One of the events that I'm proud to have been able to provide for a great cause.  We provided it for 4 years in a row! VVVVV

1000 women, setting off on a 7 mile walk around Bristol at Midnight on a Saturday - 100 volunteer marshals - how hard can that be?  I volunteered my time (as did some of my team) on this great event.  I provided logistical and risk management advice along with being chief marshal on the night. VVVV

Posted
Authorjp Edgington

From its inception in 2006 The Outer Edge has always had for me some simple but clear goals - Raise the bar - improve standards.  I believed (and that belief has been borne out) that with a little bit of effort, thought and planning that we could deliver events and courses to a higher standard.  Better client experience, improved stakeholder liaison, richer experiences and better staff conditions and job satisfaction.  All this whilst maintaining the nature of the adventure or activity and with increased level of safety.  Easy? hell no but nothing of worth ever is and if I’m going to do something it gets done properly otherwise why bother?

Some of my proudest moments have come as a result of our Charity Event provision.  For me the key was to really understand and have empathy with the perspective of all involved - the pressures, fears, frustrations, aims and aspirations.   

  • The charity and the hard working staff that were often under a lot of pressure to put on events, meet targets whilst staying within budgets and ensure a positive supporter experience which would hopefully lead to better donor retention and repeated support.
    Oh and not to mention the frequent need for new, different or bigger events…
  • The pressure that supporters/participants feel as a result of the promises they’ve made to themselves, the charity and friends and family from whom they’ve asked for sponsorship.
  • The concerns that venue owners have over safety, disruption and security whilst still wishing to fulfil their corporate social responsibility.

Balancing all these needs, perspectives, aims etc along with following best practice in my own industry and creating safe, enjoyable and rewarding working environments for myself and staff was always a challenge but one that we got very good at meeting.

As a result we were able to secure venues that had never been used before (Millenium Dome/O2 arena, Bristol Hippodrome were some of the most memorable).  Put on events that had never been done before (for that particular charity) like 200ft night climbs with a cliff face sleep over (this raised £30k+), unique variations on traditional events (like abseiling from inside the roof of a theatre onto the stage!).

I guess the initial stimulus for the business was to improve standards - not for the benefit of ‘the industry’ but to improve the experience for the individual.  If I could make the venue managers life easier then they’d be more likely to say yes to an event, which would take the pressure off the fundraiser and allow people to push themselves and raise money that would go onto to benefit many people that were supported by the great charities that we worked with.   It was about having the ‘bigger picture’ in mind - the benefits of the benefits.

For some charity abseils are like a monotonous production line of people and if a participant was scared then they moved onto the next - for me (and I was lucky to have staff that shared my beliefs) I understood the fears and aims of those participants and knew that for them the completion of the abseil was often much more than a fun little activity to do. It was the culmination of a lot of pressure, a fear to be faced, it was the keeping of promises to a lot of people.  In that moment when the next participant steps forward I have a very short amount of time to figure out what makes them tick, what approach to take - firm? direct? emotion or logic based? why are they doing this? who are they doing this for? It takes a lot of mental effort to do whilst at the same time handling technical elements like harness checks, tying in ropes etc.  

It was always a privilege to help these people achieve what they set out to do - to provide a great experience to the donor/participant, to create an interesting event that was easier for the fundraiser to recruit for, to address all the concerns that a venue may have before they raise them.  

We didn’t just do charity events - we delivered gorge walking, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, walking, biking and scrambling sessions, we rigged publicity stunts, theatre productions, provided safety rigging for a film, provided safety consultancy for large charity events and safety advice for outdoor centres and climbing walls.

Whilst we gained a reputation for pulling off epics, being highly organised, finding solutions rather than excuses,   it’s always been about inspiring and enabling people to achieve.


Posted
Authorjp Edgington

Its interesting how things turn out.  I never set out to be where I am now but i suppose when I look back I can see where my specific character traits have led me here.  I’ve been out in the hills since my early teens and climbing since I was 17 and started training in the Martial Arts shortly afterwards.  As well as enjoying it personally I derived a lot of pleasure and a sense of purpose from taking friends climbing or showing other students what they missed in class.  This quickly grew into me becoming a Black belt instructor in just 3 years and gaining walking leader and climbing instructor qualifications because I wanted to make sure I was doing things properly.   The 1st events that I organised were Martial arts seminars with some of the top instructors in Europe and then later some of my own. My own seminars often involved some outdoor activities thrown in for good measure.   Fast forward a few years to 2006 and having freelanced with various outdoor companies and providers for a number of years I was frustrated by the lack organisation and client care that I was noticing.   Being a bit of a control freak also didn't lend it self to working for others so the only way forward was to set up on my own.   Early 2006 I had met Karen (during a Charity Abseil at the Avon Gorge!) and after moving to Bristol to be with her we started our plans. Coming up with a name for the business was tricky but on the 7th of August 2006 Karen sent me a txt with yet another name suggestion ‘what about The Outer Edge…?’

Our 1st job was in December - Travelodge were opening a new hotel in Hereford and wanted two guys to abseil down the building dressed as the SAS, throw some smoke grenades about then burst into the building.  How hard could it be?   

Travelodge had also engaged the services of a special effects company to provide the smoke grenades and to set off a large explosion effect just before we burst into the building.  Rigging diagrams, risk assessments and plans were drawn up, equipment and SAS style clothing sourced and all set up ready.  Assembled to witness the grand opening were various local dignitaries including the Mayor, pupils from the nearby primary school and members of upper Travelodge management.

We got ready on the roof and as the theme form Mission Impossible played (cheesy and nothing to do with us but made me smile), we dropped down the side of the building, threw some smoke grenades about and ran towards the door.  In front of the door the special effects guys had set up a large steel ‘bowl’ angled at about 45’.  In it was a small explosive charge, pieces of polystyrene that looked like rocks and a mass of peat. This was covered by some polystyrene tiles.  The plan was that we would pretend to ‘rig’ the door  to explode - stand back, the explosion goes off and in we go.  Well that’s what I did.. Lee was super keen and leapt over the steel bowl and into the building and it went off behind him.  And it went off!! I wouldn’t have called it a small explosion at all and neither did any of the amassed crowd…  The children were crying and the crowd and newly tarmaced  carpark were covered in peat and pieces of polystyrene. Obviously no one was hurt as that was the point of using these materials but I don't think its what they were expecting..  Travelodge were really pleased with the part that we had played and we had our 1st mini epic under our belt..

 

Posted
Authorjp Edgington