Would you like to run a marathon, swim the Channel, row the Atlantic, cycle Lands End-John o'Groats or indeed do anything challenging on behalf the ACF? If so, please email and get in touch as we are delighted to help you financially do something (ie help with entry fees etc) in return for an agreed fundraising target. info@adamcolefoundation.org

Update: April 2020

Friends of Uppingham Gap Award

Many youngsters on leaving school take a gap year and The Foundation decided to offer a travel bursary to a student from Uppingham. The competitors were asked to submit how they would spend part of their Gap Year and the award of £800 was given to Sebastian Fielden, who travelled to Mumbai to teach English in a school. The following is Sebastian’s report of his experiences.

Lok Seva Sangam, Bombay. January/February 2018

Sebastian G-C Fielden

I arrived in Bombay (Mumbai) knowing only that I was going to be teaching slum children in a charity that I’d found online whilst sitting on a comfy sofa back home. I didn’t know how many children, what kind of school, how many hours or even whether there would be any other volunteers there working with me. Miraculously, it all turned out pretty well.

Lok Seva Sangam (LSS), the charity I worked for, is a very small Catholic organisation that’s been operating since the 80’s in Bombay. It has two sides to it, a medical side and an education one. The medical team specialises in treating leprosy and other dermatological problems; they have several leper colonies and contact points around the city where they treat and monitor patients. There’s an enormous stigma attached to leprosy in India due to the deformities that it creates, like claw finger. This destroys the lives of the people that contract it, since families disown their own relatives and they become ostracised from society. They’re unable to find a job or place to stay since no community is willing to house them. The only place where they can lead a relatively normal life is in one of these leper colonies where patients can live and work (farming the land). I was fortunate enough to visit one of these colonies on the outskirts of town, Swarge Dwar, which is comprised of 36 acres of land and houses 80 people. This colony, along with several others, was set up and is run completely by LSS with no government funding. Lok Seva Sangam can be translated as “organisation serving the people” and nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in one of these centres.


However, the side of the organisation that I worked in and am more knowledgeable about is the education one. With a population of around 21 million people, Bombay’s infrastructure can’t keep up with the constant influx of rural migrants that come to the city in the hope of a better life. Many of these migrants end up working and living in slums where their quality of life is the same, if not worse, than in their villages. Due to the vast number of children, state schools can’t provide a 9am-5pm education to very child; instead, the school day is split in two with half the children going in the first session and the other in the second. Even when doing this, classes are oversubscribed and the quality of the teaching is often very poor. Lok Seva Sangam wasn’t in fact their main school, but actually a supplementary ‘homework clinic’ that the children would go to every day to support the work that they were doing at their state school. This meant that in the mornings, we would teach the children who’d go to state school in the afternoon, and vice versa.


One thing I’ve learnt during my time here is that the one skill that will enable people to escape the poverty trap is being able to speak English. All business, laws and government reports are done in English, therefore being unable to speak it automatically excludes people from lots of jobs. LSS has therefore made it their mission teach slum kids English so that they have the chance to achieve greater things in life. However, some parents won’t let their children go to school because they cannot afford to lose their labour which can put food on the table, so LSS is slowly getting the message across and managing to change the culture.

The slum I worked in, Baiganwadi, is one of the most disadvantaged in Bombay. Housing around 200,000 people, its inhabitants live in absolute squalor. It is rarely anybody’s choice to live in Baiganwadi and many people there came to neighbouring Bombay to chase a fortune, but failed, and could find no other place to stay but in the slums. The majority of the slum consists of small hand-built shacks which end up being shared by a large number of people. With a growing population in the slum, the shacks are becoming smaller and closer together. These small homes are similar to a one-room house with no electricity, air-conditioning or running water Less than 2% follow proper hygiene, only 5% have access to safe water and over 80% are living below the poverty line. Mountains of rubbish are scattered throughout the narrow roads of Baiganwadi, sometimes even in the water pipes where the children play. To add to this, none of the makeshift homes in the slums have plumbing, running water taps or toilets.

Due to the lack of space, life happens on the streets. Anything from showers to rows, to killing chickens, to playing cricket or celebrating a wedding occurs on the street. However, I never felt threatened or at risk and was often greeted with a broad smile on my way to and from the bus stop. I must say that some of the faces sitting on the side of the street looked a lot more content than those commuters returning from a day’s work in London.


I spent most of the time there at the school teaching, which I learnt to enjoy very much. I taught children aged between 6 and 13, all of whom were in the same class but had different levels of English. This was very challenging and a bit demoralising at first since it meant we were starting from a very low base, but also encouraging because it meant there was plenty of room for improvement. A “normal” day at school started at 9am where we’d begin by helping them with their homework for an hour. Then 10-11.30 we’d teach English as best we could. By 11.30, a mixture of the kids’ energy, the heat and lack of ventilation in the small classroom meant we had to take a quick siesta to recoup our energies. Lunch (cooked by a neighbour) then came in a a tiffin box and we’d have it with the other teachers at the school.

In the afternoon, we’d teach the other batch of children from 14.30-17.00, by which point we were knackered. This was a pretty intense routine but it meant we felt really fulfilled by the end of the week and had earned ourselves a rest.

At first, the children were a bit reserved and kept their distance since they weren’t that used to speaking to a ‘gora’ (foreigner). However, very quickly I earned their trust and they began opening up to me, making lessons fun. Despite living in such appalling conditions, the children were always extremely happy and energetic, which was uplifting. I’ll never forget my first day when Shravan, a confident and chatty 11 year old asked me how many languages I spoke. I proudly said three (English, Spanish and French) thinking that that was quite a decent repertoire for someone of my age. He laughed at me - “only three?” he asked in disbelief. “I can speak five - Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, English and another language from my rural hometown”. I was embarrassed but I soon got my own back when he managed to misspell “family”.

My month at Lok Seva Sangam has been an unforgettable one and one in which I’ve experienced and seen all the things I could imagine and more. It was lonely at times since I went there by myself, but, on the other hand I would recommend to everyone taking a gap year to spend a period of time by themselves. However, the volunteers were good value and we kept each other amused and motivated even through the dullest of times.



Marathon Des Sables

Update: February 2020

In 2019, Sammy Scane and Felix Rotter, two young guys from Uppingham (Adam’s old school) decided they wanted to raise some money for the Foundation and entered the Marathon Des Sables, one of the most gruelling multi-stage adventures through a mythical landscape in one of the most inhospitable environments - the Sahara desert.


This involved being self-sufficient as they had to carry all their own food and equipment for the week on their backs. Berber tents were pitched every night but apart from that, you have to take it with you. Sammy writes:

“Neither Felix or I quite understood the magnitude of the challenge we had signed up for until we found ourselves waking up at 6am in the middle of nowhere to begin racing through dune after dune towards a finish line that was nowhere to be seen. Even though this morning “ritual” became no less challenging as each day began, the breathtaking vastness of the desert and incredible sunrise that we set off to each morning quickly replaced our anxiousness with nothing but awe (besides a few extra pains here and there!)

However, with each day came a new challenge for us to overcome - from a steep mountain climb in the 35 degree mid-afternoon heat to 13km of uninterrupted dunes as we passed through Erg Chebbi - and although some seasoned runners were beginning to pull out after the first couple of days, Felix and I spurred each other to run through the pains and aches, and kept moving towards the end of each stage. It was ultimately the messages of support from our family, friends and supporters that really kept us from dropping out, and knowing that so many of them were following our progress throughout the day helped those difficult moments seem a little less daunting.

Considering that neither one of us had completed a race like the Marathon des Sables before, we were beyond proud of ourselves to have completed it and knowing we were able to support those less fortunate through the Adam Cole Foundation made the whole experience all the more worthwhile. It was an incredible experience that I would do again in a heartbeat (Felix is a little less keen….!) Thank you to everybody who sponsored us and helped to make this challenge so rewarding!”


Sammy & Felix raised just over €7,200 which with the added gift aid totals almost €8,000, a magnificent sum and our grateful thanks to them both.


2016 Amazon Jungle Marathon - 270Km

In 2014 one of the Foundation's trustees' Benjamin Elson (aka Erol), ran in the Cambodia marathon and struck up a relationship with a fellow competitor, Andy Turner, who hails from Australia. During some quiet moments during their time together, Erol told Andy about the Adam Cole Foundation for which he was raising money and Andy was so taken with this that he decided to donate funds which he hoped to raise by running the 2016 Amazon Jungle Marathon.

This took place last November over a total of 270Km through some of the toughest terrain imaginable, with temperatures topping 40 degrees and humidity close to 100%. It  comprised six stages over seven days, with the shortest stage 24Km and the longest 108Km, this latter stage entailing running through the night.


It is hard to imagine how draining this race must be, so please see the following link to see what Andy had to endure over the seven days.

Not only did Andy raise over $3300 for the Foundation but he was also the winner of the race, and the first Australian to do so.


Many congratulations to Andy and our thanks for the funds.

Great Wall of China Marathon - Completed!

Becky Elson has completed her Great Wall of China Marathon and finished 221st out of 875 men and women who started.


Becky says: "What an amazing/awesome/tough/challenging experience. Alex and I finished in 5hours 43 mins - 11th in our age category and 64th women overall. This was no normal marathon (to give you an idea the first woman crossed the line in 4 hours 15 mins and the first man in 3 hours 30 mins.) We had a lot of laughs, lots of lows and a lot of 'what the hell are we doing' moments, but we helped each other through it and I am SO happy it's over!



There were a total of 5,164 steps on the wall and a lot of uphill road running that seemed never ending - running through small villages and high fiving children on the side of the road. An amazing experience to be somewhere so iconic - the views were incredible. I am now safely back in Hong Kong and back to reality.


Thank you SO much to everyone who sponsored me".

Becky has raised a staggering £3,091 which means that we have enough to build an Action Club in Praing village in Cambodia and have reached the target to build and equip the playground as well. This is amazing and many thanks to all donors on behalf of the Adam Cole Foundation. Anything over target will be used for educational and sporting materials for this club, so if you would still like to donate, please feel free. The link is www.justgiving.com/rebecca-elson

Our very grateful thanks to Becky for completing this awesome run and raising £3,091.

Great Wall of China Marathon

Becky Elson, wife of Erol Elson, one of the trustees, lives in Hong Kong and plans to run the Great Wall of China Marathon which takes place on the 21st May 2016. You can find out more about the marathon here

This is widely considered one of the world's most challenging marathons and Becky says "I have been training hard and now it's getting closer I'm a little nervous!

I am looking for sponsorship to keep me motivated and am raising money for the Adam Cole Foundation. Part of the work the charity does is through Action Aid in Cambodia and as Asia has been our home now for over three years, I would love to give something back. I am aiming to raise money to help build on the incredible work the Foundation has done in Cambodia. To date, the Foundation has successfully set up seven Children's Action Clubs in the Sre Ambel district, and if I can raise £1085 we can build and equip another playground. If I can raise £2232 we can build another Club in the poverty–struck area of Praing, where they already have 38 children registered but no materials to run the Club.

I really appreciate any money you can spare and I know it will help spur me on during the monster climb of the great Wall!"

Further information on what the Foundation has already achieved in Cambodia is available on this website and this is a mighty task that Becky has set herself, so please sponsor her at: www.justgiving.com/rebecca-elson

The Spartan Race in Tuxedo Ski Resort 2015

One of the Foundation's Trustees, Mark Simpson, decided to enter the Spartan Challenge to raise money for the Foundation. The winter Tuxedo ski resort is transformed into one of the toughest Spartan obstacle courses and the race was run in the New York heat at the end of May, and involved 15 obstacles to get over / under / lift etc. The constant up and down of the hills is only interrupted by Spartan obstacles like the giant uphill mud crawl!

Simmo said "I'm unfit, I hate running and I hate running uphill even more!v; Even so, he completed the course and raised £1,617 for the Foundation.

The London Marathon 2015

Verity Hope-Hawkins ran the London Marathon this year on behalf of the Foundation. She says:

"The race has been run and a cloud of Deep Heat follows me wherever I go. Those of you who know me will understand that this marathon was no small undertaking. I got there after a great deal of training and with the help of physios strapping me up weekly and rehabilitating my knees and hip. I ran the Virgin London Marathon because I hoped to raise as much cash as possible for the Adam Cole Foundation".

This was Verity's first marathon and she raised the magnificent sum of £4,078.


Benjamin (Erol) Elson's run through Cambodia - December 2014

Erol Elson, one of the Foundation's Trustees who now lives in Hong Kong with his wife Becky and their two children, took part in a multi stage 225Km run through Cambodia to raise funds for the Foundation.

Starting just north of Phnom Penh over a 6 day period, the runners made their way up to Siem Reap, ending at the world famous Angkor Wat temple in sweltering midday heat (35 degrees and humid!!)

Erol sent a daily email blog to keep us updated and a section of this is attached after he completed 62Km on the third day:

"Might just leave it there - 62Km in the blazing sun. Just awful! Not one part was fun, but it's not meant to be a holiday! It was very tough - I think 5 runners pulled out today. The first 30Km was in the woods on sandy rutted tracks, then 32 Km on a straight road. It was very tough and, again, I was running on my own. First 20Km went well then I had a bad 20Km, then the remainder was OK'ish, and finished in just under 10 hours. I have 2 black toes and am exhausted but happy I got through today. 29Km tomorrow, then 44Km next day and the following day the remaining 17Km - just want to finish now. Need some sleep, though. Only got 3 ours last night and ate nothing all day. Overall, it was a great experience but much harder than I was expecting. The heat/humidity and lack of sleep were the main factors that impacted on us all. The nasty freeze-dried food was not helpful either. But I am pleased that I finished and am proud to have done this race and raised a good amount of money. The run put new meaning to the expression - blood, sweat and tears!!"

Erol raised over £10,000 from his magnificent effort and, having already built 4 Action Clubs in Cambodia, we decided to utilise this money to build a 5th Club.

Alexander Haslam Tackles The Atacama Desert Crossing - May 2012

Alexander Haslam, one of the FoundationTrustees who now lives in Hong Kong with his wife Emily, ran the Marathon des Sables in 2006 raising £4,000 for the Foundation. The MDS is a 250 km race through the desert of North Africa.

This year he decided to push himself even further and entered The Atacama Desert Crossing in Chile which is also a 250km race across a rainless plateau, recognised as the driest place on earth. The course takes competitors across a wide variety of terrains and includes approximately 3,500 metres of ascents and descents over the 7 day self supported race.


Alexander said after the event that the race was wonderful, though at times tough but an incredible experience. The desert was rather stark and rough, but beautiful and at approximately 3,000m above sea level and located at the foothills of the Andes mountain range the landscape is transformed by their huge, snowcapped peaks which followed them throughout the race.


Alexander came 12th overall out of approximately 180 starters and was the second placed British runner and in the process raised an astonishing £4,500 for the Foundation.

Erol the Christmas Elf - Friday 23rd December 2011

Erol dug out his elf costume once again this year and raised £5,500 for the Foundation by collecting donations on the JP Morgan trading floor.

Christmas Elf

Every Step Counts 10k Run - 10th September 2011

The Every Step Counts 10k Run took place at the stunning Richmond Riverside by Ham House and along the riverside.

2011 10k Run

2011 10k Run

The Adam Cole Foundation 10k Run - 12th September 2010

10k Run

The Foundation's next project is to build a primary school in Cambodia. The school would educate 800 pupils. We organised the Adam Cole Foundation 10k Run which took place in Greenwich Park on 12th September to raise money for this fantastic project.

Summer Sports Camp - August 2010

The ACF and Uppingham School provided a 3 day sports camp for S London children in August. 30 children came up to Rutland and stayed in a boarding house. Activities included:

- Kite making
- Rugby and football coaching
- Cycling round Rutland Water
- Karaoke
- BBQs

Sixth Formers from Uppingham were on hand to assist the staff from Uppingham, Salmon Centre and Southwark Tigers. The camp was a great success! See this feedback from the Salmon Centre:


Our thanks to Uppingham School and Mark Glatman.

The London Marathon - April 2010

Emily Brookes ran the London Marathon this year and raised £1500 for the Adam Cole Foundation in the process. Emily explains why she ran for the charity below:

"It doesn't take a lot of imagination when watching the news to see that there are many children who need the opportunity to find hope in something else and the Adam Cole Foundation does that through sport. It helps disadvantaged children, who have not perhaps had the opportunities we have been lucky enough to experience, to get involved in something positive - sport. It helps them learn discipline, team work, confidence and most importantly pride in their achievements.

I am particularly proud to be running for the charity as they have been waiting for four years to earn a 'bond' place in the London marathon and this year they have been awarded one and they've given it to me - it's obviously very touching to be chosen but it does mean I need to do them proud."

The Cazenove Reindeerol - Christmas Eve, 2009

After the success of the Elf last year, Erol dressed up as a Reindeerol on the Cazenove trading floor raising over £5,000. The Reindeerol managed to cross Moorgate and visit Smith Williamson's offices as well so a big thank to all at Cazenove and Smith Williamson who donated.


ACF 10km Run, Greenwich Park, 6th September 2009

The first ACF 10k was held on Sun 6th Sept, in Greenwich Park. 301 entries made for a competitive race up and down a hilly course in Greenwich. Many thanks to all who took part and raised money.

10km start

10km finish

The Cazenove Christmas Elf - Wednesday 24th December 2008

Erol dressed up as an elf on the Cazenove trading floor on Christmas Eve. The Elf raised £4,000 for the Foundation.

Christmas Elf

Foundation Golf Day - Friday 22nd August 2008

The Foundation hosted a golf day on the 22nd August at Roehampton in South West London. The day was a great success with 8 four balls heading out on a glorious late-summer's day. £2,500 was raised on the day, and the Foundation would like to thank Alistair Cook and all at Roehampton for allowing us to use their course and gardens afterwards for the BBQ.

Golf Day

Norseman Ironman - Saturday 9th August 2008

After 6 months of training for 15+ hours a week, including 3 marathons, two half marathons (including the ACF group effort in Reading) and a number of 100 mile+ cycle events, Richard Penny competed in the Norseman race in August 2008. Recognised as the hardest Ironman distance in the world, the Norseman includes a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 26-mile run. Richard completed the race in 16 hours 12 minutes 16 seconds and raised £4024 in sponsorship for the Foundation.

Norseman Bike

Norseman Run

Reading Half Marathon - 2nd March 2008

On March 2nd 2008, a team of 78 of Adam's friends met together and ran the Reading Half Marathon. Everyone was running to raise money for the Foundation. Abercrombie and Fitch got the ball rolling by donating $1000 to the Foundation and offered a gift token of $750 to the highest fundraiser - won for the Foundation by Mrs B Cole with £3,000. In total the Reading event raised over £35,000 for the Foundation.

Reading Half Marathon 2008

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Charity Dinner - 6th June 2007

The Foundation hosted a Charity Dinner on 6th June 2007. Guest speakers were Martin Corry and Martin Johnson from rugby's hall of fame. Hosted by Matt Poole and the auction run superbly by "Fingers", the evening was a great success raising £40,000 for the Foundation.

Charity Dinner 2007

Kyrgyzstan climb - May 2007

Erol and Patrick Woodhead reached the summit of, and named a previously unclimbed mountain in Kyrgyzstan for the Foundation, naming it Mount Coley. They raised £20,000 in the process. The climb was kindly sponsored by Cazenove.

Mountain Coley

Marathon Des Sables - April 2007

Tom Watson ran the Marathon des Sables for the Foundation in 2007, raising £5,000 in the process.

Tom Watson - Marathondessable106