Meet Chris Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing

Chris started Aardvark Marketing in the summer of 2005.  The company he worked for was acquired by Motorola and he had the choice between another employed job in marketing or an opportunity to try something different on his own.  Friends and neighbours said it was a brave decision, but it just seemed the right thing to Chris, although he did wonder if they could see something he couldn’t!

 

Through his previous employed roles, Chris had worked with many agencies and consultancies and liked the idea of the variety working with a portfolio of clients might provide.  “I’m OK with a bit of routine, but I like new challenges too”.  Chris believed there was an opportunity to help small and medium sized businesses approach marketing in a more strategic and structured manner, drawing on his experience working in large companies on some of the best-known brands in the UK and overseas.

 

Chris’ ethos can be summed up as ‘delight the client but be prepared to tell them what they don’t want to hear’.  His belief is that all marketing activity is optional, and it needs to justify itself as an investment decision.  Understanding their clients’ customers, planning carefully and measuring results is critical.  “Our role is to ensure our clients have the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their marketing. “

 

The biggest challenge at Aardvark is to persuade the businesses they could help to talk to them.  Too many businesses focus on trying new ideas or hoping for a ‘silver bullet’ instead of building a robust strategy, implementing marketing activity consistently, and measuring results.  Recommendation and referral are key to the company’s success and they devote a lot of time and energy to nurturing their network of introducers. Aardvark have adopted a strong project management approach with clients to improve efficiency and transparency. Today many of their clients have shared access to their project management system as well as getting regular monthly reports and marketing KPI’s.

 

As the business and the team has grown, there have been changes. Aardvark have shifted their product mix from mainly project work to over 90% retained clients, some of whom have worked with them for 10 years.  They introduced the Marketing MOT around 2010 and the Sales Generator in 2014.  In 2018 the newest service – Marketing Manager – was started specifically for businesses with more limited marketing budgets yet who need the professional and expert support Aardvark provide. The changing business has been noticed and Aardvark have been recognised with 8 awards for excellence and innovation in the last 5 years. These were awarded for a range of services from marketing automation, social media and content marketing to project management and outsourced marketing.

 

According to Chris, the secret to success is being easy to deal with yet prepared to roll your sleeves up and do whatever is required. Most important is to help clients get better results from their marketing and achieve their business goals.

 

Chris Hutchinson met Mark Smith of Lloyds at a networking event over 10 years ago and discovered a shared ambition. Chris recalls their meeting “I liked Mark’s approach to his clients, making the effort to really understand their business. He was either very interested in marketing or was too polite to tell me to shut up!” Mark has introduced Chris to several of his clients, and Chris interviewed some of Mark’s recent ‘wins’ to help him understand in depth how they felt about the decision to switch and the switching experience. Chris was delighted to be asked to support Mark with his Mental Health Marathon.

 

So, what will happen at Aardvark Marketing in the future? “In the current economic climate, predicting the future is a dangerous game!” says Chris. “As with any service business, we need to keep our sales pipeline moving, finding and converting potential new clients, but not at the expense of supporting our existing clients. As the world of marketing continues to change at an ever-increasing pace, so we need to continue to invest time in understanding the new opportunities and how they might help our clients.”

Marks's Mental health Marathon | Aardvark Marketing

Mental Health Seminars – Practical help for you and your business, Tuesday, 16th July

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Lloyds Bank

 

Mental Health Seminars – practical help for you and your business

With everyone becoming more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues amongst our family, friends and colleagues, it’s important that we all understand how to provide practical support for  people who are at risk of poor mental health or diagnosed with a mental health condition.

These are free events are for business owners, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity, Mental Health UK.

In these seminars you’ll learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations and appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Our final speaker will talk about their practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.

We look forward to welcoming you to RGS Worcester in the morning or to Hereford Cathedral School in the afternoon.

 

Date: Tuesday, 16th July

Time: 8am to 11am

Venue: The Godfrey Brown Theatre, Royal Grammar School, Upper Tything,Worcester, Worcestershire. WR1 1HP

To book your place on the Worcester seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com  and put Worcester 16th July seminar in the email.

Agenda

8.00-8.30 – Light refreshments.
8.30             – Opening remarks and introduction.
8.45              – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
9.30              – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
10.15              – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
11.00-11.30  – Close and light refreshments.

Date: Tuesday, 16th July

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Venue: The Powell Theatre, Zimmerman Building,  Hereford Cathedral School, Church Street Hereford, HR1 2NG

Agenda

2.00-2.30 – Light refreshments.
2.30          – Opening remarks and introduction.
2.45           – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
3.30           – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
4.15            – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
5.00-5.30 – Close and light refreshments.

To book your place on the Hereford seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com  and put Hereford 16th July seminar in the email.

 

Lloyds Bank Mental Health Awareness seminars

Meet Martyn Rees of County Building Supplies

Martyn isn’t one for titles or formality. He’s the MD at County Building Supplies which has grown from a “two bloke, one van and a passion to get things done” start-up with his mate David Lloyd in 1987 to a highly successful business group of 6 companies serving 10 locations throughout the Midlands. Starting out as a building merchant the business now has specialist services for Kitchens & Bathrooms, Heating & Plumbing, Renewable Energy and, their latest business, an online car detailing supplier. Customers get free delivery if they are within 20 miles of any location (Cheltenham, Coventry, Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Monmouth, Nuneaton, Tetbury).

The secret to his success is, according to Martyn, running the happiest builders’ merchant in the world. He’s a firm believer that work should be fun as well as business, calls all his staff on first name terms and directs operations in an informal manner. Staff are all treated with the same respect whether they are the newest member or the longest serving area director. He’s not averse to playing the odd practical joke on fellow directors and identified with being the naughty boy at the back of the classroom in his youth. Today he still enjoys working and has absolutely no plans to retire. Fridays are his work from home days but he’s still very ‘hands on’, making good use of his tablet to stay in touch with email and calls. He won’t thank you for a formal introduction either, no MD title is required, he’s just introduced as “Martyn from Malvern” whenever he’s visiting one of their many sites.

Martyn has a knack for getting on with people and immediately makes you feel welcome when you meet him. He loves being a company rep on the road so much that he still goes out every Tuesday and Thursday meeting new customers and catching up with his ‘friends in business’. This week he’s exchanged garden plants with a customer during his visit. Martyn readily acknowledges that his world is price competitive and the business is a member of a larger buying group to ensure their prices are kept as competitive as possible. It’s not all about a direct cost comparison and County Building Supplies will make every effort to get a part out to a customer quickly because they understand that a contractor doesn’t want to be kept waiting several days. This means, unlike some of their competitors, his trade customer won’t have to pick up a hotel accommodation bill because the item isn’t available the exact day he needs it. In his immaculate showrooms, customers are welcomed, given specialist advice and help with their project, and shown the best products for them to achieve what they want whilst getting good value out of their budget.

What’s so impressive about County Building Supplies is staff loyalty. The average length of service in the business is an incredible 18 years! Because he’s created this happy and productive working environment, Martyn has never had a problem with either staff recruitment or retention. He’s proud that one member of staff who joined the business as a ‘Saturday boy’ remembers their progression from their first pay cheque to being promoted through the ranks up to Director level. Taking the initiative is encouraged, with the newest service, car detailing supplies, being run very successfully online by one of the newest and youngest on the team.

Within the industry Martyn is obviously well liked and respected, and he’s on the Board of Directors for his Commercial Buying group, as position he owes to the votes of his fellow members. Martyn admits this is useful for the business as he always has the ear of another MD or Sales Director whenever necessary. It’s his belief that he works in a friendly industry, he recalls a conversation with an economist attending one of the annual trade events and contrasting the friendly welcome with another trade body where hardly anyone spoke to him.

Martyn is very happy to sponsor Mark Smith with his Mental Health Marathon. Martyn’s comments about Mark are that he’s almost too nice to be a bank manager and is always available for a chat, even if this is in the evening. He says Mark always reacts promptly to what he wants, really understands what he wants and will sort it out, fighting his corner if necessary. Martyn continues to expand the business, which he has managed to do consistently through good economic times and recessions, so he appreciates having a good banker on his side. In the pipeline are plans for new sites in Hereford and in Tewkesbury, which I’m sure will be staffed by more of the friendliest people in the business!

 

Marks' Mental Health Marathon | County Building Supplies

Meet Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

Today I met a remarkable man. Ian Smith is chair of Bishop Fleming, the accountancy firm that has made The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 companies to work for‘  list for the last 4 years, as well as a string of regional awards for excellence in professional services and Investors in People.  For Ian, the success of the firm is down to developing the right people; experts in their field who are interested in developing their clients’ businesses. Ian’s ‘little black book ‘is legendary and he prides himself in making introductions from his personal network.

Ian’s responsibilities on the Board include diversity and inclusion. As a carer himself, he understands that people often have responsibilities outside the workplace, and they may take steps to keep them hidden from colleagues. He calls this their ‘invisible baggage’ and he knows that these people are under unrelenting pressure. He is someone who definitely leads by example.  Ian takes active steps to look after his mental and physical health so that he can balance his demanding role at the company he loves with the caring role in his personal life. He talked to me about the challenges people face when they first encounter something they cannot simply ‘fix’.  Ian has found his own methods that really work in practice so that this isn’t a barrier in his professional life.

Despite his busy schedule, he’s generous with his time too, and he’ll be one of the guest speakers at the “Mark’s Mental Health Marathon” seminars.  Bishop Fleming staff are actively involved in charities – this year they are aiming to raise £100K to mark their centenary year and recently 120 of their staff took part in the Bath half marathon. Others are undertaking the 3 Peaks Challenge or taking part in a 4-day walking challenge to walk 100 miles.

So what are the secrets to his success?

  1. Self-discipline and sticking to a routine

Ian is firm believer that in order to look after your team, you first need to look after yourself. For the last 13 years Ian has had a weekly session with his fitness trainer. Recently he has seen a Shiatsu practitioner twice as month as well. Shiatsu is a holistic approach to fitness and isn’t just physical fitness but includes monitoring and managing diet, sleep patterns, massage and manipulation. The aim is to release endorphins which promote an overall feeling of well-being. Ian is a very focussed, driven person himself and he’s learned that the value of sitting under a tree doing nothing or walking the dog can be as beneficial as going on a weekend away to play golf (which often gets competitive).

 

  1. Understand both your own and your team members resilience to stress.

Ian explained the ‘Stress Bucket’ concept to me. Everybody has a different ability to deal with stress, so whilst some people seem to thrive on it and perform very well under constant pressure (they have a skip sized ‘bucket’), others find that they need to keep stress at a much lower level to function well ( imagine these people with a thimble). At any time, life is adding stress into the top of the bucket, so the level is always increasing, whilst we can empty it through our own personal tap at the base. Everyone has a different relieving ‘tap’ which could be getting better sleep, quiet reading, socialising with friends, stroking a pet etc.

By getting to know your team better, and what causes and relieves stress levels, you can direct them at work to make the most of their talents and interests and avoid situations or job roles that are unsuitable for them. At Bishop Fleming, managers and staff are encouraged to have these conversations so that the root causes of stress are identified and can be dealt with, for example by finding the right person to talk to. Without this support network at work, people will often take a medical approach, when sleeping tablets or anti-depressants may be offered, which doesn’t address the issues causing stress in the first place. Both approaches have their place, but a good support network can mean medicines may not be needed.

 

  1. Adopt the Radical Candour methodology

This is a concept developed by Kim Scott, who has worked with Google, Apple, Twitter and is a New Your Times bestselling author. Her new approach, which has been adopted at Bishop Fleming, helps managers have honest feedback discussions with their team, and, as a result, achieve a happier and more productive workplace.

 

Mark Smith is very grateful for the support offered by Ian Smith, both as a corporate sponsor and speaker at the seminars. You can find out more details about the seminars here .

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsored by Bishop Fleming

Meet Gary Jones, MD of Glevum

Gary Jones has a simple business philosophy: whenever he bumps into a customer before or during his beloved Gloucester Rugby – he wants to be assured that they are happy. After 35 very successful years at the helm, customers remain the most important people to him and repeat business or personal recommendation account for 75% of their retail sales. Today Glevum also supplies the top UK housebuilders including Taylor Wimpey, Barratts/David Wilson and Persimmon with hundreds of windows every week, on building sites from Cornwall to Kent, yet high quality products and exceptional service standards are not compromised. From day one of their employment, his teams understand that they should treat customers’ property with the care they would take if it were their own.

Gary has a personal experience of dealing with mental health as Mike Nicholls, his uncle and childhood sporting hero suffered from dementia later in his life. Mike was the first team captain to hold aloft the John Player Charity Shield and Gary has fond memories of being taken by Mike to see Gloucester play as a child. He still has this passion for Gloucester rugby club today. When Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank requested financial support for Mental Health UK, Gary was the first one to reach into his pocket.

Recommended to Gary when their previous banking advisor changed role, Mark has been working alongside Glevum for many years, always supporting their expansion plans by fighting their corner and enabling finance to be made available as the business has grown. Supporting Mark with this project will mean that Mental Health issues are treated as more of a priority here in the Midlands.

Gary started Glevum from his dads’ garage after serving an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering as a field service engineer, which is where he developed his eye for measurement. His first workshop was funded by selling his Ford Cortina and cashflow was a challenge. “Approaching the bank manager and being asked for a cashflow forecast seemed to me like so much mumbo jumbo back then” recalls Gary “but fear of failure was always a great motivator”. As the business grew, Gary came to rely on recruiting and keeping great people in his team, and the business has always been industry leaders in the use of new technology and innovative processes. Gary has a ‘touch of the geek’ about him, and has always enjoyed new IT.  High points in his career was winning the Gloucestershire Business of the Year in 2018 and the UK’s top conservatory builder in 2000, although he also fondly remembers the teasing he received from his mates when, at 39, he won Gloucestershire ‘Young Businessperson of the Year’.

Mark's Mental Health Marathon | Gary Jones of Glevum with HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Glevum Conservatory Village

He’s definitely not a typical MD of a multi-million turnover business! Every customer is invited to complete a 30-question survey about their experience of Glevum and on the odd occasion that any question scores less than half marks, Gary will personally pick up the phone to them so that there is ‘no muddying the water’ with middle managers involved. At the same time the business is developing innovative new apps that are used by building site managers to order their products in the most efficient and traceable manner. Orders are made at the right time in their house build process, scheduled in for manufacture, tracked through production, delivery vehicle location and, finally, invoicing. The new system saves his customers time, hassle and money.

For Gary, business is not all about money making, it’s also about giving back. Glevum are currently supporting a new community interest company (CIC) which will provide charities with affordable and state of the art office facilities in Morroway House in central Gloucester. This new hub has meeting rooms, hot desk spaces and a series of fortnightly seminars specifically for the third sector is already being planned.

Whatever the future holds, here is a leader who loves to embrace new challenges!

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Glevum

Fundraising event dates for your diary

Mental Health Seminars – practical help for you and your business

These are free events, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity.

Learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations & appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Listen to engaging & practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.

Agenda

Light refreshments.
Opening remarks and introduction.
Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
Close and light refreshments.

3. Date:Wednesday, 25th September

Time: 8am – 11am

Venue: Malvern College, College Rd, Malvern WR14 3DF

To book your place on the Malvern seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com  and put Malvern 25th September in the email.

 

4. Date: Wednesday, 2nd October

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Venue: Ross Labels, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US

To book your place on the Ross on Wye  seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com  and put Ross 2nd October in the email.

 

5. Monmouthshire – November

Date: TBC

Time: TBC

Venue: Monmouth, details TBC

 

The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evenings in aid of Mental Health UK

Pit-your-wits against some of the finest minds in the county…and a few from over the border, too! Our (extra!)ordinary quiz masters, Richard and Ian, will keep us on our toes with a variety of entertaining subject rounds so dust off the grey matter, brush up on your musical memories and keep your eyes on topical new items in the days leading up to the quiz!

Herefordshire

Date: Tuesday, 12th September

Time: 6.30 – 10.45 pm

Venue: Zimmerman main Hall, Church Street, Hereford, HR1 2NG

To enter, simply send your £60 donation via the Just Giving link below and email your team name to Mark.Smith5@Lloydsbanking.com and put The Lloyds Bank 2019 Hereford Big Quiz Evening in your email.

 

Worcestershire

Date: Thursday, 21st November

Time: evening event, TBC

Venue: Pershore, TBC

To enter, simply send your £60 donation via the Just Giving link below and email your team name to Mark.Smith5@Lloydsbanking.com and put The Lloyds Bank 2019 Worcestershire Big Quiz Evening in your email.

 

Artist Jeremy Haughton exhibitions in aid of Mark’s Mental Health Marathon

London

Date: Wednesday,  11th September

Time: 6pm – 8.30pm

Venue: Osborne Studio Gallery, 2 Motcomb St, Belgravia, London SW1X 8JU

Theme:: Recent paintings, alongside pictures from his fascinating list of residencies.

 

Webbs of Wychbold Garden centre

Date: Thursday, 17th October

Time TBC

Venue: Webbs,Worcester Road, Wychbold, Droitwich, Worcestershire, WR9 0DG

Theme:: Recent paintings, alongside pictures from his fascinating list of residencies.

Find out more about Jeremy Houghton here.

Training

Trekking through Cambodia is going to be a tough challenge for Mark. His lung condition means he has a smaller lung capacity than normal and the air during the trek will be high humidity, so Mark is already working on  a cardio programme in the gym.  Mark is also diabetic, so has to be careful about his intake of sugar and will not be able to fall back on high energy boosting snacks during the trek.

Here are the Global Challenge adventure top tips for a trekking challenge:

The two objectives to prepare for a trekking challenge are
1. Increase the capacity and efficiency of your body’s cardiovascular system.
2. Improve the endurance of your muscles. Building up their repetitive movement strength, thus allowing you to walk further before feeling physically tired.

It’s simple – about half of the endurance required for walking 6+ hours comes from the improved ability of your body to pump blood and oxygen to your muscles.
The other half comes from increased efficiency (strength) of the muscles to extract oxygen and convert it.

Don’t forget the top half of your body because you’ll have to carry backpacks and walking poles.

Do’s and Don’t’s

  • The best cardio exercise to prepare for your challenge is walking, because it uses all the same movements and muscles that you’ll be using on your trek. You’ll toughen your feet, strengthen all the right muscles and get used to the kit you will be using.
  • Don’t do too much too soon, get too fatigued or even worse injured, and not be able to exercise for the next month!
  • Always warm up (prior to) and warm down (after) exercise and include stretching. It works.
  • As you get fitter keep the time that you spend training the same but increase the intensity (work harder) – you can fit it in to your busy lifestyle.
  • Keep a note of the distances you cover using a pedometer – you will be able to monitor your improvement.
  • Listen to your body and if you are tired do a little less, if you feel strong do a little more – the suggested plans aren’t prescriptive.
  • Do as many of your training sessions wearing the boots that you will be wearing on the challenge and also carry your day sack containing the things you will be carrying.
  • Do get advice from the attendant/instructor at your gym on use of equipment and exercises.

 

Fitting your training into your life
The programmes included in this document are rough training guides. Obviously with family, work and fundraising commitments you may not feel able to achieve what we have suggested for you. However, in order to get close to achieving your training it is vital you organise your time properly. There are many ways to ensure your time is maximised even if you feel that you have no time outside of work.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organise your week to make sure you get out and do something!

  • Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day’s training; just get on with the next day but try not to miss 2 days in a row.
  • If you can’t get outside, add another indoor session, but do try and walk as much as possible in ‘real’ conditions. The more you train in similar conditions to your challenge (terrain and weather) the better.
  • Try and get up an hour earlier and take a quick walk before work.
  • If you can walk to work, do so. If you can’t walk the whole distance, why not walk part of the distance and leave your car in a nearby car park.
  • Do the school run on foot and get the kids fit too.
  • Get your family/friends in on the action and training with you at the weekend or in the evenings.
  • Use your lunch hour to take a brisk walk around the immediate area.
  • Go to your local gym or ‘spin’ class and substitute this for one of your midweek sessions.
  • It is important at weekends to get in some ‘hilly’ miles to experience trekking on different surfaces and gradients. The trekking challenges involve hills and mountains!
  • It is important to try and make the time to trek on some consecutive long days.Nothing will prepare you better than actually going out for some long walks!

About the Cambodia challenge

Mark's menatl health Marathon | Angkor Wat

 

Mark will be joining a select few Lloyds bank employees , a Global Challenge leader, a local guide fan a doctor for the week long trek from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat.

It’s going to be hot and humid all the way, so Mark will be busy in the gym between now and October and attending ‘boot camp’ training weekends in June to get himself fit to take part.The overall trek will be over 5 days, covering a total of 79km with an estimated walking time of between 28 and 33 hours.

This is definitely a ‘no-frills’ challenge, as the team will be camping each night under canvass and the showers will be the bucket of water variety. Shoes will need to be waterproof and he’ll need a plentiful supply of dry socks!

 

 

About Mental Health UK

Lloyds Bank are supporting Mental Health UK as their chosen charity.Mental Health UK has been supporting people affected by mental health problems for over 40 years. The charity brings together experts from four national mental health charities to improve understanding and provide vital care.

Support groups

Each support group is run by volunteers with experience of living with mental health problems. Groups are uniquely developed to care for the needs of local members. They reduce the isolation that can come with mental illness and provide a safe space to talk openly without discrimination.

Advice

Our Mental Health and Money Advice service provides UK-wide support to those living with mental health and money problems. The first service of its kind, it’s helped thousands of people understand, manage and improve their financial situation as well as their mental health.

Information

We provide simple information about mental health and mental illness as well as how to seek support. Our ‘On The Inside’ information guides have an estimated reach of 5.4 million people. By turning this into a digital platform too, we have been able to reach more people and tackle the myths about mental health problems

Video resources for you and your team

Mental Health UK have a series of short videos with useful tips to allow people to live their best working life

It’s easy to let work get on top of us, and the stress can eventually lead to further mental health problems. We’ve got lots of tips and ideas to help you manage your mental health and wellbeing so you can be your best at work.

You’ll find these by clicking this link

Welcome to Mark’s Mental Health Marathon and thanks for reading.

Marks Mental Health Marathon sponsors

As many of you will already know, 2018 was a difficult year…a year in which I was told I might have three-years to live, followed by extensive diagnostic health checks, regular specialist consultant’s visits, cancelled operations, learning how to cope with insulin dependence and eventually a lung biopsy to confirmation a long-term inflammatory lung disease requiring ongoing steroids and, this year, powerful immuno-suppressants that are also used in chemotherapy treatments.  My mother’s untimely death hardly helped the year along!

This year I’ve been offered an opportunity of a lifetime – so, I’m undertaking a sponsored 80km trek to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to raise money for Mental Health UK, Lloyds Bank’s chosen charity. So, why would an insulin-dependent diabetic with only two thirds lung capacity want to take on such a physical challenge in oppressive heat of 35°c and saturating humidity of over 80%?

It’s all about saying ‘thank you’ to the community that supported me and kept me going through the ups and downs of 2018.  Of course, the support from friends and family is invaluable at times like these but I had more, much more. I experienced surprising and very welcome support from my networks of clients, colleagues, professional partners. People who would regularly pick up the phone or drop me an email and simply ask…‘I was just thinking of you, how are you doing?’…and still do!

So the challenge I’ve set myself is to pay-back to everyone who provided that invaluable support network. It’s my way of saying thank you to a fantastic business community.

I want to make a difference in 3 ways:-

  • I’d like the business community to be increasingly capable of supporting people experiencing mental health issues; by being more effective and efficient at spotting issues and hopefully preventing them from developing into something more serious.
  • I’d like everyone in my business community to be able to say ” Yes, I’ve got something out of this for myself, for my team and for my business”.
  • Raising £25,000 for a truly worthwhile and practical charity – Mental Health UK so that they can support many others going through difficult times with mental health issues.

So I invite you all to get involved with me. This might be by attending one of my fundraising events, being one of my corporate sponsors or by coming along to one of our mental health awareness seminars and hearing from expert speakers on mental health issues.

Look out for regular updates on these events as the year progresses, culminating in my trek to Cambodia as part of a team of 70 Lloyds bank staff during the rainy reason in October!

So, can I encourage you, please, to give generously to a cause that at some stage in our lives we all may need to rely on to support our family, friends, or even ourselves.

Whatever amount you might choose to donate, you have my heartfelt appreciation.  Donations can be made most easily through my Just Giving page or, if preferred, by cheque made payable to ‘LBG Charity of the Year’.

Please be kind enough to ‘like’ and ‘share’ my blog posts with your social media connections so we can spread the word. With your support, together, we can make a difference to our community.

With my personal thanks,

Mark

Mark's Mental health Marathon | hello and thanks for reading