Teachers don PE kit to raise vital funds in marathon

published on 30 Sep 2021

Two teachers from Laurance Haines School in Watford are joining Team Sally Army to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday.

Headteacher Seb Gray and Assistant Head Jo Ball are aiming to raise £5,000 for The Salvation Army in Watford after forming strong links with the corps (church) over the past few years.

Throughout the pandemic, the relationship grew stronger as Watford corps  supported families at the school and in the community with food parcels, housing support, and pastoral care.

Seb Gray & Jo Ball in a Sally Army Striders running top in front of Laurance Haines School in Watford
Seb Gray and Jo Ball will be running for Team Sally Army at Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon.

Seb Gray said: “The corps have been a huge support for our school community over the last couple of years. It really took off during lockdown, but we’d built a relationship together before then, and they meet families’ needs in lots of different ways.

“They have become really proud partners for us throughout the pandemic, and we’ve really enjoyed working with Captain Mark and Grace (Scoulding). They have been advocates for what we do as a school, and as a result, we’ve been able to support them. We’re really proud to be able to represent them on Sunday.”

The school have organised different fundraising events, including a ‘Break the Rules’ day, pupils running a daily mile, bake sales and a staff bingo night, to help the pair reach their target.

They have become really proud partners for us throughout the pandemic. We're really proud to be able to represent them...
Seb Gray, Headteacher at Laurance Haines School, Watford

Despite running a marathon before, Seb is a self-proclaimed ‘non-runner’ and vowed to never run one again. Jo runs frequently to improve her mental health, and Sunday will be her first full marathon.

She said: “Running helps to keep my mind in check. I’ve run three half marathons before, but I’ve always had the ambition to run a full marathon, so to be able to cross it off my bucket list, and run for The Salvation Army, is great. However, I’m going to run it and then immediately retire from marathon running!

“Seb and I have done quite a bit of training together after school. We’ll get through what we need to get through during the day, and we’ll have a target time where we go out and run together. Then on the weekends, we do longer runs and check in with each other to ask how it went.”

Seb Gray & Jo Ball delivering food parcels with Watford Salvation Army
Seb & Jo have previously delivered food parcels to those in need with Watford Salvation Army.

Neither runner is looking to finish the course under a certain time, but Seb explained how there is a bit of rivalry between them and another staff member.

He said: “We have another member of the school team running the marathon for a different charity, and competitiveness is creeping in. Between Jo and myself, we’ve said that for the sake of The Salvation Army we really need to beat the other member of our school team, but in reality, we’d be delighted to finish in around four-and-a-half hours.”

People from Watford corps and the wider Salvation Army are going to be at the event on Sunday to encourage Seb and Jo, and other Team Sally Army runners, and to show their gratitude towards them both.

...I’ve always had the ambition to run a full marathon, so to be able to cross it off my bucket list, and run for The Salvation Army, is great.
Jo Ball, Assistant Headteacher at Laurance Haines School, Watford

Captain Mark Scoulding, church leader in Watford, said: “We are so grateful to Jo and Seb that they have chosen to raise money for our vital work in Watford by running the London Marathon. We’ve been privileged to work together with Laurance Haines School for the past few years, especially throughout lockdown, helping families in whatever way we can.

“We’re going to be waiting around the 20-mile marker on Sunday so that we can cheer them both on and give them a bit of a boost towards the end of the course. It’ll be a really special day and I want to wish them both the very best for the race.”

To donate to Seb & Jo’s Virgin Money London Marathon fundraiser, or to send them an encouraging message, please click here.

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