Nene Park Academy, the home of Peterborough United’s training ground, will have an unexpected participant in this year’s London Marathon.

Principal Steve Howard (pictured) will be competing in the 26.2-mile route on 24th April in memory of Martin Bacon, the founder of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) and former principal of Swavesey Village College, who died two years ago.

He will run in a team with six others from different members of the CMAT, including Martin’s brother Trevor, to help raise funds for the Thorpe Hall Hospice, where Martin was cared for in his last few weeks, and the Sue Ryder charity.

Speaking on the event and the charity, Howard Steve said: “I have never run a marathon before, it is my first ever. In fact, about 10 years ago, I thought I was too old to ever run a marathon. I thought I had missed my chance, but when

Sue Ryder said they would be able to get some places to run for their charity and in memory of Martin, I said ‘yes’ as I have always wanted to run a marathon. Sue Ryder is one of the school’s charities, and for this event , we have raised £3,500 here alone towards the target of £12,500 between all of the schools in the trust.”

The principal’s training regime may be going to plan since last June, but the students at the academy will also have a chance to get involved. He said: “I’m running a competition with the school so people are having to guess how far I have gone in my training between starting and the end of the marathon. I’m not going to say exactly how far I have gone so far, but I did 20 miles last weekend, which is the most I’ve done in one run so far ever.”

Even though he may not be looking forward to the running part, there are a few things that will spur the marathon debutant on. He added: “After the long training runs, no, but people do tell me that actually the crowd and the atmosphere is supposed to be quite nice so I’m hoping that carries us through. Having seen Martin go through that whole difficult time, it is a very good reason for doing it; it is an incentive. We or the school would not be here if he had not started it.”

Since arriving at Nene Park Academy nearly six years ago, Steve has overseen a major improvement, particularly in student recruitment. “The point at which we arrived, the school was in real difficulties and its achievement was poor”, he said. “That first summer when we arrived, there were 180 places for children in each year group and we had 52 first choices. Achievement at the Academy has improved massively and we are delighted that the numbers this week show that 198 children have chosen the school as their first choice and we are doing all we can to help them with their applications to join us.

The link between the school and Peterborough United , has created a positive impact, both on the footballers and all of the pupils in the Academy. “The link with the football club is part of a wider appeal”, Steve said. “The curriculum is e supported in many ways for all the children going through Nene Park Academy. They have lots of other opportunities provided to support their lessons, from a deeper understanding of Business studies lessons through to food technology for sports stars. The POSH academy footballers obviously get huge support for their football and their studies through our partnership arrangements and I think this is testament to the work we do together. Importantly all of our children are benefitting from having the football club at the other end of the field.”


To donate, visit the ‘Remembering Martin Bacon’ page on JustGiving online at: