Members of Virgin’s core Strive Challenge team dropped in at Burlington Danes Academy last week, where students have been carrying out their own character-building crusade.

In partnership with the charity Big Change, the Strive Challenge will see ten fundraisers run, row, cycle and hike from London to the summit of the Matterhorn – a mountain in the Pennine Alps, on the border between Italy and Switzerland – in August.

Inspired by the initiative, staff and students at the ARK school have put their resilience and fitness to the test. With a target of covering 1305km in five days, using the same methods that the team will next month, they surpassed 1500.

Aadarsh, a year 8 pupil, said: “It was harder than I thought, doing 4km just today is quite tough. I think if we were doing what the actual Strive Challenge team are doing we wouldn’t last very long. It’s great them coming here and encouraging us to do more. It’s almost like we’re at the same level as them, even though we’re not.”

Visiting the school in White City on Thursday were the project founders, Sam Branson – son of Richard – and his cousin Noah Devereux, and their teammate Karl Lokko, a former gang leader who has turned his life around.

Burlington Danes Academy
Burlington Danes Academy
 

The core group will run three back-to-back marathons, row the channel, cycle to Verbier, hike the Haute Route to Zermatt and then climb the Matterhorn, before returning home. They hope to raise £750,000 to help young people in the UK develop the skills they need to reach their potential.

“I am incredibly excited to have created such a challenging event that will hopefully have such a positive impact on young people across the UK,” said Branson. “It has been so rewarding seeing it evolve from an idea with my cousin into a massive and very real physical event that will cross three countries, five different sporting disciplines and contain over 350 participants.”