7 January 2020

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Photo: Birkenhead Sixth Form College Principal Mike Kilbride and staff are joined by Maggie's Fundraising Manager Sasha Mathias for the cheque presentation.

Birkenhead Sixth Form College has raised over £10,000 for Maggie’s cancer charity in Clatterbridge over the past year, and plans to try to double that total in 2020.

The money has mainly been raised by the staff body so far, but now the fundraising efforts are spreading to the wider College community.

Maggie’s offers practical and emotional support to both those suffering from cancer and their families and others affected, and the charity was chosen by the College to be the target for fundraising as a number of staff members have benefitted immensely from their services.

The £10,000 target was met through a variety of events and undertakings, from sporting tournaments to building chocolate orange towers, and from overcoming fears to completing quite unbelievable physical challenges.

Art teacher Alan Redfern took it upon himself to run from east to west coast England in July, clocking up 214 miles in just four days, making it a double marathon every 24 hours.

After crossing the finish line at the College and being greeted by a huge number of cheering colleagues, Alan said: “So many factors got me through it. The support from everyone at the College and my family and friends has been amazing. My daughters told me to never give up and keep moving forward, so I’ve had that written on my arm. Whenever I felt like giving up, I just had to look at that. I was never going to let them down.”

Alan crosses the finish line at the College supported by his colleagues

Not content with just eight consecutive marathons, this year Alan is training to complete an even more staggering feat.

Known as the ‘Iron Man’ triathlon, competitors must swim 2.4 miles, then cycle 112 miles and finish off with a marathon. Alan plans to triple these distances. Broken down, the 7.2, 336 and 78.6 mile distances are the equivalent of swimming the length of the River Mersey seven times, cycling to Amsterdam, then running from Wirral to Cardiff.

Alan sets off for his four day challenge in July.

Other physical and sporting triumphs in the name of fundraising for Maggie’s included Sport teacher Pat Riley swimming the Mersey, Principal Mike Kilbride cycling the Tour of Worcester, Head of Film & Media Julie Edwards and Politics teacher Jane Cavanagh taking on the Tour de Mon and a collective staff effort saw the College exercise bikes clocking up the full distance from Maggie’s in Clatterbridge to sister centres in Manchester and Leeds and back again.

Health & Social Care teacher Lynn Edwards’s daughter Haylea completed the ‘Dopey Challenge’ in Disneyland, Florida, where over four days she ran a 5km race followed by a 10km, then a half-marathon and finished with a marathon.

Maths teachers Jo Walsh conquered her extreme fear of heights by walking over a viaduct in North Wales, while Student Engagement Officer Jordyn Layfield organised table tennis and badminton tournaments among the staff to get the competitive juices flowing.

Marketing Officer Kelvin Slesser-Marriott was instrumental throughout the year in coordinating designated fundraising days and staff activities, including the enticing ‘Joker’ weekly raffle where entrants stood to win thousands of pounds while also raising a similar amount for Maggie’s.

Head of English Jon Thorpe catered for the social side of activities with a ‘sharabang’ taking staff around several of the Wirral’s finest watering holes, with his band ‘Swing the Merciless’ entertaining his colleagues in the final venue.

Catering Manager Gail Hosie and Attendance Officer Suzanne Duggan have both contributed delicious and innovative treats and sweets to events throughout the year

Other activities, to name just a few, included Tutor Jen Foden auctioning off some of her very fine artwork, fellow Tutor Nicky Stanaway organising a tombola and proceeds from the College production ‘Psychosis’ also going to the charity.

Principal at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Mike Kilbride, said: “To be able to contribute to the fantastic work that Maggie’s do is actually a very humbling experience. The staff at Birkenhead Sixth Form College have been profoundly moved by the individual stories of such kindness and bravery, and the fact that Maggie’s offers such practical support is what makes it stand out to us as a charity.

“We set our target for the staff body to raise last year, but the College has a whole extended community that we are now inviting to get involved and continue to support such a wonderful cause. Our activities over the last year have brought us closer together, through fun and games, but also through shear admiration for what some amongst us have achieved, not least our Art teacher Alan running 214 miles in four days.

“And there’s more to come!”

Click here to learn more about Maggie’s and the inspiring work that they do.