A GROUP of people representing a social mobility charity — including two of its figureheads — ran the equivalent of two-and-a-half marathons non-stop around the Isle of Wight.

The gruelling 110km challenge was taken on to raise money and awareness for The Talent Tap, which works with Island sixth-formers.

The eight-strong team, which comprised the charity’s CEO, Naomi Ambrose, its founder, Nick Cowley, plus others, including students, ran it all in one go, on a route with more than 1,800m of elevation.

The Island challenge is part of a the Talent Tap's mission to highlight the struggles of disadvantaged young people in rural and coastal areas, including the Isle of Wight, and their connectivity with the mainland — the key to their future.

Naomi conceded it was an incredibly sobering experience.

“The run was incredibly tough. We were in serious pain. We did well to break the back of it overnight, but it was a case of one foot in front of the other to finish it," she said.  

"It was certainly more of a hobble for the last 15 miles. We were spurred on by our family and friends and the kindness of Islanders, who bought us coffees and sponsored us along the way.”

Statistically, for school leavers in particular, the Island is one of the worst places in the UK for social mobility — 522nd out of 533 in the Social Mobility Index per constituency of England — which has resulted in the Island having much fewer people employed in professional and managerial roles than the rest of the UK, the charity explains.

The charity has described the Island as a 'social mobility cold spot'.

The team set a £30,000 fundraising target to support young Islanders facing socio-economic and geographical barriers, so they can access The Talent Tap's career enhancing programme, designed to put them on a level playing field with those from more privileged backgrounds.

It costs £1,500 to fund one student on the charity’s programme for a year. 

Young people from Year 13 can apply to the Talent Tap, to receive up to four years' funded support, which includes bursaries to visit universities, residential work experience opportunities in major UK cities, employability training, introductions to a network and mentoring.  

Nick added “The Island is the most beautiful place to run around. The scenery is magnificent and the Islanders so welcoming.  

"But you also become aware there are many remote areas and seaside resorts cut off from professional opportunities.  

"We hope our programme can counter the mantra of ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’, by giving young people from these areas insight into careers they could not access without our support.”

There are success stories from the Island who have taken advantage of Talent Tap.

Abigail Keyte, who attended Christ the King College, works for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, while former Ryde Academy student, Sam Marchbank, has started a graduate trainee job with Lloyds Banking Group in Bristol.

Sam said: “The support The Talent Tap has given me has been incredible. 

“A lot of the skills I've learned and the experience that has got me to this point, has been through the charity. 

"They have given me the springboard for me to get where I am today.”