with sponsorship sorted I turned my attention to training. I’m a stay at home mum of 4 children, the youngest of which is 2. Life is busy and time to myself is rare (especially if I want to go out without the children) so I usually exercise at home while the little one sleeps. I love doing my work outs and it makes me feel good, but as the race date grew closer I became more and more concerned that I hadn’t been out for an actual run in months. I planned to run at least once a week in the build up to the race, but life really did get in the way! One week the little one was poorly and had to stay home with me, one week my in laws were poorly and couldn’t look after the little one, and then there was the snow! In March! (who could have predicted that?!) it just wasn’t safe to run outside. So I stayed home and I did the best I could to build up my fitness and my leg strength by doing high intensity interval training and weighted squats and lunges.

    I was so worried about the lack of training that had I not been running for School in a Bag and already collected sponsorship, I might have considered backing out. As it was, I kept telling myself that I’d get around somehow and came to terms with the fact that I would take longer to run those 13.1 miles than I had last year. The day before the half marathon was my birthday, which was great from the point of view that it gave me the perfect excuse to eat cake! I kept calling it “pre race carb loading!” On the other hand, it meant that I had a late night the night before the race because I went out to celebrate with friends and I didn’t get to bed until midnight. My little one woke up twice that night and then woke up for the morning at 6am, which wouldn’t have been so bad had the clocks not gone forward, losing me an hour.

    SIAB YHM team 2018

    SIAB Yeovil Half Marathon team 2018


    SIAB Yeovil Half Marathon team 2018


    On 5 hours of broken sleep, I got up and got myself ready. Already feeling exhausted and panicking that I hadn’t trained enough, I was actually pretty emotional on the drive into town, but I put on my brave face, parked the car and headed to collect my School in a Bag t-shirt and join with the rest of the team. When I got there everyone so supportive and encouraging that I started to feel happier straight away. By the time the race started I was feeling a bit more confident and ready to go! I think the first mile of any race is always hard while you warm up and find your rhythm, but after that, the next few miles were good; beautiful countryside, fairly gentle terrain and I felt strong! There was wonderful support from fellow runners and spectators, the atmosphere was wonderful. My husband, children and some friends were at Montacute House, cheering me on, which was absolutely fantastic. I had to stop and tie my shoe at around the 8 mile mark, and stopping suddenly made my head spin slightly! Getting going again, I found the remaining miles much, much harder and just as much a mental battle as a physical one. I ached, I hurt, and I felt a long way from the finish line!! There are some very steep, long hills and winding suburban streets in the last few miles and it felt really challenging. I thought I might be sick, or cry, and I told myself I’d never run ever again, all the way to the end! However the last stretch through the Quedam to the finish was amazing and the feeling of running through the middle of that crowd, with everyone cheering was indescribable.

    I couldn’t believe it when I got to the finish line and saw the clock; 1:59:11. I had run a sub 2 hour half marathon and knocked a whole 5 minutes off of last year’s time! I honestly wasn’t expecting to do well, so it was a real shock to realise that I’d knocked it out of the park!! The reality of that moment didn’t sink in for ages!


    Naomi at the finish line!

    Finishing the race, I went straight to the School in a Bag stand to chat to the other runners and everyone was just buzzing! I’ll never forget that feeling, it was epic!

    As it turns out, I’d not only underestimated myself, I’d also massively underestimated my family and friends and their generosity. I’d assumed that no one would want to sponsor me without some sort of incentive, but I was wrong! I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people who donated money directly through my Facebook link, genuinely overwhelmed. People who I hardly know and who I wouldn’t necessarily have expected have been so wonderful, not only sponsoring me but also sending beautiful messages and huge amounts of support and congratulations.

    The whole School in a Bag half marathon experience has been surprisingly humbling in many ways. I have smashed my own expectations of myself and grown in confidence, which feels amazing. I have been so very touched by the generosity and support of the people I know. If that wasn’t enough, I also feel proud to have raised in the region of £230 (current total- money still coming in!) for School in a Bag. I keep thinking of the children whose lives will be changed through the work of this amazing charity and it that is so special. The training wasn’t easy, the race was seriously hard work and my legs have felt absolutely ruined this week, but it was worth it! Would I do it again? In a heart beat!


    Naomi – from all of us at SIAB, you are a complete legend and we can’t thank you enough for running and raising money for us :). If you’d like to sponsor Naomi’s efforts, you can still do so on her fundraising page here

    Also to the rest of the runners that ran for us, raising much-needed funds – you are ALL amazing!

  • School in a Bag 6:53 pm on February 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No.29: Help us reach 100,000 SchoolBags by the end of 2018! 

    School in a Bag have set an ambitious target for 2018.  Here is our Founder and CEO, Luke Simon, to explain more about it, and how you might be able to help us:

    Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 19.36.45

    I would like to take you on a little trip down memory lane….cast your minds back to October 30th 2015, when the team at School in a Bag hosted a Thai Dinner at Home Farm to celebrate the fact that in our 10th year as a charity, we had reached the milestone of having raised our first £1,000,000! At the time, we had delivered 55,000 SchoolBags to children in 27 different countries.

    As we basked in pride and with huge amounts of gratitude for the amazing loyal fundraisers, volunteers and supporters, we set ourselves the ambitious target of hitting two new milestones by the end of 2018:

    1: To reach our second million

    2: To reach 100,000 SchoolBags

    Well, I am pleased to say that we are on course…but the 100,000 SchoolBags by the end of 2018 has now become the core focus of this year and with Spring around the corner (it is -2 degrees outside and snow is forecast tomorrow here in Somerset), it is now time for us to shout about it so that hopefully, collectively, you can all help us strive to reach our target.

    So where are we with out current SchoolBag and Country total right now? Drum roll please….

    83,361 SchoolBags to children in 39 Countries….dun, dun, daaaahhh.

    I know what you are all thinking….in 28 months they have funded 28,361 SchoolBags and in the remaining 10 months of 2018 they still have to fund a further 16,639 SchoolBags to reach their target. That is rather ambitious!

    Well, it is…but, our SchoolBag total is only ever shown as the number of SchoolBags that have actually been distributed to children, not the number that have been funded and I am very happy to say that we have an impressive 3,809 SchoolBags currently in country waiting for distribution within the next few months. Take these off the amount we need to fund and the total becomes 12,830. Much more manageable, right?

    Well yes…but there is no doubt that we need to have a big year…our biggest yet in order for us to arrive at that magic six figure number by the year end! But we are confident that through our wonderful supporters we will be able to get there. That being said, there are two things that would undoubtedly stand us in good stead and we are striving to try and bring these to fruition…

     1: Support from the Corporate/Commercial Sector.

    We do currently have some excellent corporate support but we know that there are some amazing amounts of money to be raised by businesses fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and School in a Bag is such a bright and visual way for companies to get involved. Not only do they have the chance to pack the SchoolBags they have funded but because each SchoolBag is numbered, companies also have the opportunity to see exactly where their SchoolBags have been sent and who received them. To see exactly how a corporate partnership with School in a Bag can work please click here. If your company would like to support School in a Bag to help us reach the 100,000 please email: luke.simon@schoolinabag.org

     2: A Celebrity Patron

    This is something we have been discussing for years and in fits and starts, we have tried to make contact with celebrities via different methods – hand written letters, direct tweets, emails to agents etc but sadly to NO avail. As a team, we are in constant discussion about who would be a great ‘fit’ for School in a Bag but ultimately, we are all in agreement that the key component about having a celebrity patron would be that they endorse what we do and promote us amongst their circles and media outlets to help raise our profile. So, if any of you happen to be Chris Martin’s music teacher, Ben Fogle’s Scout leader or Minnie Driver’s driver (we’ve heard she may now be available!) we would love to hear from you…after you have sold School in a Bag to them of course!

    Thank you in anticipation – here’s to the next 10 months and surpassing the 100,000 SchoolBag milestone…and in the process, if we can reach this, we’ll also crack the £2,000,000 barrier.

    Luke Simon

    Founder & CEO, School in a Bag

    • Jennifer Harrison Bailey 11:40 am on March 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I aim to fund at least 10 bags this year – hope it will be more. Partly from my knitting but also through easyfundraising. A few pence here and a few there from online purchases soon add up.

  • School in a Bag 1:55 pm on December 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , charity music festival, , Early Bird, earlybird, , , , festival goers, Glastonbury, happy, , June, , musicians, , , , tickets,   

    Home Farm Fest Earlybird tickets, and the future of the festival 

    Next year’s Home Farm Fest will be no different in many ways; still the second week of June, still School in a Bag’s biggest annual fundraiser, still a little gem on the festival circuit, still a weekend full of fantastic music, lots of fun and a brilliant place to come with family and friends…

    HFF13 Earlybird tickets on sale now!

    HFF13 Earlybird tickets on sale now! Click image to buy them…


    What is changing though (apart from the music line-up so we can introduce you to some more amazing musical talent, some additions here and there and a few tweaks to make general improvements), is that we have come up against the beast that is VAT. What that means is unfortunately and very regrettably, our tickets prices have to increase in order for us to be able to pay the bill, and whilst we are doing all we can do keep them as low as possible (to the point where we, the charity, won’t be making any more money from 2017’s ticket prices compared to 2018’s), there will be more than our usual £5-ish annual increase.

    Soooo, what does that mean for us and you?

    Well we hope that this is understood by you, as a festival goer, and that we as a charity can’t do anything about it, but also that you are able to keep supporting us as you have done in the past. We rely heavily on the funds Home Farm Fest brings in to support our charity, School in a Bag, and without it, we will suffer the consequences.

    Although it takes months of hard work and a lot of people giving up their time too make it happen, it is something we all love doing and we know from feedback that you love it too!

    As a little bit of compensation to this news, we’d like to make you fully aware that you can get your Earlybird tickets at THIS year’s prices, and will be saving yourself a few more quid than usual by doing so! We have moved the very popular ticket portal, Eventbrite, rather than through our own in-house database, as we get to use a system that is being used worldwide and proven itself to be hugely affective, we get 24 hour support (which we’re hoping we won’t need to use too much!) , but, we are in control of the information that goes out to you, the customer, we get to update it as and when we need to, and we get lots of information back that we can use to help make your ticket-buying experience as smooth and easy as possible.

    All that’s left really, is to encourage you to get your tickets before 11.30pm on 31st December, get all you friends and family to come along too, and enjoy what really is the party of the Summer! If you need any more nudging to get them, or haven’t been before – maybe you’re hesitant as you’ve got young children who have never been, well this is THE perfect first festival for families as it’s not a vast expanse of field after field, our licence finishes at midnight so music isn’t carrying on until the early hours at high volume, and if you’re local and don’t fancy camping, it’s really easy to pop home to sleep and then come back the next day – our car parking field is next to the entrance.

    Oh, and there’s no Glastonbury in 2018 so why not try us instead?! :)

    Thank you to everyone who supports us year after year, we love seeing the regulars, and of course welcoming newbies too and making Home Farm Fest what it is. We can’t thank the musicians enough for giving up their time for free, and all those who volunteer before, during and after the festival too to make it happen. You’re all awesome!

    You can get your tickets HERE

    We hope to see you in June!
    The Home Farm Fest team x

    Ps If the festival toilet situation is holding you back from coming along, then fear not, as we have our very own Poo Patrol team – three of the nicest toilet cleaners you’re ever likely to meet and possibly the cleanest festival toilets you’re ever likely to use!!

    The HFF Poo Patrol team. From L-R: Luke, Jules and Darren

    The HFF Poo Patrol team. From L-R: Luke, Jules and Darren

    Please allow to be introduced to Luke (actually School in a Bag’s Founder & CEO), Jules (a teacher, when he’s not cleaning toilets) and Darren (the Mayor of Yeovil!!) – no job too big for these fine men, they’ve even been know to help retrieve ‘lost’ phones from the portable loos – although please don’t make this a habit as the phones don’t work so well after…and one last tip, don’t shake their hands if they’re wearing their big red gloves…!!


  • School in a Bag 2:12 pm on December 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apple Music, , Chiang Mai, Child, , , December, , International Schools, iTunes, Piers Simon Appeal, Prem Tinsulanonda International School, , Spotify, Thailand, The Odd Gods   

    *CORRECTION* SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No.27: School in a Bag has its own Charity Music Single 

    One of the things I love about working in the charity sector is the unexpected – each and every day there is always the potential for someone or something to pop in to our School in a Bag life – it is what makes running a charity really exciting.  Well, this is exactly what happened on October 10th at 4.01am when a message popped into my Messenger inbox.  Who would have thought that almost 13 years on, School in a Bag has managed to bag (pardon the pun) a first and the inspiration has come from the roots of our inception in Thailand….

    Hi Luke, 

    This is Michelle Ring in Chiang Mai in Thailand. We know each other from Prem International School (where I, Luke, worked from 2004 – 2007). Both my girls went there, Danielle and Frances.  I hope you are well.

    I have been watching with interest your charity Piers Simon Appeal/School in a Bag and love the work you do.  I manage my husbands band, The Odd Gods, here in Chiang Mai. All of their music is original and we have a song that is now in its final mixing stage called ‘Child’.  I’m sending you the rough mix so you can listen to it and then if possible, are you available sometime today or tomorrow to chat more about the song ‘Child’ being used to raise money for School in a Bag? We have over 17,000 fans on Facebook so we can reach a wide audience.

    We are looking at a release date at the end of November or the 1st week in December so I really need to get the logistics sorted as soon as possible.  We would like the song to raise funds for your charity for 12 months from its release date and for each online sale of the song, 50% will go to School in a Bag.

    I look forward to hearing from you.  Love to the family.


    How amazing is that?  Well today is the day that we can start the promotion of the single ‘Child’ by The Odd Gods which is due for official release on Saturday December 9th.  Here is a little teaser to whet your appetite…

    Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 14.35.31

    Click to Play Video














    ‘Child’ will be available to purchase from iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify  and many more outlets – we will post a full list of these with a link to purchase the single on Saturday December 9th.

    Huge thanks must go to Michelle and the band members from The Odd Gods for choosing to support School in a Bag through the single.  It is a wonderfully catchy song that would make an excellent Christmas present…and who knows, The Odd Gods may even make a guest appearance at Home Farm Fest 13 0n June 8/9/10 2018??

    “Let them be a child…”

    Luke – Founder and CEO





  • School in a Bag 6:10 pm on November 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Can you help us at our annual Big Tesco Bag Pack 23rd December?! 

    If you can spare a couple of hours for our (really) big 18-hour Bag Pack in Tesco Extra, Yeovil on Saturday 23rd December, then please let us know! We need over 160 volunteers to make it happen during the hours of 6am-midnight, especially the early morning (6am-10am) and the evening (from 6pm-midnight). Bring family members along too and get in the festive spirit in a more unusual way and start your Christmas off having helped a local charity – in the words of Tesco ‘Every little helps‘  :)

    You can find out more about the event and sign-up to it here - any questions please email events@schoolinabag.org or call the office Monday-Friday on: 01935 849160

    Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 12.42.51


    Thank you!

    The School in a Bag team

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