The Heads Up Challenge hits new heights (but still needs your support)

Today, the total for the Heads Up Challenge, reached a staggering £90,033.16! The initiative was the brainchild of our Headmaster Sid Inglis, who organised the endurance event to raise awareness and funds for mental health charity Place2Be.

Twenty Prep School Headmasters joined Sid in Pembrokeshire at the end of August for the grueling event. Learn more about the inspiration behind his idea, what was involved and where you can still donate.

Where did the idea come from?

“The idea and planning for the challenge started about two years ago in the middle of the summer holidays.  I did some research on the Heads Together campaign, which aims to generate positive change in the national conversation on mental health.  I thought that I could gather some ‘Heads Together’ to raise money for this important cause. 

Sitting under the Heads Together umbrella is ‘Place2be’, which is a fantastic charity that supports children’s mental health, emotional resilience and well-being. Their vision is for all children to have the vital support they need to help them build life-long coping skills, and thrive. 

Every school has the mental health of their pupils and staff at the heart of everything they do. As Heads, we know it’s very important to tackle the stigmas associated with mental health issues head on, and act now to help provide support.”

Working as a Team

“What emerged from the challenge was some tremendous camaraderie and teamwork from all the Heads. We all agreed that it was the best ‘conference’ that we have ever been part of.  Despite what people might have anticipated, there was very little competitiveness among the team, with everyone supporting each other throughout.  We started and finished the challenge together. 

Being Head of a busy school can be a lonely job and to have the opportunity to spend some quality time with like-minded people, while completing a challenge of this sort was very rewarding and truly memorable.  Everyone has agreed that they have entered the new academic year with renewed energy, vigour and enthusiasm.  The benefits of the challenge go well beyond simply raising money for a wonderful charity.”

What did the challenge involve and how was it organised?

“We regularly take our Year 8 boys to Pembrokeshire for their leavers’ trip.  They have a fantastic week at Preseli Venture – an adventure centre offering surfing, kayaking, coasteering and other activities.  A short meeting with Sophie Hurst, the co-founder of Preseli, inspired me to host the challenge there.  The challenge was a 14 hour kayak, cycle and hike from ‘dawn ‘til dusk’.  We kayaked over three miles, the cycle covered 50 miles, and the hike was 12 miles. 

I invited 25 Prep Schools Heads to join me. Fortunately, I managed to persuade 20 of them to be part of the challenge.  Their response was brilliant, and they all invested a huge amount of time training and fundraising.  There was a lot of organisation involved, but absolutely worth it for the rewarding outcome.” 

Thanks to our Sponsors

“We were very fortunate to be generously sponsored by Featherstone Partners – a leading private wealth management firm providing clients with financial advice, specialising in school fee planning.  We were also provided with a colourful cutting edge kit by XXV Sportswear.

Preseli venture did an amazing job with the routes, the back up support and extremely comfortable accommodation.  Their lead guide, Tommy, supported us the whole way and local bike guru, Scott, was invaluable on the bike ride.” 

The day of the dawn-to-dusk Heads Up Challenge

“We all arrived at Preseli in the late afternoon on Bank Holiday Monday.  After I had given everyone a short briefing, we set about organising the kit, loading bikes on to the trailer and sorting out our kayaks.  With a 5 a.m. start to look forward to, an early night was the order of the day.  The following morning, as a glorious sunrise greeted us, we headed for Fishguard Harbour to begin the kayak.  We soon set out along the coast and paddled for just under three hours to Pwllgwaelod Beach.  Fortunately the sea was very calm and conditions were perfect.  We were lulled into a false of security and the bike ride soon brought us back to reality. 

Our cycle took us high up into the Preseli Hills and then through the magical and mysterious Gwaun Valley.  A long peddle down to St. David’s took us through some glorious countryside, passing through small villages, down country lanes and up some brutal hills.  Locals and holiday-makers were very generous with their support as we passed them along the way.  The Preseli team, with the help of my wife, Olivia, and son, Tom, provided flap jacks, water and bananas to keeping us going. We finished our 50 miles in the picturesque village of Porthgain.

The final leg was a demanding hike along the coastal path back to Preseli Venture and the village of Mathry.  Tired legs and some old injuries slowed us up a little, but we were buoyed by the stunning scenery and setting sun.  It was a magical conclusion to a memorable day. 

Exhausted but exhilarated, we staggered into Preseli just before 9 p.m. to be greeted by the ‘home team’ and a welcome drink at the bar.”

Are there plans for more Heads Up Challenges?

“Definitely.  We all got so much out of the challenge in so many ways that I am sure that we will plan another one.  I would love to make it an annual event, even if it is not always for charity.  We have raised a fantastic amount for Place2be – over £90,000 – and it is important that as Heads we keep the mental health of the pupils and staff at the forefront of our thinking.  We hope to reach the magic £100,000 mark before too long.  I am very grateful for the support of all the other Heads, without whom this challenge could not have taken place, and to everyone who has very kindly donated.  It was a great team effort with everyone playing their part in different ways.”  

Help us to reach the £100,000.00 target

Thank you to everyone for your support and extreme generosity.  We’re now just under £10,000.00 shy of the target, so if you haven’t had time to pledge your donation, and would like to help us reach that magic £100,000.00, click here.