Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018: Meet our amazing runners

Home > Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018: Meet our amazing runners

06 September 2018

Royal Parks

Find out why they’re running in support of PET and how you can donate.

What links a crime novelist, a founder of an education tech company, a Prison Reading Group co-ordinator, and a PET volunteer?

They’re among six super PET supporters who will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London on 14 October to help us reach more prisoners in England and Wales.

Here they tell us a little more about why they’re going the extra mile for prison education. Make a real difference to people in prison and support our runners – Oli, Olivia, Jamie, James, Ella and Katie.

Oli Harris

Support Oli here

Oli Harris, 40, is a crime novelist and journalist from London. He also teaches creative writing.

Why are you running in support of PET?

I became aware of PET via a reading group I helped run in HMP Wandsworth for a great organisation called Prison Reading Groups. My co-facilitator works for PET. That experience of prisons, prisoners and what education means to them made a huge impression on me. As did the challenges they face accessing resources. When I saw PET calling for people to run the Royal Parks half marathon it seemed a great opportunity to up my game and stay involved with an amazing organisation.

Why is education so important in prisons?

There’s a huge amount of untapped intelligence and curiosity amongst the prison population. They want to turn things around. Many are itching for the means to do that.

Education doesn’t just provide new opportunities, it gives people belief that they can change in the first place, the confidence that life can be different. It represents discipline and progression and hope. It’s hard not to be inspired by individuals overcoming huge odds to get their lives on track.

What PET distance learning course would you choose to study?

It’s an incredible selection. ‘Goat Husbandry’ caught my eye, as did the training to become a Coastal Skipper Yachtmaster. Otherwise, learning Arabic would open up a lot of fascinating travel, experiences and work.

How has preparation been going for the run? Are you looking forward to it?

The furthest I’ve run before is 6/7 miles. I’ve never done a half marathon before! I’ve been running a lot – and getting better – so I’m very much looking forward to it.

What is your fundraising target? And any words for the people supporting you?

It would be great to exceed £300 – I’ll have to see how it goes! In the meantime, I want to say a huge thanks to the people who have donated. You’re supporting an incredible charity. Feel free to enjoy the thought of my toil!

If you want to help us transform prisoners’ lives, support Oli here.

Jamie Grundy

Support Jamie here

Jamie Grundy, 48, lives in Cardiff. He is a freelance trainer and educator and volunteers for PET.

Why are you running in support of PET?

I’m a big supporter of PET particularly the Wales Prisons Project who supported a great deal of the work I did in widening participation at Cardiff Met University. I now volunteer for the Wales team and this is an opportunity to offer back some of the support that has always been so forthcoming at PET.

Tell us a bit about what you do for a living.

I’m a freelance trainer and educator in the fields of prison education, higher education and community development over at www.jamiegrundy.net. I recently launched my own employability programme called License to Learn specifically aimed at supporting those with convictions into education and employment. There’s probably not a working day goes by that I don’t mention PET and the opportunities they provide.

Why is education so important in prisons? Why does prison education inspire you?

I recently completed an MA Education focussing on prison education. I saw at first hand the impact that education made to those either newly released from prison, or studying whilst on ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence). It gave them a clear purpose going forward, enabling them to see a future they were able to make happen.

What PET distance learning course would you choose to study?

At first I thought I’d like to do Beekeeping or Philosophy, but actually I’d like to study Art History. I spend a lot of time in art galleries and would like to be more informed than I currently am.

Have you done anything like this before?

I’ve raised funds for charity several times. Two years ago I ran a very swift 5k for the Movember Run in Cardiff with a fine John Waters style moustache while dressed in a sumo suit. If I hit £1000 then I’ll get it out for this race. However it does chafe in places, I discovered.

Any words for the people supporting you?

Thank you, thank you and thank you basically. Although I may not be the fastest out there I will get to the end, so please ensure the race organisers don’t pack up and go home before I’ve crossed the finishing line!

Let’s see Jamie run in a sumo suit again! Support him here.

Olivia Loveridge

Support Olivia here

Olivia Loveridge, 23, lives in South London and splits her time between working for Give a Book, Prison Reading Groups, and an independent publishing company.

Why are you running in support of PET?

I think that prison education is really important. I met PET at the Reading in Prison Day last year through my work for the charity Give a Book and Prison Reading Groups (PRG). I’ve seen first hand how important this sort of support is in prisons.

Tell us a bit about what you do for a living.

No two days are the same really. Give a Book is a small charity, so the work is very varied, and I coordinate all of PRG’s reading groups and family days, which involves buying the books, liasing with volunteers and prison staff, collecting feedback, and visiting the groups.

Why is education so important in prisons? Why does prison education inspire you?

The time people spend in prison needs to fundamentally involve education – better preparing people for the world they will re-enter, or you can’t expect people to be able to engage with society any better than when they first ended up in prison.

What PET distance learning course would you choose to study?

I studied philosophy at university, so maybe something more vocational! Healthcare or psychology perhaps.

How has preparation been going for the run? Are you looking forward to it?

Preparations are going well…I think. I’m looking forward to it / experiencing growing fear in equal measure! I’ve got quite a gruelling September planned as 10k is the furthest I’ve run before. Enjoying running has been a fairly recent development for me and having this target has really spurred me on.

Any words for the people supporting you?

Thank you! And make sure to have a look at the learners’ stories on the PET website, I think they sum up much better than I can why prison education is so worthwhile.

You can help Olivia reach her target by donating here.

James Tweed

Support James here

James Tweed, 45, lives in Suffolk. He’s the founder of Cambridge-based ed tech company Coracle.

Why are you running in support of PET?

I’m proud to be representing Coracle on the ‘Reducing the Digital Divide’ working group as part of the Prisoner Learning Alliance (PLA), which was established by PET in 2012.

With over 50% of those released re-offending within 12 months and the status quo costing society around £15 billion per year, there is an urgent need for change. Education and increased access to learning opportunities can turn personal tragedy into something that benefits society as a whole.

Tell us a bit about what you do for a living.

founded Coracle in 2007 and we’re on a mission: creating a world where no-one is isolated from learning opportunities. In today’s digital world it is very important to equip prisoners with the skills not only to get a job when they are released but also to cope with everyday life – skills we take for granted as members of the public.

Our work so far has shown the use of tech in prison can bring students’ strengths to the fore. Not only does the challenge of the technology promote a sense of interdependence among the students, we saw relationships between prison staff and students strengthen too.

Have you done anything like the Royal Parks Half before? Are you looking forward to it?

Since I started running 3 years ago I’ve really enjoyed getting out on a reasonably regular basis. I love Parkrun (I’ve done 71 so far) and Great Run Local. My first ever half-marathon was the Royal Parks half in 2016 when I ran for Orchid Cancer Charity. I can’t wait to be part of it again for PET – the atmosphere last time really kept me going.

What is your fundraising target? And any words for the people supporting you?

Anything raised will be brilliant: I’m hoping to raise a few hundred pounds but hopefully a lot more. Your donations will give me a massive boost, especially as the legs start to really hurt!

Give prisoners a second chance – support James here.

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