Inspirational Jane was a mum first

Thornhill Community Academy’s straight-talking headteacher Jonny Mitchell showed the world what life in the classroom is really like in the award-winning TV documentary series Educating Yorkshire.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 24th March 2014, 9:00 am
Jonny Mitchell
Jonny Mitchell

Now he writes exclusively for the Reporter Series.

Every week he will give us his take on life in and outside school from his hometown in Dewsbury.

I feel I just absolutely have to start with a response to my grammar challenge from a fortnight ago – and this is it! PLEASE read the whole article before bombarding me on Twitter with the criticism that I wrote “it’s” in the first paragraph instead of “its”. I did ask you to find the additional deliberate error, after all!

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And, no – using “different than” where I used it is NOT incorrect. If I had written “different from” it would mean something completely different. Would I genuinely not completely double, nay triple-check my grammar for this particular piece?

But thank you, everyone, for your comments. The mantle of Supreme Grammar Gauleiter is well and truly up for grabs. And, no doubt, I am going to be very closely scrutinised from this point to make sure I do not commit any heinous acts. Look at the monster I created!

Anyway, rant over...

I had the privilege this week of meeting Mike Tomlinson, widower of Jane, who passed away in 2007 having succumbed to an aggressive cancer, but only after she had helped to raise the best part of £2m for worthy causes running and cycling (mainly) phenomenal distances, often in immense pain. Nobody present in the very moving assembly to our Year 11 students could fail to have been humbled by her inspirational achievements, nor indeed by the quiet and dignified way in which Mike spoke so fondly of his wife and what she meant to him.

Having been part of the official launch of the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k Run, which will take place in Leeds on Sunday July 20 this year, I want to encourage anyone who might be inclined to take part to register for the event – knowing what Jane achieved in her condition, it really cannot be too much to ask for others to make the personal sacrifice of running a few miles for good causes.

Now in its eighth year, the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k Run for All is supported by over 10,000 runners and is a great choice for beginners as well as more experienced runners. The race starts and finishes in Leeds city centre and you can register by visiting the website at

First and foremost, though, Jane was a mother. And the real reason for mentioning her in the column this week was to remind us all of the sacrifices mothers make for us. Granted, not all of them have suffered the same level of adversity as Jane endured. But, every day, they mop up the messes we make, smooth over the problems we cause, hug us when we are upset and laugh with us when life is good.

And I recognise from my own professional experience the crucial role mothers can play in their children’s development. I know I owe my own mother a huge debt of gratitude – but she would never ask a thing of me, save that I make sure I am happy.

And with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I reckon we could all learn a thing or two about humility and generosity from these often unsung heroines in our lives.

So, on a personal level, thank you Mum. And, if you can, do something nice for your mother this weekend. And if you cannot, for whatever reason, spare five minutes to reflect and think about everything she has done for you, however insignificant it might seem.