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St Joseph’s & St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School

St Joseph's & St Gregory's
Catholic Primary School

Dear Parents and Carers

January 2020 welcomed the start of a new decade, as well as the beginning of my 10th year as Headteacher of St Joseph’s and St Gregory’s Primary School. There had been many challenges and achievements in that time which drew on my resourcefulness and resilience. I asked the school directors for a sabbatical (unpaid leave); a period of time to reflect-on, refresh and renew my professional development and this was agreed. I left school that year in February to start my trip and within weeks schools were closed due to a world-wide pandemic. I returned to school and took charge once again.

I am now celebrating my 12th year as Headteacher and wish to complete the trip I started two years ago.

I set off at the end of the month to compete in Leg 6 and Leg 7 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2019-2020. The race will re-start in the Philippines, where I will be involved in preparing the boat for our journey. I will race with my team across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle in the USA. After a short stay, the race will continue down the west coast of the United States to Panama, through the Panama Canal and up the Eastern seaboard of the US, arriving in Bermuda where Leg 7 finishes. I will then fly back to the UK for the end of the Summer Term. This experience will give me the opportunity to extend my leadership knowledge whilst also gaining new skills and life experience. I hope to inspire the children and achieve a lifelong ambition of sailing across an ocean. I applied for and gained a place as a crew member in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in May 2018 and  have undertaken five weeks of training (during my holidays); learning to sail and live on an ocean racing yacht. I am a crew member on Qingdao, a yacht sponsored by the Chinese city of Qingdao.

Meanwhile, the school will be well led by Mrs Otter (Acting Headteacher) and the Trust and school senior leadership team. The children will follow my boat, Qingdao, as it continues to race around the world.

I have led several assemblies in school explaining my adventure to the children. They know about the ‘Dragon Boat’ and have heard tales of the yacht’s journey so far. They will share in the race re-start in the Philippines and track my progress on the boat as it travels the world’s oceans. As part of a racing team, my aim is to learn more about being led as well as leading, reflect upon the impact of relationships in setting and achieving aims and hopefully about creating winning teams – wish us luck and fair winds! I hope to inspire our children to have a goal, teach them that anything is possible and to take advantage of every opportunity given to them.

I look forward to staff and children finding inspiration in the challenge I’ve taken on and enjoying sharing my experiences of the countries, cultures and characters I engage with on my journey.

I invite you to follow the race online at the following addresses:

You can discover all about the race, boats and teams at:

Track how each boat is doing in the race (live!) at:

Mine is the red dragon boat, Qingdao.

Find my profile at:


Lisa Sumpter