FOR most people, being able to say they’d completed one ultra-marathon would be enough, but teacher Laura Tumilty is pulling on her trainers once again in a bid to raise funds for the North East Autism Society.

Laura, who teaches IT, English and horticulture at Thornhill Park School, in Sunderland, is aiming to raise £300 by taking part in the gruelling 100-kilometre Race to the Castle in June.

The event will see Laura run from Kirkharle to Bamburgh Castle, in Northumberland - and if the distance alone wasn’t challenging enough, the 36-year-old is also planning to finish the entire route in just one day. 

It’s all in the name of a good cause, though, as any money raised will go towards purchasing new play equipment for the school, which was founded by the Society in 1980.

“I have worked for NEAS for five years now and I see how our schools and other services help children, young people and adults with a range of Neurodiversity needs every day,” she says.

Just before the first lockdown in 2020, Thornhill Park School moved to a new site and we want to raise money for a new play equipment for the garden which will meet the sensory needs of our learners.

Laura, from Hartlepool, joined the Society’s teaching staff in 2016, having spent more than 10 years teaching in mainstream schools. And she’s never looked back, as Laura says loves the variety that her job brings from day to day. 

The thing I love most about my job is that it is never the same. I get to work with amazing young people and adults, support them and watch them make positive progress in their everyday lives.

Laura took up running a decade ago, as a way of losing weight for her wedding, and has since competed in 5km races, local Park Runs, half marathons and marathons, both in the UK and overseas.

In 2019 she took on her biggest challenge to date when she completed the 100km Race to the Stones event. And, after last year’s events were cancelled due to Covid-19, she is looking forward to running once again alongside her husband Gary, and friends Laura and Jojo.

“This time I wanted to challenge myself more and see if I can get the distance done in one go,” she explains.

“Also, when I did Race to the Stones, I felt good at the end of day one, but when I got up on day two my legs and ankles were not good and the first two hours of the second 50km were awful. I vowed then if I was doing it again it would be in one go.”

As the Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Laura is encouraging her Society colleagues to follow her lead and take part in future fundraising events – whether it’s an ultra-marathon, a sponsored sky dive or even a bake sale.

“Completing an ultramarathon is an amazing experience you go through so many ups and downs over 100km and you feel a great sense of achievement at the end,” she adds.

"If you can combine something you enjoy with raising money for some of our services, it’s a great motivator."

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If you would like to take part in, or organise, a fundraising event - whether it's a bake sale, sky dive or sponsored walk - in support of NEAS, please email
[email protected].