'Today we ran to remember Jack and raise awareness for Learning Together. I am finding today really hard. That’s okay though, I’ve learnt not to wrestle with my grief. I have to let it be'HollieJ2193/TWitter

A fitness fundraising challenge has raised thousands of pounds in the memory of Jack Merritt, a Cambridge Criminology Graduate who was killed in November.

Hundreds of people joined the ‘#runningforjack’ challenge on Sunday (17/05), which encouraged participants to run, walk or cycle and upload photos of their activity on social media.

This was accompanied by a crowdfunding page, in which more than 1500 people had donated over £32,000 by Monday 18th. The money will be given to the Institute of Criminology’s Learning Together programme, for which Jack was a course coordinator.

The challenge began after the Hackney Half Marathon, which Jack’s friends were planning to run on Sunday, was postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Jeffi van Hees, one of the organisers of the ‘#runningforjack’ challenge, told Varsity that Jack's friends understood the need to postpone the half marathon but were “disappointed” to not have “the opportunity to celebrate Jack’s life and work and also raise the important funds for Learning Together.”

It was from this that his friends “decided to honour the day and open it up to anyone else who wanted to join in by creating the @runningforjack Instagram account.”

Van Hees explained that the plan was for people to run, walk, or cycle, then “share a selfie to remember Jack Merritt.”

Although van Hees “didn’t expect many people would get involved” when the idea began, she feels “absolutely amazed and a little overwhelmed” by the level of involvement and public donations.

People “as far as Argentina and Pakistan” participated.

Van Hees added: he “sense of community was amazing even though we weren’t able to be physically together.”

The Merritt family, who were critical of the politicisation of Jack's death, wrote that they were “really proud and thankful to everyone who got involved” and recorded a video message for the Instagram page which was created for this weekend’s run.


Mountain View

Hundreds attend vigil in memory of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at the Cambridge Guildhall

Van Hees said the organisers “will definitely be putting on a similar event” next year.

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones were killed in a terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in London in November 2019. The attack targeted an event for the Learning Together initiative, an educational programme which ‘brings together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions’ to ‘study alongside each other in inclusive and transformative learning communities’.

Van Hees feels that the support for Sunday’s fundraiser is “a true testament to the hugely important work Jack lived and died for, but also a really touching tribute to our amazing friend”.