This year has brought unique challenges for everyone, but 2011 leaver Olivia Strong, with the help of our other former pupils, India Pappalardo-Strachan and Alice Taylor, found an opportunity to help people around the globe to create positive change through running during lockdown with their internationally recognised fundraising campaign, Run For Heroes.
After hearing the news that Olivia was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for “services to Fundraising during Covid-19”, as well as receiving a Points of Light Award from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year, we wanted to catch up with Olivia to find what she had planned for the future of Run For Heroes.
Not content with raising over £7 million for charity and seeing celebrities including Olympian Sir Mo Farah and singer Ellie Goulding take part, Olivia, now 27 and living in London working as a freelance documentary producer who has worked with the BBC and Netflix, told us that the not-for-profit is currently gaining charitable status so it can continue raising vital funds for charity. The team is currently in the process of setting up their next event, which will be launching in May 2021.
The Run For Heroes campaign was officially the most successful viral virtual fundraiser ever in the UK and it now sits third globally after the Ice Bucket Challenge, so we can’t wait to see what their next event achieves!
With so much accomplished for charity already during such a difficult time and lots more exciting things to come, we asked the Run For Heroes team what advice they might give to our pupils who also want to make a difference, but might not know where to start.
Olivia suggested: 'When you have an idea, just go for it. Close your eyes and jump in the deep end - you really don't know where you'll end up! Sometimes the hardest thing is actually taking that first small step that feels like a giant leap but once you do, I promise you'll surprise yourself.'
India thinks that the best place to start with any new idea is to take time to: 'Understand what you have to offer and where your strengths lie, but also don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. The greatest learnings come from those pockets of vulnerability. The more you learn, the more you grow - and the more you grow, the more you bring to the table.'
Thank you, Olivia and India.
At a time when we cannot plan for the future taking that first step might feel particularly scary, but we encourage the ESMS community and our pupils to continue to jump in feet first and continue to grow. As Olivia said, you might surprise yourself.