Thursday, 21 August 2014

Kids Run Free's Office Volunteers

Kids Run Free is a charity focused on the outdoors and physical activity so we often focus on the outdoor volunteers such as Race Directors inspiring children to run. But Kids Run Free relies just as much on its indoor volunteers who work in its head office. We currently have four office volunteers. Our longest serving volunteer, Pete, has been at Kids Run Free since January 2012. Media assistant Alex and administrative assistant Rob have been at the charity for over half a year now while our newest volunteer, administrative assistant Ai, has just joined us. And lets not forget Joey the Kangaroo who helps out at the office and – I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here – myself, Dash. We’re always looking for more office volunteers; there is currently a vacancy for an IT assistant, so if you’re passionate about Kids Run Free and IT’s your thing email

What’s so important about volunteering at the Kids Run Free office? Pete previously worked at Jaguar Landrover before joining Kids Run Free. Pete’s voluntary work has been vital to Kids Run Free and his experience in the corporate world gives him just the administrative skills Kids Run Free needs to make it a success. He is responsible for all sorts of duties, from doing the accounts and getting grant funding to updating the website. Much more importantly he also provides the lowdown on Co-op sandwiches and is an astute music critic, quick to point out songs on the radio that cut corners, are too slow, or generally too – well – rubbish!

Rob and Ai both perform administrative ‘back office’ duties. Rob joined Kids Run Free in June and his first role was helping with the AVENGER, an event of our sister company Raceways [] He is currently studying a Sports Science degree in Edinburgh and wanted to volunteer at a charity related to his interests. Rob does loads of stuff for Kids Run Free, organising events such as the recent Bedworth event. He even gets to personally invite town Mayors! Ai is an international volunteer, before she joined Kids Run Free she taught English in Japan, along with performing plenty of admin duties. She mainly helps Pete with the accounts and data entry. In return, Kids Run Free will give her work experience in the UK, so she can find a job in administration. Kids Run Free wishes her best of luck!

Alex joined Kids Run Free after graduating from UCL and he’s been here for over six months. He helps Kids Run Free get the publicity and exposure it needs in the local press, by writing articles and press releases. He also phones up local radio stations to tell them about Kids Run Free’s work and has even started a Brand New Newsletter. He wants to use his KRF experience to get a media or marketing job.

 Here they all are, from left: Rob, Ai, Alex and Pete.
The real man – well Kangaroo! – behind Kids Run Free though is Joey the Kangaroo. He joined Kids Run Free because, having been an Olympic Gold Medal winning bouncer, his joints became too achy to bounce any more and he had to stick to running. How humiliating! Now he helps out all the time at the office and comes along to events. He’s always around when you need him!

And I would talk about all the very very important work I do – but I’m far too modest and self effacing to do that!

Yours Dashingly, Dash

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Jo Franklin, Birmingham Race Director

Every Christmas, you may see in Birmingham a certain Mr Franklin dressed up as

… Father Christmas! If you’re lucky, you may see him fall flat on his face, all hot and bothered in the cold Christmas winter. Here is Mr Franklin’s wife Jo Franklin.

With a blue T-shirt and flame red hair, she’s not dressed up for any particular occasion.

Jo Franklin is KRF Birmingham Race Director, a role she finds “extremely rewarding” because she gets to see children run for possibly the first time and push their limits, for example, by running 1K. She became Race Director when she set up her own business and didn’t have the time to continue her previous volunteering in schools and colleges. As a keen runner who had time to spare on the weekends, Race Directing was ideal for Jo, allowing her to continue her rewarding work with children and communicate her passion for running.

Here is Jo – with her standard work costume of blue T-shirt and flame red hair – setting an example for some enthusiastic kids.

And don’t forget superman!

To find out why Jo is so passionate about Kids Run Free, we interviewed her by email and you can see her answers below.

Where did you first learn about Kids Run Free?

I learned about KRF from an advert on Gumtree, then met up with Martine to find out more.

What made you want to become a Race Director for Kids Run Free?

I have done quite a bit of volunteering in the past in schools and colleges, but since setting up my own business, I didn't have time to continue what I was doing. I still very much wanted to be involved with children on a less regular basis, and as a keen runner, this was ideal for me.

Why are you so passionate about Kids Run Free?

I love the race day, it's extremely rewarding. The best part for me is seeing children that may have never run before achieving something, be it their first race, a personal best, or completing their first 1k. It's a great fun event, we have lots of laughs, and plenty of noisy cheering!

You and your husband dressed up as Father Christmas last year, what’s the story behind that!?

For Christmas, we wanted to add an extra dimension. My husband is a fireman, and they have children's events at the fire station, so the costume was readily available. We decided that he should run with the children, although I'm not sure he realised how warm it would be inside the suit! The very best moment was when Father Christmas fell flat on his face, much to the amusement/concern of the kids, but we had sweets to give out and lots of great pictures throughout. 

Yours Dashingly, Dash

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Wonderful Life of Chris Spriggs in Bidford

Those of you who have attended our Bidford Event will know how much important work Chris Spriggs does for Kids Run Free. Here he is with his wife Hannah

And here is Hannah with their three high-energy children aged 9, 7 and 3.

Chris and Hannah regularly bring them along to the Bidford event.

Even before he started volunteering for Kids Run Free, Chris Spriggs was no stranger to charities. His day job is running a mentoring charity that works with young people called Lifespace Trust, an organisation he founded 10 years ago.

Chris Spriggs became a Race Director in April 2014. The Stratford Event became unfeasible due to low attendance. However, Chris “could see KRF would work in Bidford” and he was indispensable for the move, handling all the promotional work, finding and motivating volunteers.

A major achievement was getting a grant from the local Warner's BUDGENS store, who will be supporting Kids Run Free for the next 6 months through their token scheme.

The Bidford event has an average of 35 children attending each month. This month over 30 Bidford children were at the “Festival of Running” at Edmonscote Athletics Track in Leamington Spa for “sunshine, smiles and lots of running.”
The “Festival of Running” was the third of Kids Run Free’s Annual Festivals and served to bring together all of Kids Run Free’s ten locations in Leamington Spa, including Chris’s Bidford event.

Chris Spriggs runs the Bidford event with the help of his family and he has even set up a Facebook page for it at It’s regularly updated with news and events from Bidford. To find out what inspired Chris to throw his weight behind Kids Run Free, we interviewed him, so you can read Chris in his own words.

Where did you first learn about Kids Run Free?

I came across KRF from a leaflet in a café and Leamington was our nearest location, a 40 minute drive. I admit it took some dedication in the winter getting there through the snow to be on time each month!

What made you want to become a Race Director for Kids Run Free?

When Stratford KRF got underway we went a few times and supported it but the field was always flooded, parking was tricky and the numbers never really took off. Sometimes our 3 kids represented half the attendance. It shows that to make KRF work you need several things to come together, not just enthusiasm and dedication, but the right infrastructure of support, existing links within the community and practical things like easy parking and an easy to find sustainable venue. I could see KRF would work in Bidford. There is a strong community of families and The Meadow has this perfect triangular area for our runs! I wanted to give more kids the chance to experience running as a positive thing, and to have fun with their parents/carers (we always finish off with a parent and child race!) 

Why are you so passionate about Kids Run Free?

I'm a big fan of KRF. I love the enthusiasm for kids having the chance to run to their hearts content, in a safe supervised setting. They can race if they want to, but applauding them for participation is just as important. Children and running go hand in hand. At Bidford we always say there are 3 prizes for every child who runs: a sticker, having your name cheered on by all the adults, and that great feeling of satisfaction that you've done your best!

Yours Dashingly, Dash

Kids Run Free launches in Bedworth

On Saturday 2nd July, Kids Run Free launched in a new location, Bedworth. For the first time, the Bedworth Cricket Club hosted the fun and games of a Kids Run Free event.

The Bedworth event started at 8:45am and after a few warm up exercises the kids were ready to race at 9:00. Like all KRF events, Bedworth was free and accessible to 0-16 year olds. There were races of different distances for different age groups and abilities to ignite children’s passion for sport and physical activity.

The Bedworth event was attended by Bedworth’s Mayor, Councillor Brian Hawkes along with Mayoress Mrs Diana Hawkes.

Here they are, standing with KRF cofounder Catherine O’Carroll, KRF Project Manager Samantha Young and volunteers Jason, Emily and Ryan. Their enthusiasm and dedication made for another successful Kids Run Free launch, a further step towards Kids Run Free’s mission to bring fun sustainable running events to children all over the Midlands.

Your Dashing Correspondent, Dash