A close friend of a former Bury St Edmunds teacher who died in a car crash in December is running a half marathon this month in his honour.
James Hempel, from Bradfield St George, will be running the Great Barrow Half Marathon on Friday, March 30 in memory of Mark Jones, who died aged 38 in a car crash on the A1123 on December 1.
James met Mark around 12 years ago at Thomas Gainsborough School, then Great Cornard Upper School, when James was a trainee teacher and Mark was head of music.
James’s wife Laura also worked at the school and lived with Mark for a couple of years in Sudbury during that time.
“He was a very gifted musician, he was incredibly creative, very driven and passionate about education,” said James, 35, who works as a supply teacher around Bury.
“But he also had a really fun side and a good sense of humour. He was a good friend.”
Mark taught at King Edward VI School in Bury from December 2015 until August 2017.
He was on his way to work at St Ivos School in Cambridgeshire when he died.
James is taking on the 13.2 mile challenge to raise money for Suffolk Mind - a mental health charity which he believes would be close to Mark’s heart.
“This charity has a big impact in schools and other services and I know Mark would support the help going towards those who are suffering. It’s to futher the legacy of his life,” he said.
James also said that training for the event has helped him cope with the aftermath of Mark’s death.
“Running is definitely helping me. I could be at home lamenting and really upset but I’m trying to get out there and do something,” he said.
“It’s turning something that’s the definintion of a tragedy and working to continue his legacy and get something positive and far-reaching from that.”
James is aiming to raise £1,000 for Suffolk Mind and has already received £600 in donations. To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-hempel1