GALLERY: Hundreds of Norfolk teenagers take part in The Climate Run

As 1,200 Norfolk teenagers ran in the scenic surroundings of the Holkham Estate near Wells today, the foundations for a vibrant and prosperous future for the county were laid.

The Climate Run, which has been backed by the EDP, was held for the first time in Norfolk following a year of planning and anticipation and was described by some of those attending as inspirational, fantastic and amazing.

Students from secondary schools and colleges across the county took part in a 5km fun run and attended a careers fair focused on show casing the great number and wide range of career opportunities within the county's energy industry.

This was the first event of its type to be held in the UK and was organised by The Mason Trust, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at helping 12 to 25-year-olds in Norfolk and Suffolk reach their potential.

Founder Yvonne Mason followed the lead of German physics lecturer, Dr Michael Schmidt, who came up with the concept of The Climate Run five years ago and has organised them in Bremerhaven, on the north coast of Germany, annually for the last four years.

The Climate Run was held simultaneously in Bremerhaven today and Dr Schmidt, 50, was a special guest at the Norfolk event, where he completed the 5km run with his children Mara, 15, and Olof, 13.

Dr Schmidt, who works in Bremerhaven, a key centre for renewable energy, and who taught environmental science in Portsmouth from 1993 to 1997, said: 'I looked at what is happening to the world and thought I had to do something to raise awareness of climate change, particularly amongst young people. Our future depends on this.

Most Read

'The German Climate Run has now raised more than 30,000 euros for people in Africa, India and Columbia and I'm very pleased to see this has now come to England.

'There were originally plans for a Climate Run to be held in Paris today as well but that fell through for various reasons. Hopefully they will do it there next year and who knows how far it could go from there.'

Mrs Mason said: 'I met Dr Schmidt five years ago and thought The Climate Run was a fantastic idea.

'I saw what fantastic opportunities there are for people to work in the energy industry in Bremerhaven and thought that's what could happen in somewhere like Great Yarmouth in a few years.

'The growth of the energy industry in this country will be massive over the next 10 years but many young people are completely unaware of the big companies here in Norfolk. There will be huge career opportunities in this industry but if young people are not aware of them they will go to people from other parts of the country or to workers from abroad.

'At the moment there is no direct link between economic development and education and the demise of Connexions has made things a lot more difficult.

'It is vital to get young people talking directly to the employers because there is too much pressure on teachers to provide careers guidance and they are not trained for this.'

Sheringham High School, Wayland Community High School, Notre Dame High School, Methwold High School, City College Norwich and Great Yarmouth College were amongst those attending yesterday and students spoke to people from Scira, the company behind the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, Mott MacDonald, Gardline, Seajacks and Dawson Energy to name a few.

Half of the money raised at The Climate Run will go to environmental projects at the individual schools and colleges participating and the rest to The Jericho Project, which is working to improve facilities at three primary schools within a deprived area of Nairobi, Kenya.

It is not yet known how much has been raised.

Stanley Kamau, who is part of the organising team for The Jericho Project, travelled from Kenya to attend The Climate Run today.

He said: 'This has been an amazing day and it is so nice to see a thousand young people caring about the plight of people across the globe.

'I find Holkham a beautiful place and the money raised here will go very far in Kenya.'

Mrs Mason said: 'I'd like to thank race director Richard Coates, schools liaison Cherry Crowley, the staff and trustees of The Mason Trust and all of the companies and organisations that have got behind us.

'We will have a post event meeting at some point to decide if we do go ahead and hold another Climate Run. My initial feeling is that we could do it every two years but this will have to be discussed in more detail.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter