Ten-mile trek at dawn as head shows way to school; Pupils to be encouraged to walk to lessons.
RISING hours before dawn, a headteacher from Sefton walked ten miles to school - to practise what he has been preaching to his pupils.
David Iliff, head of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in Seaforth, set off to work from his home in Ormskirk at 4.45am.
Armed only with his iPod full of Talking Heads, the Police and Snow Patrol, he set off on his mission.
Two-and-a-half-hours later, after walking in the dark and meeting no-one but the milkman, he arrived at school ready to talk about International Walk to School month.
Mr Iliff, 44, said: "It was dark when I set off in my luminous orange jacket and walking boots.
"I was able to walk along pavements all the way, I really enjoyed it, and it was quite nice as dawn broke seeing everyone opening up their shops.
"The traffic slowly got worse as I approached Switch Island and Liverpool, but I'm impressed it didn't take as long as I thought it would."
After only six weeks in the job, Mr Iliff opted to walk to work to encourage his pupils to ditch the car and walk for a change.
The challenge coincides with International Walk to School month, which millions of children from across 42 countries take part in.
Mr Iliff said: "There are lots of reasons for taking part, from reducing congestion around the school and reducing our carbon footprint, to health benefits.
"I wanted to practise what I preach and encourage our pupils to walk, which many of them have been doing.
"I know some pupils who've also been asking their parents to drop them off a distance from the school so they can walk in." As chair of Ormskirk Tennis Club and a keen runner who has completed the Great North Run three times, Mr Iliff is hoping to encourage his pupils to be as active as possible.
Building on the success of the week so far, he hopes to make walking buses a regular arrangement and set up roadcrossing patrols on busy roads close to the school.
He also hopes to encourage pupils to cycle to school and future plans include building bike facilities and introducing cycling proficiency classes within school.
Mr Iliff added: "This week, I hoped that if at least one more pupil walked to school we would have made a difference, so I'm delighted so many have taken up the challenge.
"We've been monitoring how many have been taking part and we will be rewarding the class which has done the most walking with pedometers on Friday."
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His feet were made for walking: David Iliff, head teacher at Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Seaforth, with some of his pupils after he walked to work from Ormskirk Picture: EDDIE BARFORD/eb091008fwalk-2