A west Suffolk assistant school principal is set to take on the TCS London Marathon, raising money for a school trip to the beach as well as donations for the National Autistic Society. 

Ryan Thomas, 35, will run the 26.2-mile event on Sunday, April 21, while 251 students at Beck Row Primary Academy, near Bury St Edmunds, are set to complete the TCS Mini London Marathon at their school in May.

The money raised will see the whole school take a day out to Hunstanton in Norfolk to play on the beach and visit the sea life centre.

Mr Thomas, who is the school's special educational needs co-ordinator, also plans to make a donation to the National Autistic Society.

"Over 50% of our children have never been to the beach so what probably sounds like quite a simple thing is actually quite life-changing to them," he said.

Mr Thomas had a pleurectomy, a lung operation, aged 19 after his lung kept collapsing and, a keen runner, was told he would never be able to run a marathon.

However, this never stopped him as Sunday's marathon will be his fifth since 2013. 

"Anything is possible for anyone. It's working within your means and your drive to do that," he said.

Mr Thomas was inspired by a former pupil at an autism school in Cambridge who died aged 15 in 2021.

"Andy was in my form group. He had pathological demand avoidance (PDA)," he said.

"A really tragic part of his downfall, I suppose, was that when doctors were trying to get him to have treatment and do things, the brain was saying otherwise."

He continued: "He inspires me. He was a child who made immense progress in what he was doing but just didn't get the opportunity.

"When you are 19 miles into your training run and thinking 'oh my toe hurts', you just think 'Ryan, come on'.

"I wish it had never happened but if I can do things to keep his memory going, absolutely I will."

Mr Thomas, who got a place through the Team TCS Teachers scheme, is looking forward to showing the children his TCS London Marathon medal.

He said: "There's no better way to inspire them than to show you can do it.

"So many of our children have never been to London and even the thought of me going there is mind-blowing, hence the trips that we are putting on. They are definitely inspired."

To sponsor Ryan, visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ryan-thomas-5?utm_term=jEmVnKWQJ