Profile picture of David Smart.

Supply Teacher, Cookridge Community Run Organiser and Entrepreneur

In 2020, as well as teaching, I started up my second business, Jungle Kids.

Why I chose Leeds Trinity

I wanted to go to Leeds Trinity as it was a small campus and it was such a welcoming environment.  It also offered the course that I really wanted to study.

My best student memories

At Leeds Trinity I enjoyed the social aspects of the bar and playing football. I only participated in football at a recreational level but made some really good friends along the way.

Course wise, I really enjoyed the whole experience of making a short film about a local black-belt Karate expert who was only 5 feet tall. The film is all about transforming lives and it was inspirational to film a truly unique person in the local community. As a group we got a really good mark for this project, which was the icing on the cake.

David Smart at run with brother .

Learning from my placement experience

During my time at the University I undertook three placements. I realised through the first placement, which was at a nightclub in Leeds, this wasn’t for me and to gain key experience that would be more beneficial to my aspirations, I had to be proactive in sourcing one myself.  I turned what was the negative at the time into a positive and became more independent and more efficient with my time management because of it. I also learnt that I had to step out of my comfort zone to get the best opportunities possible.

My subsequent placements were both in schools. During my third year I made a video for the school during my placement, this was something that really inspired me to be a Primary School Teacher.

My career after Leeds Trinity

In 2008 I went to another university and studied a Sports degree part time and then complete a PGCE in PE in 2012. On top of the studies I have gained a wide range of coaching qualifications. All these have benefitted me in offering the best experience for the sports coaching sessions I organise and manage during weekends.

David Smart Gareth Dunn pic for profile .

Being inspired to make a difference

In 2019 I set up the Cookridge Community Run with the Dunn family, after their son Gareth (pictured above) passed away, aged 27, from secondary lung cancer in October 2018. Gareth had previously been diagnosed with a Synovial Sarcoma in his foot and had to have his right leg amputated from the knee down. Despite his adversities, Gareth was an active sportsman and had been selected to train across five disciplines with the British Paralympic squad ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Gareth often trained around Golden Acre Park – a few minutes from his home in Cookridge, he ran the London Marathon in 2018. After he completed this on one leg the idea of the Cookridge Community Run came alive and he told me I had to do it not for him, but for me, so that I could plan something and follow it through.

Almost 400 runners took part in the inaugural run in May 2019, raising £10,000 for Cancer Research UK and Older People’s Action in the Locality (OPAL). The money raised will go towards funding for Sarcoma research and OPAL’s mission to reduce loneliness and isolation amongst old people. Read the story here.

Launching another business

In 2020, as well as teaching, I started up my second business, Jungle Kids, which provides before and after school childcare for children attending Cookridge Primary Schools.  A great deal of the philosophy behind this business comes from what I have experienced as a parent myself, after taking the kids to various clubs and training events. When this was launched in January, it was fully booked.

My advice to others

Speaking from my experience, I would say be proactive and use your initiative to get the best opportunities that can benefit you in the future. If you sit back and wait for things just to happen, you won’t get the best options to progress your career and CV. Once you find your passion, offer the best service possible. I am forever looking at how coaching sessions are organised by others as well as analysing my own sessions, to offer the best and most professional experience possible.

Opportunities for others

I would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in finding out more about the Cookridge Run, whether it is taking part or gaining valuable experience as a volunteer. Find out more about the Cookridge run here.