Tom Dannatt is a proud resident of Eaton and CEO of the international charity Street Child, which he founded with his wife, Lucinda back in 2008. In the first of occasional columns for this newspaper, Mr Dannatt outlines his work in some of the toughest parts of the globe and involvement in the "world's craziest marathon" 

If my surname sounds familiar, that is because it is.

I have the fortune of being born to two very remarkable and inspiring people, and above all wonderful parents - Richard, General the Lord, former head of the British Army, and Philippa (Pippa), nee-Gurney, Norfolk’s first ever female Lord-Lieutenant (the monarch’s representative in the county) and a regular contributor to these pages. 

I don’t know how many mothers and sons both get to write for this paper but I imagine it puts us in a fairly exclusive category!
Objectively, my life is a pretty nuts. 

Eastern Daily Press: Tom Dannatt, CEO & Founder of Street Child, speaking at the 15th Anniversary dinner hosted at

Last Thursday morning I got back from a three-country, 10-day working trip around West Africa spanning ministerial meetings, internal workshops, our own extraordinary marathon event (more about that below) and field visits including to our work in Monrovia’s West Point slum, in my view one of the grittiest places on the entire continent - and to four remote sites down endless bumpy tracks where Street Child is, in partnership with local communities, constructing schools for villages that simply put, have never had a school before. 

Then I dusted myself down, got a couple of hours sleep, and with the assistance of an unhealthy amount of coffee, wrote out a bit of a speech.

Then I proceeded to Kensington Palace, where Street Child was hosting a special evening to mark our 15th anniversary and the milestone of having made a material contribution to the education of a million children in over 20 countries, to deliver said speech.

It goes without saying that not every week is like that. But it isn’t so extraordinary that I look at it the above paragraph with particular wonder.

It is far from unusual that in the space of a day or two I find myself spending time in some of the world’s poorest, and most affluent spots. 

Eastern Daily Press: Visiting children and staff at the opening of St Thomas Norwich school, Lunsar

Street Child exists to bring the opportunity of education to children living in the world’s toughest places - in 2008 we began in Sierra Leone, then officially the world’s poorest country; and our three largest programmes in recent years have been in Afghanistan, Ukraine and in North East Nigeria where the Boko Haram (literally ‘education is forbidden’) crisis continues to ruin lives. 

Meanwhile, of course a key part of achieving that is spending time with people in some of the world’s most comfortable settings, to raise those vital funds.

These juxtapositions don’t discomfort me - this is the reality of the world.

But there is one event a year when we are able to bring our supporter-engagement and programmatic work right together - and the marathon I mentioned above, the Street Child Sierra Leone marathon, is that moment.

Every May since 2012, apart from during COVID, we have brought around 100 Street Child supporters from the UK and Europe to Makeni, the town Street Child was born in, to take part alongside hundreds of locals in what Runners' World dubbed the ‘world’s craziest marathon’. 

Actually it is more than a marathon - we also have a 5km, 10km, half and a new bike ride.

Eastern Daily Press: Josh Landles (e&e nurse at N&N) at the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon finish line

And it is more than a marathon because we spend the days before the races taking supporters to see the work their fundraising is directly supporting. 

It was especially great to have a strong Norfolk contingent this year, mainly connected to St Thomas Church in the city where my family worship. 

They were pretty blown away to visit thriving schools built several years ago by Street Child in villages which has previously never had a proper school - with funds raised from the St Thomas community.

They were also pretty blown away by the pristine white-sands Atlantic beach we took everyone to relax on the day after the run - another of those juxtapositions!

*To learn more about Street Child or the Sierra Leone Marathon, next held in May 2025, please visit