Taking a breath: Hampton outside one of the schools covered on the run.

Runnin’ on a Prayer- Local marathon man’s run for schools

By Joshua Henry

A Lurgan-based youth worker completed a 50 plus mile run across 33 schools around Co Armagh in August, to show support for the schools during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Jonny Hampton, a youth worker for ‘Reach Mentoring’- a organisation who provide support to young people took on the mammoth solo task because the groups summer fundraiser was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Hampton wanted to give back to the schools his group had worked in.

This desire made more pertinent by not being able to offer their services in school. “We weren’t able to, at that time, to be in the schools providing mentorship because school was closed” he said. And from that the idea was born. “Let’s run round all the schools and let’s just pray for them quite simply” he said.

 There was personal motivation in this for Hampton who was a teacher himself for five years who is sympathetic to the new challenges schools face as a result of the COVID- 19 crisis.

“Our schools are going through a time that is tough for them, both them as schools and the pupils” he said.

 Hampton received support on his journey from other local youth workers as well as members of staff from the schools he was running to who were “so appreciative” of what he was doing. This was particularly important for Hampton.

“Anytime you were reaching a wee dark place, usually before lunchtime every day you’d have gone to a school and there’d be someone there just to encourage you or just thankful of what Reach were doing” he said.

At each school, Hampton approached the gate and prayed. A little gesture to some but for Hampton it means so much more.

“It’s the best thing, in my view that we can do for anyone” he said.