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James blazes a trail

Monday, 20 March 2017

Former Senior School teacher, house parent and honorary OM, James Shone, whose brain tumour left him blind and partially disabled is embarking on a mammoth 128 mile row of the Thames next month.  He is currently training hard for the epic journey, which will take him from Lechlade to Teddington in aid of his charity 'I Can and I Am' which aims to help young people fulfil their potential.  The challenge is expected to take six days and will see a variety of friends and family helping him in the boat each day. James has spent the last three years visiting hundreds of schools to speak about his personal journey and the importance of "inflating the balloon of self-belief".

The rowing challenge will help raise money for the charity to launch a one-to-one mentoring scheme for teachers to use with their students. "We plan to raise £50,000 during the Thames Challenge 2017 to support projects within state secondary schools for both pupils and staff. We will focus on giving young people the tools to build belief in themselves and to develop the ability to deal with setbacks. I'm incredibly proud of all we have achieved so far for young people in the UK and I can't wait to get started on the next stage of our journey".

Since embarking on his teaching career 16 years ago, James said he fell in love with adding value to young peoples' lives, with "moving people from A to B... with making sure they are OK". James found out about his brain tumour following a medical assessment in the wake his appointment as headmaster of Monkton Prep School in 2012. "It felt like a bolt of lightening," he said.  Over the coming months James underwent two massive operations spending 11 weeks in hospital; the operations saved his life but took most of his sight. Further to this, James had to relinquish a dream job, undergo radiotherapy and then set off into a new future without employment or buoyant health. "Physically I was battling, but my mind and heart felt the same. It cut me open at the core".

"In a funny way going through such a brutal experience almost refined my desire and passion to tell people they've got what it takes." He said he wants to break the "negative cycle so prevalent among young people today" and inspire confidence.
"I'm passionate about inspiring confidence in these young people and I'm hoping to extend my reach in to all sectors of society using funds raised from this project."

James will have a team around him to support him along every mile and the project has already received considerable support, including the generous loan of a 'tub pair' boat by the Leander rowing club.  If you would like to donate please visit James's Just Giving page by clicking here.

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