The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and London Marathon Events Ltd started working together in the run up to the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, which fell on the 25th anniversary of Stephen’s death. We were proud that for the first time, 10 people took part in the event as part of #StephensTeam, raising much needed funds for the Trust.

Following the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, we worked closely with London Marathon Events Ltd to design a project together. On Stephen’s birthday, 13th September 2018, we launched a ground-breaking competition for part 1 architecture students and recent graduates to design the mile 18 marker for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon. Mile 18 was chosen as Stephen was 18 years old when he died.

The competition was intended to mark the first national Stephen Lawrence Day and to reflect Stephen’s own aspiration to pursue a career in architecture as well as his love of running and genuine connection with the London Marathon. He ran in the Mini London Marathon in 1988 and was a member of Cambridge Harriers.

In keeping with our shared commitment to supporting young people, the competition was designed to mirror the process of a professional architecture competition, creating both a learning experience for aspiring young architects as well as enabling them to develop materials for their portfolio.

As part of the learning process, Arena Group, the company that builds the mile markers every year, hosted a day at their warehouse for shortlisted teams to learn about how the mile markers are built and talk about how their designs could be refined and realised. This has been an excellent example of how good partnership working can grow, as Arena have continued as very active partners in the process and have brought new benefits, including providing training for working at height to the winning team.

In February 2019, London Marathon Events Ltd and the Trust hosted an exhibition of the shortlisted designs at the Stephen Lawrence Centre, giving all our entrants the opportunity to showcase their work. The exhibition was attended by architecture practices, community groups, students of architecture and pupils from local schools and featured on BBC Drivetime.

We used the launch of the exhibition to announce the winning concept ‘Because of Stephen we can’, designed by three Part 1 graduates – Ayanna Blair-Ford, Shreeya Radia, Quincy Haynes – all from separate London-based architecture practices. Quincy is also a member of the Trust’s Building Futures programme, which inspires and enables young people to study and qualify as architects.

The design, which celebrates the life and legacy of Stephen Lawrence, incorporated brightly coloured plaques with quotes from young people describing the personal impact that Stephen Lawrence’s life and legacy has had on them. The structure also projected a mix of music and brief audio clips of people describing Stephen’s impact.

We were incredibly excited to see the design come to life at the Marathon, celebrating the first national Stephen Lawrence Day. And this year, we were lucky to have 12 people running in the event, including our Chief Executive, Sonia Watson.

Working with London Marathon Events Ltd has been an amazing partnership, supporting us to raise much needed funding, bringing in new organisations to work with us, helping us to raise the profile of our work, and giving aspiring architects new opportunities.

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