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  • School in a Bag 11:01 am on March 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fundraising, , 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 4:26 pm on October 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bristol, , , fundraising, , Quedam, , , shopping, , , university,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 26: The School in a Bag team is growing! 

    The team at School in a Bag is small, and whilst we are able to produce a lot of good things: the amount of SchoolBags being distributed every year into lots of different countries, running lots of events to raise more money (including our very own music festival), presenting to schools, groups and organisations all over the country and running SchoolBag packs, there’s only a certain limit to just the amount we can do in a week! We’ve been lucky enough to get Hannah on-board for the last few weeks and she’s an asset to the team already – and lowers our average age in the office dramatically too ;). Here’s an introduction by Hannah to her involvement in the charity, and what she’s up to:

    I first got involved in School in a Bag in 2013. I’m now 5 years older, on the other side of Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol, and the charity still can’t seem to shake me off.

    Back in 2012, my mum was a teaching assistant at a Primary School in Surrey, and met Luke at charity showcase arranged by the council. She was sold; she had the school choose it as their charity that year, and insisted I contact Luke to ask about work experience. I had always wanted to work within the charity sector and at that point, School in a Bag was just starting to gain some momentum so it was pretty good timing. As I was the first work experience placement the charity had ever taken on, it was new for the both of us. I spent a week as Luke’s shadow, quickly learnt the ropes and discovered that charity work was what I wanted to do with my future. Cheers mum.

    I kept in close contact with Luke through the years. Between then and now, you may have seen me in the Merchandise tent at Home Farm Festival, selling hoodies, T-shirts and packing SchoolBags between eating cake, and watching some of the fab music. In July, I graduated from Uni with a degree in Philosophy, focusing my studies human rights and ethics. After a summer off, I joined the team on the 1st October for a three month placement.

    CREDIT - CuriousByGeorgePhotography 51

    Hannah – 2nd from the right at this year’s Home Farm Fest (CREDIT – CuriousByGeorgePhotography)

    My main role is running the School in a Bag shop in the Quedam Shopping Centre, in the charity’s home town of Yeovil. Following from the success of last year’s retail stint, where during just two months, a whopping 555 SchoolBags were funded and packed, the team have been lucky enough to be granted a shop by the Quedam for a second year. We’ve changed location; now next door to CEX and, thankfully for Luke, that little bit closer to Starbucks! You’ll find me here during the shop’s opening hours of 10am-4pm, Tuesdays to Sundays until the 4th December.

    There’s colouring for children, we’re selling Camon Bears and SIAB Jute bags, and wonderful knitted mice by one of our top supporters, Jennifer. Please, come in and pack a SchoolBag, have a chat and learn more about the charity. If you’re struggling to think of Christmas presents, for just £20, you can even pack a SchoolBag on behalf of a loved one – a wonderful, trackable gift for that relative who has everything…

    All the bags packed in the School in a Bag shop will be sent to the Philippines, and distributed by one of our charity partners, the Purple Community Fund. PCF operate in the slum areas of large cities, and focus on improving lives of children living and working on rubbish dumps. They provide children with the vital education they need to escape their situation, in community schools made out of shipping containers. You can help us make a difference to these children’s lives by funding and packing a SchoolBag in the Quedam shop.

    I’ll be finishing my three month placement with a bang, at the Big 18hr Bag Pack in Tesco Extra, Yeovil, on the 23rd December. We are always eager for more volunteers to help – some come for an hour or two and some are there for up to six! If you can spare some time that day and want to get involved, please contact the charity at events@schoolinabag.org as we’d love to have you on-board!

    Having come to the end of my own formal educational journey in July, I am often reflective on how lucky I was. I know that I would be in a very different place without it, and although I’m pretty certain I won’t be going back for any more studying (100 % certain.), I am confident that if I did I would have the support and educational resources to do so. Globally, there are millions of children and young adults who don’t. I feel so grateful to be a part of a charity which is working to lift children out of poverty through education, and give hope to their futures. All this through one little, red bag.

    SIAB shop 2017

    Our School in a Bag shop’s SchoolBag Wall!

    SIAB shop 2 2017

    People packing their own SchoolBag in our shop :)

    If you’d like to read more about the charity, please visit the website, or visit our Facebook page – or I hope to see you in the shop soon!

  • School in a Bag 2:31 pm on July 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beavers, Brownies, , Cubs, education, England, fundraisers, fundraising, Guides, learning, , Schools, Scouts, , , , world,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 24: The impact of schools fundraising for SIAB and the effect on them 

    Our Blog in a Bag posts are often light-hearted round-ups of what we, or other fundraisers have been up to which are great fun to either write ourselves, or receive from others. This is no different from the respect that every school we’ve worked with this year has surpassed themselves with the amounts they’ve raised, and we’ve had great fun working with every one through presentations, SchoolBag packs, and really getting to know them too! Lis Foy is our School Liaison Officer, and here’s her recap of the academic year:

    The school Summer holidays are here! This has given us time to reflect on another brilliant year’s support from the many schools all over the UK who have supported us this past academic year, and just how much they have raised for School in a Bag. The total amount raised from schools alone is £19,503, which is equivalent to 975 SchoolBags – therefore giving nearly 1000 more children around the world the chance to better their own education, by children of the same age.

    Our aim is to work as closely as possible with schools from going in and presenting, helping them through their fundraising journey including promoting events and fundraisers through our own social media channels, to going back into the schools once we know how much has been raised for a SchoolBag pack. For the children to experience packing the SchoolBags themselves and knowing that the next child who opens the SchoolBag will be the child who receives it, is a pretty moving experience for all ages. And the best bit of all – the school always get to track where in the world their SchoolBags have gone through our unique tracking system on our website. How amazing for children to be able to discuss with their classmates and families about the country where the very SchoolBags they’ve funded and packed have gone, and some schools even do projects on the country to find out more about it leading to further learning and strengthening their fundraising efforts. *Please note that presentations and SchoolBag packs aren’t achievable for all schools as it depends on location and amount raised, but we always do our best to make it happen!

    For us, it’s all about having great fun while FUNdraising and we see this right across all schools, whatever their age! Some schools use our help to get them started, using ideas we can pass on from past successful fundraisers, and others come up with their own unique ideas that we love to hear about – and boy have we heard all sorts of ways money has been raised! From cake sales to sponsored events and from teachers getting their head’s shaved to head teachers running marathons – we even had young Freddie from St Olaves school in York climb Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain) in terrible conditions to raise £140 and that’s no mean feat, especially at such a young age!

    It’s not just schools, but Sunday Schools, Cubs and Beavers, Brownie and Guide groups, International Student groups, and childminding groups – and at the other end of the scale we went to a lovely lunch with Ilminster Grammar Old Girls Association who made a donation of £260. Stawley School were inspired by our Ambassador Josef to raise £200 and there have been several teacher conferences I’ve spread the SIAB word at too including the NASUWT conference in Manchester where I met lots of lovely teachers ,and we’ve already had support from some of those I met.

    It seems whatever age you are, or whatever group you’re part of, there’s a lot of fun to be had and the trips around the UK have been well worth it. This year we have schools from as far afield as Barcelona and the Isles of Scilly – as well as many local to us schools in Yeovil and the surrounding area. A few travels have included Bedes Prep School in Eastbourne, Egginton School near Derby, Richard Pate School in Cheltenham and not forgetting myself and colleague Zoë travelled to York to pack an amazing 360 SchoolBags St Olaves School after they raised a whopping £7,000! We had a brilliant day with the pupils and staff who made us feel extremely welcome.

    We want to say a BIG THANK YOU to every school which has supported School in a Bag. It is a real pleasure to be able to visit schools and experience first-hand the enthusiasm for the charity. Thank you to all the teachers and school staff for your support – we know you are all really busy and you do an amazing job encouraging the fundraising efforts of the students, often getting involved yourselves. The overwhelming feedback from schools that we get is that everyone enjoys the process of raising funds for SchoolBags and this is evident from the enthusiasm we encounter from students, staff and parents. The children understand the importance for everyone to get an opportunity to learn and what they need to be able to do this. We’ve also had schools join in and help with our fundraisers including our 18-hour Big (Supermarket) Bag Pack at Tesco Extra in Yeovil on the 23rd December. Every year we have great support from students at Preston School and Westfield Academy who helped to raise in excess of £4,000 last year, turning up in their school uniform even during the Christmas holidays to give us hours of their time which is impressive!

    So this is the fun that we’ve had working with schools this year, but I wanted to leave you with feedback from just one of our teachers as she sums up what raising money for us meant to her school:

    Lisa Frost, a teacher from High Ham C of E Primary School in Somerset, said this about her school’s experience: “Working with School in a Bag was an invaluable experience for our school. The simple concept with a clear message, raise £20 and you have a SchoolBag, was an incentive for all ages. The School in a Bag team presented the charity in a clear, child-friendly way and provided ideas for fundraising and support throughout. The children were fully motivated with a clear understanding of what they were aiming for. Their fundraising ideas were imaginative; bad hair day, music concert and fill the jar with coins. The bag pack day was an amazing experience for the children and one that will have a lasting memory. It was a really pleasure to watch the child pack a SchoolBag for other children knowing that their fundraising was helping those less fortunate.”

    If you are a teacher, a Governor, a parent or anything to do with a school and you would like to get involved with fundraising for School in a Bag, then please get in touch as I’d love to hear from you! Email me: schools@schoolinabag.org or call the office and ask to speak to me, Lis Foy, on 01935 849160

    Have a great summer!

    SIAB Schools Poster

    Schools 6IMG_4784IMG_4785IMG_4786Schools 8Schools 7

    Schools 2

  • School in a Bag 9:27 am on April 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , fundraising, , line-up, , , , , ,   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 22: Our Charity Festival and what it means to us 

    Running a charity is hard. You’re constantly trying to come up with new ways to fundraise and capture the imagination of people to part with their hard earned cash. 2006 saw the first Piers Simon Concert, held in memory of Piers on the family farm where the charity is still based. It was in collaboration with popular Yeovil band Storm and there were three bands on one stage during one afternoon/evening – it raised £8,500. Skip 10 more festivals and over £253,000 raised and we’ve now a three day festival, Home Farm Fest, with 6 stages and over 120 bands playing – quite a difference!

    Home Farm Fest has become School in a Bag‘s biggest annual fundraiser. In the last three years alone it has gone from raising £24,000 in 2014 to £46,000 in 2015 and £60,000 last year. The growth is due to a rise in popularity both of musicians wanting to perform, but also people wanting to come along. It’s a very cheap festival (only £45 for an adult Weekender ticket this year), has great music across the 6 stages as well as a large Children’s Area, a Market Area, lots of individual attractions and some great drinking establishments!

    This year’s line-up of musicians is by far our biggest to date, and doesn’t even include our new Busk Stop in our Village Green area that will have people playing all weekend too, in fact not just singers but poets, spoken word and dancers. It’s really exciting to be a part of the development and know that we can fundraise through a completely different way to the more common bike rides, marathons and such like – not that we’re belittling these at all because they are all huge achievements often putting people way out of their comfort zone where as Home Farm Fest is a way for families and friends to come together to enjoy a weekend of good music and fun, yet still raise money for charity.

    We’ve also developed in other ways this year – we’ve introduced e-ticketing which will save us a LOT of money on postage, we’ve getting durable plastic Collectors’ pint cups that will have this year’s Home Farm Fest logo on and help us with our mission of being more green as there will be less waste. We’ve got a new one-way entrance and exit to the festival to alleviate a natural bottleneck we have on-site, but also to help with the flow of traffic and noise in the village. Basically, it’s growing.

    We’re still in our infancy though and as a core team of only four who run both the charity and the festival, it can get pretty crazy at times! We have a fantastic committee of people who help out with running certain areas of the festival and take it on-board in their own spare time, for free. Without them we simply wouldn’t have the manpower to do it all and the festival, and therefore the amount raised would suffer. We also have incredible support from local businesses who donate huge amounts to us: stages, lighting, sound equipment, toilets, marquees, generators, etc etc that means we can get spend to  minimum and profits high. We are so very grateful for all of this time and effort that’s poured into the festival so a BIG thank you to all concerned.

    So back to this year and the music. Here are all the musicians who are performing over the three days and the stages they’re on:Home Farm Fest 12 line-up


    If you’d like to come and join in with this year’s festival, tickets can be bought via our website: http://www.homefarmfest.co.uk – we hope to see you in 6 weeks time, 9th-11th June!


    The School in a Bag and Home Farm Fest team

  • School in a Bag 3:34 pm on August 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3 Peaks, Ben Nevis, Challenge, Chard, event, fundraising, Lake District, , Scafell Pike, , Scotland, Snowdon, trekking, , Wales, walking   

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 18: The challenge of climbing the UK’s 3 highest peaks… 

    This month’s (slightly late) blog is from a great friend and supporter of the charity, Sarah, who took part in our 3 Peaks Challenge earlier in the month. It wasn’t without its ups and downs but here’s Sarah’s side of it and how she got on…

    Hi School in a Bag supporters, my name is Sarah and I’ve been asked to write this month’s blog. Reason being that I have recently completed the 3 Peaks Challenge with the School in a Bag team.

    I first encountered the Piers Simon Appeal a few years ago when I was invited to the launch of School in a Bag as a member of the Rotary Club of Crewkerne District at which I packed a school bag number 3880. Since then I have become far more involved in the charity firstly they were my chosen charity when I was President in 2012/13 and this was the first year that my Rotary club were involved in volunteering at Home Farm Fest. Since then we have helped every year since taking over the car parking duties and are very proud of the neat lines of parked cars!

    Then 18 months ago I joined the School in a Bag team as a volunteer helping in the office. I am usually there every other Wednesday and help with the database. So some days I’m inputting the children’s names who have received SchoolBags or adding their photos. Others I might be in the barn (which is always a bit chilly!) packing up equipment for the SchoolBags. The guys in the office are a great bunch and I look forward to my time there. N.B Sarah does so much when she’s here! She helps setting up events, getting other bits ready for us, helping out across all aspects of what we do – oh, and makes a great cuppa :)

    I took up walking a few years ago when my best mate Caroline decided for her annual leave that she would go to Nepal and walk to Everest Base Camp and I became her training pal. Caroline is also a member of Rotary and this year she is our President and one of her chosen charities is School in a Bag. We had been to a School in a Bag event at Home Farm and seen the presentation of their recent fundraising efforts showing 2015 3 Peaks and between us decided it was something we wanted to take part in this year.

    We signed up not long after Christmas and then our training began. We both live in Chard and most Tuesday evenings we walked and tried to find lots of hills (being the highest town in Somerset it wasn’t too hard)! My husband is a member Chard Road Runners who run on a Tuesday and we would meet them for a pint after our walk, where lots of them gave us support and guidance on training for our forthcoming challenge. Thursdays neither of us work so we would do a longer walk, again looking for somewhere steep to walk up, often at the Jurassic Coast. Caroline’s a bit of a gadget girl and found an app that gave the gradient of where we had walked in a colour graph, so as we were walking we were always trying to guess what colour we were doing – usually we were estimating it was steeper than it was! Then as a keen cyclist I had a new gadget that gave the gradient so we could see as we were walking how steep the hills were. Nowhere around here was steep enough in comparison to Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon.

    So 4th August came around really quickly, thinking we had ages to get ready and fit for it!! And then the beginning of the week I came down with a chest infection which being asthmatic wasn’t too good and my inhalers weren’t doing the job, so after a visit to the doctor antibiotics and steroids were prescribed. But with two nights of not sleeping before setting off for Fort William I was starting to get a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the challenge. I really didn’t want to let Caroline down, and we had already been sponsored by a lot of people so I didn’t want to say to them that I had failed. So I made the decision that I would go and try and if my lungs decided I couldn’t do it I would listen to them.

    So the first day of our challenge was travelling up to Fort William. We all met at Home Farm at 5.30 am and were on the road by 6. It was great to meet the team. There was 8 of us plus driver Henry Simon. Melody was completing her 5th 3 Peaks, Jamie his 3rd. Brother and sister George (Georgina) and Rob had signed up only a month beforehand. Then there was Luke and Zoë from the charity. The drive took a long time in the mini-bus, we had a few stops in service stations and each time I “checked-in” on Facebook so that my husband and family could see our progress. 10 hours later we reached Loch Lomond which was stunning! From there the last two hours flew by as the scenery was so spectacular. We were nearly there – I was getting more and more nervous!!

    We got to the Youth Hostel about 9 and after finding our dorm, making beds we met in the dining room for a briefing with Luke. Now I’m used to a very fun and jokey Luke from my days in the office at School in a Bag and he was then very, very serious showing us the OS map of where we were walking and how hard it was going to be and that we had to be careful in a few places where there were steep drops especially if it was bad weather. This was the point at which I started to cry!  I am a bit emotional to say the least and I was starting to panic that I just wouldn’t be able to cope with my coughing and breathlessness. Needless to say I didn’t sleep much that night either nor did Caroline on the bunk below me with me coughing and making the whole bunk bed shake. So that made 3 nights of not sleeping and I was about to do the biggest challenge of my life and walk up Ben Nevis, (oh and Scafell Pike and Snowdon)!! No need to worry about sleeping through the alarm at 5am, I was awake and couldn’t wait to start so that I would know if I could cope. Packing up in a small dorm trying not to wake the others sleeping in there was a task and a half. We had a quick breakfast and then met in the car park for our warm up at 6am, ready to start walking at 6.30. Only 5 miles to the top, I had taken my inhalers, steroids and Berocca, walking boots on, poles at the right length – we were off!


    Sarah (on the right) and Caroline at the summit of Nevis!

    Well the first part was STEEP! Lots and lots of steps and over 30% gradient. We had several stops at which point Caroline and I ate sausage rolls, fig rolls and dates to keep our bodies fuelled. Everyone was supporting each other I was managing fine. The views were so spectacular we had to stop to look at them often and with George being a photographer and Caroline with her camera capturing the scenery. So it took 3 ½ hours to get to the top! Guess what I cried! Rang my hubby and got a bit emotional! At the top it was clear so we could see the views. It was quite cold so we all wrapped up warm, my down jacket felt so cosy at 1345 meters above sea. We had a few photos with the School in a Bag banner and Camon Bear. Then to go down and it was a bit misty for a little while. We stopped a few times going down for rests too, down is just as hard as going up especially for those ex-hockey players with achy knees Caroline, Zoë and George. Each time we stopped my legs started to shake uncontrollably. We got to the bottom after 7 hours, 3 ½ up and 3 ½ down. We had done our first peak!   I had made it, I knew then that I could do Scafell and Snowdon. I was chuffed to bits to say the least. But Caroline had struggled with her knee on the descent so it was her turn to be worried about whether she could keep going.


    Sarah and Caroline at the summit of Scafell Pike!

    So we were then in the minibus again, this time on the way to the Lake District. Lots of time for updating Facebook with photos of our walk. My legs every now and then started their shaking much to the amusement of everyone else. I had taken with me a wooden massage roller so with that and a bit of stretching on the bus kept me amused for the journey and a bit of a sleep! Again more service station check-ins, one where we ate our evening meal and had our briefing for the next day and I managed not to cry this time. Some awards were handed out - I had the winner’s rosette to wear for the next day. We eventually arrived at Wasdale at 11 pm. We’d been up since 5am so getting into bed was bliss. And I slept!

    Next morning was another early one. The sun was out and we had our second peak to conquer. And after more steroids, Berocca and yesterday’s success I was ready and eager to start. Again we had our warm up to do, thanks to Luke we looked like we were morris dancers! Scafell was quite different to Ben Nevis, we had still more steps but a lot of large cobbles to walk on which I’m sure would be very slippery when wet. We had a river to cross and I had visions of me missing the stepping stones and ending up with wet feet. By now the group were starting to gel more. Rob had won the pink helmet of personality and along with this honour he had to convince people it was his birthday and was getting a few high-fives from other walkers. As we got higher it got cooler and the clouds were getting closer so the final push was in mist and the terrain changed to large flat scree-like rocks and was very steep. I was so glad to have my poles to help. At the summit 978 meters again it was cold and this time misty so we didn’t get any views. More photos to take as a group and in our pairs. Again tears from me, however this time it was because we were scattering the ashes of my husband’s uncle who had passed away in February and had been a keen walker and loved his time in the Lake District. Going down Zoë, Caroline and George were struggling with their knees however George found that if she crouched down a little it eased the pain but looked hilarious! It was so much harder descending, thankfully having poles eased the pressure a bit. We got to the bottom after 6 hours of walking. This time my legs weren’t quite so shakey. Think they were getting used to it!


    And the two at the summit of Snowdon!

    So we were on the bus again. This time on our way to Wales. When we got to the hostel the weather was horrendous and we had seen the forecast of gales and heavy rain for the next day. Were we all going to be blown off the side of the mountain? Were we all going to get soaked and me end up with pneumonia? That night Luke, Zoë and Melody cooked a fantastic meal for us all of spaghetti bolognaise at the hostel. We again had our briefing and presentations, and I had the honour of being awarded the pink helmet of personality. Probably because I had been telling fellow walkers that it was Rob’s birthday and that was why he was wearing the pink helmet.

    Thankfully the next morning the rain had cleared and we set off in grey skies, knowing that we would soon be in the clouds. It was very windy so how lucky was I that I had the pink helmet to hold my hat on! I started off my second birthday of the year thinking would I get as many high-fives as Rob, who would notice I was wearing a stupid hat, would my neck and shoulders hurt like mad from wearing it all day! Hey I was like the Queen having two birthdays! All the way up we were passing people and I was getting high-fives, even had a hug and kiss from one person! We walked up Pyg Track which in places was very steep with rocks to scramble up at times. When we got to the summit 1085 meters it was blowing a gale and so climbing the last few steps to the top were a bit tricky and after the mandatory team photo we went into the café. Oh and I cried again with the relief of summiting our third peak!   The café was packed and the queue was almost the length of the building. Whilst we were there drinking coffee our group decided to sing Happy Birthday to me, and then the whole café decided to join in – and to think I’d already had my birthday back at the end of May! Coming down again was very tricky with the terrain very steep, this time on the Miners Track and scrambling across rocks in the misty rain was a bit tricky. It was nice to get out of the cloud cover and feel a bit drier. We stopped at the first lake for a bit of stone skimming, then the last part was just a gentle amble back to the hostel, where Henry was waiting for us with champagne!

    That night we went to the pub down the road for our gala dinner, me still wearing the pink helmet, but all of us in our 3 Peaks T-shirts. The mood was jubilant that we had done it, we had all conquered the 3 Peaks. Luke and Zoë presented us each with a bottle of champagne! A lot of laughter and a great evening to celebrate a great weekend!


    The stunning Ben Nevis


    Beautiful view of Snowdon

    So we had done it, between Caroline and myself we have raised just over £2200 for such a worthy cause and knowing that this will fund 147 bags that will go to help children get a better education is definitely worth all the blood, sweat and tears of not just the weekend but the training beforehand. And would I do it again …… yes, I enjoyed it so much!

    If you’ve enjoyed Sarah’s encounter of her 3 Peaks Challenge and think you’d like to give it a go then let us know! Next year’s event will be running 3rd-7th August – t really is possible to do with 11 months of training and raising the fundraising totals too and be great to have you on-board. Please email us: events@schoolinabag.org to let us know, or to ask any questions/concerns you may have.

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