Vanguard Way Challenge 2023

Vanguard Way Challenge Royal Russell

The Vanguard Challenge is a 66 mile path from Newhaven to East Croydon, which was organised by the School 10 years ago to raise money for charity. This year, we are doing many fundraising activities again for six different charities, starting Friday 23 June and culminating on Sunday 25 June with a BBQ at the School.

Ten years ago, this summer, the pupils, staff and parents at Royal Russell used the Vanguard Way as the basis for a series of exciting challenges to raise money for the charity MND: a cause very close to the hearts of teachers and pupils.

This year, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary, Royal Russell will be undertaking the Vanguard Challenge 2. Like all sequels, we aim to make it even bigger than the original. Pupils will be offered a wide range of challenges to choose from to gain sponsorship but will also be encouraged to create their own, particularly around the theme of 6 and 66. The event will culminate on Sunday 25 June, with an enormous barbecue, offering fun, games and abseiling, as well as a chance to rest some tired legs. Please check your emails for the link to purchase tickets. 

Please do share the Just Giving link with friends and family, where you can donate and leave your encouraging comments! 

Donations to JustGiving 

How to sign up

If you are a parent or pupil and would like to get involved in any of our Vanguard challenges, please see below.

  • If you would like to sign up for the walk or run please click here 
  • If you would like to sign up for the abseiling challenge please email Mr Tanner or click here

The deadline for signing up is Monday 5th June. 

To sign up for the abseiling challenge, please note pupils will need to be 10+ and be accompanied on-site by a parent or legal guardian. 

Vanguard Badges

Mrs Pepperdine has created the Vanguard Way Challenge logo for 2023, with each panel of the umbrella representing the colours of the six charities for which we are raising such important awareness and funds.

Mrs Pepperdine’s niece, a Media student at Solent University, helped her with the design and concept. The logo shows an umbrella and two friends sheltering together from the rain, symbolising our whole community supporting each other in challenging times, especially in terms of mental wellbeing.

Badges of this special one-off design are available for £1 on Lime Tree Quad at break times or using a card reader from Ms Smith in the School Office of the Senior School. They are also available from the School Office in the Junior School. 

Please wear one to show your support of our Vanguard Way Challenge and to raise money for our important charities.

Vanguard Way Challenge 2023



What is the Vanguard Challenge?

The Vanguard Challenge is Royal Russell’s whole-school charity event, which aims to raise money and awareness for 6 key charities under the umbrella of mental health and well-being. Ten years after the original Vanguard Challenge, we are building on the success of our previous charity events, bringing our community together to work towards our shared goal of helping others. 

What is the Vanguard Way and how will it challenge us?  

The Vanguard Way is a 66-mile path from East Croydon to Newhaven, part of which runs around the perimeter of the school site. Over the weekend of the 23rd -25th June, groups of the School community are running or walking a range of distances, as well as participating in associated challenges. Some pupils and teachers will complete the course in a 3-day hike, camping on route. Other members of the community will join for the final day, to complete a 17-mile hike, while some of us will still be challenging ourselves with a 6 mile walk back to Royal Russell. 

For runners, there’s a 5k and a half-marathon challenge. Supported by former teachers and current colleagues, one intrepid member of staff will be running the entire distance in one go! 

The Vanguard Challenge will culminate in a Grand Finale BBQ on site at Royal Russell School, with further exciting activities and tests of our nerve and strength, like abseiling from our iconic Chapel tower.

Keep an eye out for all the other events before that date. Every penny you donate will spur us on in those moments of exhaustion!

In previous events, we were so grateful for the final sums raised for our individual charities. This time, your generosity to this fundraising account will see all donations split equally between six charities, chosen by our students and staff to reflect our belief in kindness. good mental health and support of others. Our target amount this time reflects that challenging Vanguard '66' distance theme. Any money donated and any awareness created by sharing our story, along with your support and encouraging comments, will be a truly appreciated gift.

Our chosen charities are Papyrus, Prevention of Young Suicide, Reedham Children's Trust, transforming the lives of vulnerable children in Croydon, Demelza, Guide Dogs and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

We are also fundraising in the name of Nick Smith, an Old Russellian, who joined our senior school in September 2000 at the age of eleven. After leaving school to go to college, Nick continued to have an active involvement with RRS through the CCF and security work under the leadership of Colin Leggatt. Sadly, Nick lost his battle with cancer in June, and we held a celebration of his life in the Great Hall in July.

Nick worked at The Frylands Wood Scout Outdoor Centre, a charitable organisation where he originally started volunteering to make a difference to the lives of young people and foster in them a love for the outdoors. Eventually he took on a permanent role becoming the deputy centre manager. Royal Russell School has a link with Frylands Wood as the CCF and the junior school have both used the centre’s facilities.

Our wish is to make a permanent memorial to Nick. As Nick enjoyed climbing, we have decided on a climbing wall named in Nick’s memory, which would be available to scout groups, schools, and youth groups.

Reflections on the original Vanguard Challenge

Headmaster, Chris Hutchinson:

"The last Vanguard Challenge was a brilliant opportunity to explore and enjoy some beautiful English countryside as well as to test endurance, stamina and bike repair skills! I am really looking forward to this summer and to the opportunity for bringing elements of the Royal Russell community together for some fun fundraising for such important causes."

Head of Games, John Davies:

"Last time I cycled the route cross-county, starting around 5am in Newhaven. What I remember most are the stiles! All 60+ of them. Lifting my bike over every one of them. This time I might do the road route; it depends how much, if any, serious training I can get in to do there and back, or 'just' one-way. In doing so I hope to raise some awareness, have some fun, and just enjoy being part of a community trying to achieve something together."

Housemaster of Oxford, Colin Dear:

"In 2013, I ran the Vanguard Way in one day. What I remember most was the sense of community. For example, a number of teachers ran the furthest they have ever run, to support me. Returning to school and sharing experiences with everyone who had taken on a challenge has been one of the highlights of my time at Royal Russell. I have tried to forget the feeling in my legs, the endless stiles and the steepness of the hills just inside the M25. This time I hope to run it faster but more importantly, to be a part of something good."