In Lent, the Headmaster set himself the ambitious target of raising £5,000 for the School’s Bursary Fund by walking 90 miles of The Pilgrims' Way from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury.  

“Funding bursary places is something very close to my heart as someone who directly benefitted from that support myself,” he explains. “Funding places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds is central to Freemen’s founding ethos as well as to our mission today.” 

The challenge took six gruelling days of trekking through mud, mud and more mud, up hills, through towns and across vast fields following the route Pilgrims took to the shrine of Thomas Becket, following his murder inside Canterbury Cathedral. 

“I found myself thinking of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer and the demise of Thomas Becket in the quieter moments. There are so many nods to each along The Pilgrim’s Way and it provided a real opportunity for me to reflect as I went. Not quite enough for an epiphany, but still, plenty of thinking time, a chance to consider what I am most thankful for – some days that thought only went so far as a fresh bottle of Radox muscle soak (!) and on others it was an opportunity to dwell on things a bit deeper.” 

Mr Martin continued to work while walking. 

“The weather, phone connection and sheer tiredness all conspired to make my (very) remote working all the more difficult. But I was still able to chair my usual meetings, answer emails and take calls as I went, as well as dialling in to my English classes. 

My Lower 6 English class on the Wednesday morning seemed to enjoy the spectacle of me dialling in via Teams to talk Chaucer. It’s not every day you get to deliver an A Level class in a baseball cap while trying to find shelter from the drizzle.” 



CCF Commander Captain Alex Truelove joined the Head for 17 miles on the Wednesday, for which Mr Martin was very thankful. 

“Those of you who know the Cap won’t need telling that he has an infectious optimism and a willingness to get stuck in, which helped enormously to lighten the load - both physically and mentally.  

Our day together was spent cresting steep hills, getting stuck in thick mud and experiencing a shared shock at our relieved response to finding a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere when lunch options looked dire. He may have been wearing camouflage, but there was no hiding Captain Truelove’s grin!” 

The Headmaster beat his target and to date has raised £7,485 for Freemen’s bursaries. The school’s relationship with The City of London Corporation means that every pound raised for the bursary fund is match-funded, meaning the amount to be donated is £14,970.  

“I am so grateful to everyone who has donated, to the Governors for agreeing a workable way of us achieving this and to my colleagues for ensuring nothing changed in School. It’s been gruelling, brutal, but so worth it. 

Having said all that, I won’t be rushing to do this again in a hurry... Jumping out of a plane would have been quicker!” 

You can still donate to the Headmaster’s trek at