A WIRRAL headteacher is more than 600 miles into a run to raise awareness of the 25th anniversary of Bosnian war genocide and urging Globe readers to take up their own running challenge.

Steve Baker was due to visit Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 men and boys were murdered in July 1995, and also run down Sarajevo’s notorious "Sniper’s Alley” where civilians were repeatedly shot by Serbian forces.

But, after coronavirus hampered a planned visit to the Balkans, Steve - executive headteacher of Kilgarth and Gilbrook Schools in Woodchurch - has now decided to run 1007 miles - the equivalent distance from London to Sarajevo - in the UK.

Steve is urging everyone to get involved with raising awareness about the Bosnian Genocide, although he understands not everyone has the stamina or time to run 1007 miles, and wants people to run or walk 70km next month.

He said: "I am worried due to Covid-19 the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide will not get the worldwide recognition it deserves so I wanted to do something about it.

"I want to run the distance from London to Sarajevo which is 1007 miles. I'm hoping to do this before the end of 2020 but it is the equivalent of running a park run every day.

"I should have led a delegation to Bosnia and I was going to do my daily run in Sarajevo down Sniper Alley.

"I've currently been running every day for the last 112 days and as I'm just over 650km I have unofficially crossed into Germany."

The 45-year-old, a former war crimes investigator, is a North West Regional Board member for the charity Remembering Srebrenica which raises awareness about the genocide and educates people in the UK about the importance of community cohesion.

He said: "I regularly speak in schools and prisons about the consequences of hatred and have embarked upon this fundraising challenge to raise awareness of the Bosnian Genocide and the dangers of hatred and intolerance going unchecked."

Urging people to sign up for a running challenge, he said: “The distance 70km or 43 miles is very significant in the history of the genocide. At 4.15pm on July 11 1995, General Mladić and the Serbian army entered Srebrenica which led to 15,000 Bosnian Muslim men trying to escape to the town of Tuzla.

"This is known as the “Death March” as Serbian forces tried to murder as many of the men as they could.

"So, if people want to mark the Bosnian Genocide they can run or walk 43 miles during July, I am delighted Remembering Srebrenica Wirral Community Champion Neil Sledge has agreed to take up the challenge and I hope a lot more will follow him. I’ve already signed up my wife and two daughters.”

Steve has set up a Just Giving page so donations can be made to the charity, which is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningtoremember-stevebaker, and wants people to use the hashtag #RunningToRemember when sharing details of the 70km run or walk.

Dr Waqar Azmi OBE founded Remembering Srebrenica in 2013 and is part funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The charity’s director Amil Khan praised Steve’s athletic inspired efforts.

He said: “Just like Steve, Remembering Srebrenica’s plans for the 25th anniversary have been radically changed due to Covid-19.

“We had to postpone our National Memorial Service at St Paul’s Cathedral but both Srebrenica Memorial Week (July 5-12) and Srebrenica Memorial Day (July 11) will be fitting commemorations to commemorate what the UN called the ‘worst atrocity on European soil since WW2’.

“However, as Steve has shown with imagination and hard work people can mark this important anniversary in their own way, which fits in with this year’s theme Every Action Matters.”

He added: “We really are blessed to have people like Steve and Neil who give up their time for Remembering Srebrenica and they really are an inspiration.”