July 6, 2015 9.49 am This story is over 81 months old

A challenging month for me and the UTC

Big challenges to come: Lincoln UTC principal Dr Rona Mackenzie is looking ahead to a major move, glitzy awards and gruelling charity challenges.

It’s been a busy month not only at the UTC but also in the completion of my 40 Challenges.

As we enter the final fortnight of term and prepare to move from Chad Varah House to our new, stunning premises on the Lindum Road, our daily working lives are a mixture of teaching, packing, removals and preparing for our first ‘formal’ awards ceremony.

We are honoured to have Nicola Gilroy hosting the evening as 31 awards are presented to some of our magnificent students.

To be honest, it has been difficult for our Marketing Officer, Holly, to keep us to only 31 awards; if we had it our way, it would be a gala evening of awards for all!

Each of the awards is sponsored by a business, reflecting the immense support we have received from our industry partners this year.

The nominations have been finalised, awards sent out for engraving, formal dresses and suits purchased and food and drinks ordered. It will be a spectacular event in the grounds of our wonderful home and then at the Assembly Rooms.

We will undoubtedly be all over Twitter and in The Lincolnite: please do take a moment to see how amazing our students are and share in their successes.

It is the first time I’ve ever worked in a Grade II listed building during a heat wave. I thought the winter was interesting, when the building struggled to retain any heat and we wore extra layers to keep ourselves toasty warm.

Lincoln UTC Principal Dr Rona Mackenzie on the steps of the new college campus and former Greestone Centre.  Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln UTC Principal Dr Rona Mackenzie on the steps of the new college campus and former Greestone Centre. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

This month there have been pockets of hot and cold throughout the building – my office being a hot pocket, with a window that doesn’t open and the usually welcome sun pouring straight into it! It hasn’t done us any harm and, to be honest, I’m glad it has already happened. I need the temperature to drop remarkably by the weekend, if it would be so kind.

This month has been a busy one for my 40 Challenges. I have milked a cow, helped feed week old calves, taken a friend’s eight-year-old on a high ropes adventure, completed a three and a half hour adventure race and narrowly missed attending a Foo Fighters concert due to an unfortunate broken leg…not mine, I hasten to add! However, this weekend marks the occasion of one of my two ‘big’ challenges. And I need the weather to be cool and dry to help us out!

It is the ‘Race to the Stones’ – a 100km race across the Ridgeway, the oldest path in Britain. It is heralded as the UK’s finest ‘Ultra marathon’ and my husband, who flies home from working in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, and I will be lining up on the start line on Saturday morning.

It’s a complicated affair – we have to take the car to the finish at 5am on Saturday morning, be transported to the start line 2 hours away, and then start the race at 9am. We intend to finish in under 24 hours, closer to 20 all being well, meaning that we should stagger into the finish line around 4am. And then, we jump into the car and drive home ready for work on Monday morning!

And the reason for these challenges? Anyone who has read my column before will know that I was 40 in January and decided to challenge myself to 40 new experiences or challenges.

The main driver is to raise money for charity – four charities. They are detailed on my blog. I chose these charities because they have special meaning to me.

I work in the Chad Varah House, Chad Varah being the founder of The Samaritans, so I am fundraising to support them in their efforts to support people in crisis. We know things can go wrong at any time, to anyone, so their work is vital.

I work in Lincoln and also went to school here as a child. A PE teacher by trade, I know the value of sport in the lives of children. The Lincoln Football Club Sport and Education Trust combine my two passions and are helping to create better futures for young people.

My husband was fortunate to be a Headteacher in Kathmandu, Nepal, for two years and I have spent many happy school holidays trekking in the Annapurna and Everest regions. There you see young children who truly understand the value of education – yet it is so often unavailable to them.

Classroom in the Clouds is a charity which enables children in the Khumba region to have access to high quality education, to make a difference to their lives and their futures. They do amazing work, especially now when those villages have lost so much to the devastating earthquakes.

My fourth and final charity is Arrhythmia Alliance. Two people who mean the world to me suffer from cardiac arrhythmia, and this charity is doing all it can to find cures, treat patients and help them with their quality of life. They are doing amazing work and I am keen to support them in any way I can.

And so – this weekend will see us race across the 100km in pursuit of money for charity. I know it will be painful, I don’t expect to have healthy looking feet at the end and I am sure that walking into work on Monday, albeit it just from the car park, will be a painful affair.

I am doing this to raise money for people who are less fortunate than me. So please do help me – don’t buy that bar of chocolate but donate a pound; don’t buy that weekend treat but instead donate a fiver.

You will be contributing to the health and happiness of many others – what could be more rewarding?

The links in this column are safe to use online and I’d love to see the money piling up for charity before we set foot on the start line.

It would be a real boost, and help us in the middle of the night when my eyes want to close and legs want a rest! Thank you, in anticipation, for your generosity. Do keep an eye on twitter for our pictures of victory next weekend!

Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.