The Warrior Challenge is our biggest fundraiser

The Friends of Nicholas Hawksmoor's annual Tough Mudder-style event raises up to £8,000

Our water-based obstacle course is designed to test the strength and endurance of the pupils and leave them soaking wet and covered in mud. Even the staff get involved, and the PTA provides cake to help them recover from the mud and noise. Parents don’t need to worry about their children being dirty either, as the mud comes out in the wash.

We named our Tough Mudder-style event the Warrior Challenge and first held it in 2019 after seeing the success of another local school. But we set out to create a course that would be even tougher and even muddier!

Since then, we’ve run it annually and it has become our biggest fundraiser, making between £5,000 and £8,000. Everyone tells us how much they enjoy the Warrior Challenge. It raises a lot of money for the school, encourages children to try something out of their comfort zone, and is a lot of fun.

We hold it in the autumn so the school field can recover in time for sports day. We build the course over one weekend in September or October and hold the event the following Monday. Reception children are a bit small for this one, but Years 1 to 6 all take part. Each year group spends around 50 minutes on the course: they are allowed five minutes to look at it, up to ten minutes to warm up to music on the adjacent playground, 25 to 30 minutes to complete the course and five minutes for a photo at the end.

The route follows a similar path every year, using a steep grassy hill as a water slide. We build much of the obstacle course from old tyres, which we obtain for free from tyre centres; straw bales, which are available from merchants or local farmers; heavy-duty tarpaulins; cargo nets; and paddling pools donated by parents or bought cheaply in end-of-summer sales.

After the PTA finish the risk assessment, the head of school completes a final check of the course. Around 25 volunteers help on the day, with ten or so staying afterwards to help clear up. We also have first aiders from among the school staff.

The Warrior Challenge takes the entire school day. Most of the teachers and TAs also complete the course along with their classes. Over the years, the headteacher and the chief executive of the Trust have taken part too. The children love seeing these respectable adults covered in mud.

Everyone brings a change of clothing and a towel, flannel or wipes. We put a tarpaulin outside each classroom where children can remove their footwear. A bit of extra mud usually ends up in the school, but the cake keeps everyone on-side, including the cleaners.

Instead of charging a flat entry fee, we encourage children to get sponsored or bring a cash donation, as we raise significantly more this way. We have used the money to fund improvements to outside play areas, and buy IT equipment, outdoor play equipment and library books. We also used some of it to subsidise our Christmas event.

Danielle Gautrey, PTA chair, Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School, Towcester, Northamptonshire (430 pupils)