Peterborough public given chance to decide fate of academy trust chief’s lockdown beard

Pupils, parents and the public in Peterborough are being given the chance to vote on the fate of the lockdown beard grown by Mark Woods, CEO of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT), to raise money for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 8:04 am
CMAT CEO Mark Woods

In March, Mark promised to grow a beard during lockdown and not shave it until all the trust’s students were back in full-time education.

Now that nearly all students have returned to the classroom, the time has come to decide on the fate of the beard.

Two different fundraising campaigns have been set up. People who wish to see Mark shave off his beard should donate to ‘Ban the Beard,’ while people wishing to see the beard stay should donate to ‘Santa Claus.’

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Will Mark be CMAT's very own Santa Claus this year?

The campaign that receives the most donations will be victorious and Mark will either shave the beard or keep it until December.

If Mark’s target of £5,000 hasn’t been reached by the deadline of 6pm on September 30, he is ready and waiting to have the final ‘sleigh’.

The proceeds from both campaigns will go to Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice, in honour of Martin Bacon, the founder and former CEO of CMAT, who received care at the hospice before passing away in 2013.

Mark said:“I can honestly say I haven’t touched my beard since March, it’s seen less attention over the last six months than my passport has.

“While my family are desperate for the beard to go, lots of the students, who I always say have great taste, tell me the beard is growing on them.“This year has been extremely challenging for young people and those working in education so I

created the fundraising campaign as a fun way for our community to come together and, most

importantly, raise money for a cause that is close to our hearts at CMAT.

“Martin loved a daft challenge so I’m sure he would be having a chuckle at this. So please, get voting,

as we want as many people as we can to have their say so we can raise lots of money for Sue Ryder.

“If the beard stays then I will be ready to dye it white and available to play the role of Father

Christmas across our schools and community.”

Nilesh Patel, Senior Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, said: “A big thank you

to Mark and the team for supporting Sue Ryder through this fun and inventive campaign – it’s a real


“We are very grateful for all the support that CMAT and their schools have given us over the years.

“The proceeds we receive from these fundraising efforts are a real help and enable us to continue

providing our expert palliative care to patients and their families.

“We are definitely Team Santa at the hospice!”

CMAT operates across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, working

with both primary and secondary schools including Nene Park Academy, West Town Primary Academy, Sawtry Village Academy and Sawtry Junior Academy.