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Crawley student fighting her way to Olympic success

At just 12 years old, Keira Austin a student at Thomas Bennett Community College has been making the School proud with her incredible Karate achievements.



Keira was just 7 years of age when she started her karate classes and within a year, she had already won her first competition coming first in weapons, second in sparring and first in kata.

Keira’s passion and dedication to the sport has most recently taken her to Ireland where she participated in an international fighting competition with over 4,000 participants from all over the world.  During the lead up to the competition Keira was training on a daily basis totalling to approx. 13 hours a week.

In November Keira will enter another major competition in Blackpool, which if she is to win, will place her in the England national team. For this competition Keira’s Mum is hoping to gain a strong sponsorship to help with expenses as well as recognition from prestigious fighting organisations which will put Keira on to an even stronger path.

All of this experience and the national competitions Keira has entered are helping to move her up the ladder and pursue her final goal of becoming a professional fighter in the Olympics.

Alongside all of this, Keira is now taking part in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes which she attends for 2 hours a week.  Keira hopes that learning another style of fighting will assist her as she becomes older in becoming fully flexible and able to take part in many different types of competitions and tournaments whether it be karate or wrestling.

Head Teacher, Stuart Smith says,

“Keira’s achievements and outstanding dedication are absolutely admirable for someone so young.  We are incredibly proud of Kiera and all of her success.  With such an amazing work ethic and great commitment we feel sure that Keira’s dream of becoming an Olympic fighter will come to fruition.  We wish Keira the very best of luck at her competition in November.”


Crawley pupils reduce local CO2 by Three Tonnes

In just two weeks Crawley school children reduced local air pollution by six kilogrammes of dangerous nitrogen oxide (NOx) and almost three tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by walking, biking and scootering to school, instead of travelling by car.



Pupils at Waterfield Primary School with Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability and Patrick Alexander, Bike It Officer at Sustrans.

As part of cycling and walking charity Sustrans’ annual Big Pedal challenge, children from eight Crawley schools used human power for an astonishing 18,284 journeys. 

This comes hard on the heels of two important new pieces of research:

  • Sustrans published YouGov data in March which showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of teachers would support a school gate vehicle ban during drop-off and pick-up times and that more than half (59%) want urgent Government action to improve air quality near schools
  • Public Health England called on local authorities in March to limit transport emissions urgently, banning idling car engines around schools and investing in foot and cycle paths.

NOx can cause breathing problems, reduced lung function and damage teeth. CO2 is a major contributor to climate change. In Crawley children travelled 12,655 miles actively during the challenge, which equates to travelling almost half way around the world. The reduction in CO2 and NOx was calculated by comparing this to the amount generated if all these journeys had been taken by car.

Councillor Geraint Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said:

“It is fantastic to see an increasing number of schools in Crawley taking part in the Sustrans Big Pedal, whilst promoting sustainable travel to young people.”

Children at Waterfield Primary have won special recognition from Sustrans for their Big Pedal achievements, receiving a certificate in a presentation attended by Cllr Geraint Thomas. The Bike It Crew at Waterfield Primary are notoriously competitive. They held a Bike It Breakfast, Bling your Bike and daily assemblies to mass up a total of 4,386 journeys and a total score of 76.91%. 

Justin Moss, the Deputy Head of Waterfield Primary said,

“Our pupils are so motivated when it comes to travelling sustainably; they’re also very competitive. They walk, scoot and cycle regularly so the Big Pedal has been amazing for us over the past few years. We regularly talk about the benefits of exercise with the children in whole school assemblies and because of this the children understand the differences it can make to their moods and their ability to engage in their learning.

“At Waterfield we have an elected Bike It Crew and the Big Pedal is their biggest job during the year. They have worked tirelessly to encourage teachers and children to continue to travel sustainably as well as organising events and judging the Bling your Bike competition. I am extremely proud of them and all of their achievements this year.”

Hot on their heels was Seymour Primary, who organised Bike Days for all children from years three to six. These days provided an opportunity for children to progress their bike skills and have a go on the bike obstacle course. On these days the school was flooded with bicycles, scooters and active children.

Across Crawley eight schools took part, from a potential 35. While we can’t say what the impact would be if it was replicated across Crawley even just for two school terms these findings raise interesting questions.

Sustrans’ Regional Director for the South, James Cleeton, said,

“The children, families and schools of Crawley have shown how individuals can dramatically improve the world around them, by replacing cars with human power for just part of the daily routine.

“These children haven’t just prevented the emission of dangerous, invisible pollutants around their schools, but they’ve improved their mental and physical health, giving all of them a better start to the school day.

“At Sustrans, we’re so grateful to every local authority, school, teacher, parent and child who has helped make this possible. What a great start to summer – and a glimpse of what school mornings in Crawley could be like in future.”

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