Bede Academy Blyth Links parkrun Takeover!
Eight weeks of excitable build-up to the ‘Bede Academy Blyth Links parkrun Takeover’ came down to a week of nail-biting torrential downpours and hourly weather forecast-checking throughout the eve of the event. 27% chance of rain… 44%... 80%...! Would the children and families who had signed up to the event in the sunny September sunshine eight weeks prior be deterred when they opened their curtains on Saturday 16th November only to be greeted by ominous skies, rain-spotted windows, wet ground and the prospect of encouraging their young ones around a 5 kilometre course?
The Bede Academy staff emerged on the seafront bright and early wrapped in winter woollies and waterproofs to join the dedicated regular team of core volunteers for Blyth Links parkrun. All hopefully put on their volunteer hi-vis vests, grabbed their green poms poms and waited. Happily, the undeterred parkrunners, new and old, began to arrive on the brisk promenade and a lovely warm feeling began to emerge! As more and more people arrived, the resilience, determination and sense of community became ever more apparent. The Bede Academy children, families and staff gathered for a team photograph and the warm feeling grew a little more!
At 9:00 the event was underway, and the smiling began! Volunteers and spectators cheered and encouraged the runners, walkers, buggy-pushers and piggy-back riders whole-heartedly and the sense of pride was felt by all. Jackson (6) said, “I clapped lots and cheered my friends, it was fun. My hands were super tired”. As the children spotted familiar faces from their school in a new context they began to wave, shout, smile and even run a little faster! Harrison (7) commented, “I enjoyed running with my family. It was fun spotting all the teachers on the way round. I felt good at the finish”. Nicholas (4) commented, “I was running super-fast!” Lola (4) said, “I enjoyed it, I liked running through the end”. Seeing children and their families enjoying the magic of parkrun together was a wonderful sight and created a very special, heart-warming atmosphere! As the rain came down, the smiles for many seemed to grow bigger – if you’re going to take on a challenge, why not make it a big one with friends! Harrison (6) said “it was good because it was fun running and I liked seeing my friends there”.
Once the first runner came through the finish funnel, they came thick and fast! Experienced parkrunners blazing the trail for over 100 youngsters - some aged only 4 years old completing the course on foot, not forgetting Bede’s youngest 3 year old students being pushed in buggies by determined loved ones. All travelling the same distance, all trying their best, all battling the bracing Northumberland weather, all with the same sense of accomplishment. From the first runner completing the course in 16:14 to the last through the funnel at 58:30, their achievement was equally amazing! Bede student, Grace (6), regular parkrun volunteer, had the honour of final finisher in her volunteering capacity: “I was helping out and had an important job of ‘Tail-Walking’, it was great!” The efforts of the children and their families did not go unnoticed by regular parkrunners who warmly embraced them into their parkrun family and could be heard encouraging them before, during and after the event. Regular Blyth parkrunner, Allan England, said “Well done all the kids from Bede! All the volunteers and supporters were fantastic and there was a fabulous atmosphere!” There have been so many wonderfully positive comments from participants following the event and they are hugely appreciated by all involved.
The parkrunners, volunteers and spectators all headed for well-earned refreshments at Coastline afterwards and the magnitude of what everyone participating had accomplished began to sink in. The power of parkrun is truly amazing. The opportunity to bring communities together in a very special way, whilst giving everyone who laces up their sports shoes in time for that 9:00 start on a Saturday morning, wherever they find themselves, the power to improve their health, well-being and sense of community, whether that be their local community or the parkrunning community. Bede Academy are proud to consider themselves members of both.
Jill Thompson, the Blyth Links parkrun co-director commented that “Blyth Links parkrun was set up for this reason in my eyes and we are so grateful for the effort school staff have put into it! The feedback we have received has been incredible.”
Katherine Peddie, Reception teacher at Bede said, “I loved seeing all the students taking part with such determination and huge smiles on their faces.”
Bethan Harding, Principal (Primary) at Bede, commented: “Fantastic effort Bede Academy! I saw determination from our students like I’ve never seen before! Seeing our students completing the whole circuit in the slashing rain and wind was truly inspirational. They showed they have real character and it was an honour to be part of the wider community for this event.”
Laura Cotterill, another Bede teacher said, “The atmosphere was amazing and helped them all to achieve and push themselves. I am just so proud to be part of it and am keen to do more”.
What a wonderful morning! Thank you to Blyth Links parkrun for making it possible and thank you to all the families who made it so magical. We loved supporting all of you! Look out for more Bede Academy Takeover events in the near future. In the meantime, we hope you’ll be lacing up those shoes for 9:00 for many Saturdays from here on out! Happy parkrunning!
Anna Tweddell, Early Years Lead, Bede Academy