Please scroll down for the latest news stories, training initiatives and exciting adventures at Laughton & Co:
Giraffe Conservation Project2018-08-08 12:00:08
Zingela Safari Lodge in the Tugela River valley of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa is the setting for the Laughton & Co Inspiration Programme (www.theinspirationprogramme.com) and it was during a visit in 2017 that I became aware of the need for a wild giraffe conservation programme in the region. Populations of wild giraffe have been declining over the years and the lodge owners were keen to commence a zoological study. After Wild Trails CEO Angus Wingfield came to lecture members of the Scientific Exploration Society (of which I am Chairman) I set out to support the project. In early August John Richards and I flew out to join ten Zoology students from Exeter University to set up a photo-survey programme that will study these majestic animals in the wild.
Penny Farthing world record attempt2018-06-20 19:56:17
As Founder and Secretary of the Penny Farthing Club, I was intrigued by the impressive records set on Penny Farthing bicycles in the late 19th Century. For example, the record for Lands End to John O’Groats is an incredible 5 days, 1 hour & 45 minutes. This was in the late 1890’s before cars were on the roads and presumably no tarmac! I looked for a record that might be achievable in 2018. The one hour open track world record was set in October 1886 by American WA Rowe at Hampden Park, Massachusetts at 22 miles and 150 yards. I invited round the world record holder Mark Beaumont to spearhead the attempt and recruited a squad of seven support riders or “Domestique’s”. The World Cycling Revival at Herne Hill was the venue and occasion with a 1000 people watching. It was quite a hot afternoon and also a little windy on the back straight. Sadly, the world record was missed by 28 seconds but Mark achieved a new British one hour record of 21 miles and 918 yards beating the previous one set at this venue 127 years earlier!
World’s Highest Dinner Party2018-05-02 19:55:15
Following the successful trial dinner party at Base Camp the week before, a team including two female business executives, a doctor, architect, surveyor and lawyer accompanied me to 23,000 ft (7,050m) on the North Col of Mt Everest. It was a struggle getting ourselves and dining equipment up the steep slopes leading to the Col but eventually all members reached camp late in the afternoon, completely exhausted. The following morning I dressed in my black tie dinner suit and laid the table before our Sherpa team prepared to serve the three course dinner. With food designed, made and dehydrated by two Michelin Star chef Sat Bains and high quality champagne and port from GH Mumm and Taylor’s, we settled into a chilly (minus 25 degrees centigrade) but jolly dinner party. A new world record. And the project that had started in 2015 with an abortive attempt due to the earthquake also raised over £100,000 for local charity Community Action Nepal.
Mt Everest Base Camp2018-04-12 19:53:29
In early April, on a special Laughton & Co "Adventure Retreat” to the Himalayas, fourteen slightly nervous looking clients and friends boarded a British Airways flight to Kathmandu in Nepal. We were going to Mt Everest to attempt the highest black tie dinner party world record. But before I led a smaller party from this group to climb up to the North Col at 7,000 m (23,000 ft) we needed to reach Base Camp for a trial dinner party and to conduct the highest business retreat in the world led by my Associate John Richards. We flew from Kathmandu to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet which sits at over 3,600m and so movement is slow around town as we acclimatised. From there it is a steady four day 4 x 4 drive across the Tibetan Plateau to reach the Rongbuk Valley and the North side of Mt Everest. A magnificent dinner party was held at Base Camp with the summit of Everest as a backdrop and members enjoyed the unique business retreat at over 18,000 ft.
Mt Toubkal, Morocco2018-03-19 19:51:18
Mt Toubkal is in South Western Morocco, located in the Toubkal National Park and stands at 4,167 metres (13,671 ft). It is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, North Africa and in the Arab world and is located 63 km south of the city of Marrakesh. With the expedition to Mt Everest for the Highest Dinner Party world record attempt imminent, this was designed as a preparatory climb for the Everest team. We flew to Marrakesh, met our in-country support team and spent a night in the souk. The following day involved a minibus trip to an outlying town within 20 km of the peak and commenced a trek into the valley. Our next night was spent in a basic bunkhouse but with fabulous views of mountains in the National Park. A five hour trek to Base Camp in the form of a mountain hut followed the next day and in the afternoon, we ran a training session for the less experienced members on the use of ice axe and crampons. An alpine start in the dark led to a very windy, cold but clear blue sky summit at lunchtime.
The London Winter Run2018-02-27 15:46:30
On a freezing Saturday morning in February, yours truly was up with the sparrows and travelling to London for the London Winter Run - a 10 km charity sprint through the West End and City of London. Except that I wasn’t going to be running at all. My mission was to ride my Penny Farthing bicycle ahead of the Elite runners whilst entertaining the crowds and promoting the World Cycling Revival (to be held later in the year). As the London Winter Run event logo is a polar bear, obviously I was to be dressed as Ursus maritimus and carry a flag. I had no idea if I could ride with all this clobber on and at the pace of the fastest runners whom I was told would be sprinting at over 12 mph. Apart from nearly running down a lady with a baby in a pram who inexplicably had been allowed to cross the road just in front of me, the day went very well and was better than one in front of a computer!
Family skiing holiday2018-02-23 22:48:36
Probably one of the better “selfies” I have ever taken…of my family skiing in the Verbier area in the New Year. Thankfully, the weather great - bright blue skies and reasonably warm and so the Laughton clan got stuck into some quality skiing and Après Ski. What made Dad proud was the fact that the girls aged 8 and 6 had never skied on real snow before (one trip to an artificial ski slope in Milton Keynes) and they went to a French ski school for three mornings before joining us after lunch on the Red runs. By the end of the week, daughter No 1 was beating her father (who has skied / snow-boarded for over thirty years and is a registered nutcase on the piste) down the slopes.
The Silly Season!2017-12-20 11:45:04
December for Laughton & Co is generally the silly season. By that I mean, not much work gets done particularly in the latter half of the month and well, everyone likes to have a party or two! For those people who have visited Laughton & Co HQ in the South Downs National Park, scene of some quality learning & development, leadership training and team building events etc, will know that when not working, guests can be enticed down to the “Man Cave” where there is a shrine to the champagne house GH Mumm as well as many bottles of a far higher percentage of alcohol. Suffice to say, we also like to play “games" at South Col House but occasionally our pets have been known to get involved. When you have Alpaca, tortoises, cats, Emus and scorpions milling about, anything can happen…
THE INSPIRATION PROGRAM2017-12-11 09:44:39
What is it that identifies exceptional Individuals, Leaders & Companies? It is their capacity for inspiration. They are inspired people, who inspire others. Effort is crucial, but without inspiration hard work is rendered ultimately fruitless. Success belongs to those who build their ongoing efforts upon inspired ideas. Many seek life-changing inspiration, but few know how or where to find it. Even fewer know how to harness it, and how to translate it into reality. We have been privileged over many years to work with numerous businesses and individuals around the globe, providing them with the tools to become inspired and transformed. In collaboration with John Richards, in 2018 we are hosting our first Inspiration Programme.
Circumnavigation of Easter Island2017-11-12 09:41:05
A few adventurous clients of Laughton & Co asked me to come up with a water-bourne challenge that would not keep them away from their day jobs for more than 10 days. Standup paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Easter Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is the most remote inhabited island in the world. Bingo! And it only took me two glasses of wine to put the two together and come up with a plan to be the first people to circumnavigate the island by inflatable paddle board. The team comprised Meriel Davis, Mark Newman and me as paddlers and Rob Pelling as Support Team member and photographer. A few months before the expedition, we set about circumnavigating the Isle of Wight as a warm up and check equipment which we completed in three days in early November. On arrival in Easter Island, we conducted a full survey of the 65 mile coastline and its treacherous volcanic rocky shoreline. Not many safe places to escape the 20 ft Pacific swells, sharks, fearsome tides and crashing waves so we went for it and completed the mission in two 9 hour days on the water.
SES Socials2017-10-20 15:29:54
New Chairman of the Scientific Exploration Society (Neil Laughton) has arranged a corporate partnership with restaurant chain Gaucho to host regular monthly SES Socials for members and guests. Gaucho City near London Bridge will host the SES on the last Tuesday of the month starting January 30th 2018. The evenings will commence at 1830 hrs with drinks in the Argentinian themed bar, before a guest explorer takes the stage to give a 30 minute talk and then everyone returns to the bar or takes their place for dinner.
Round the World in 80 days2017-09-23 19:36:01
Endurance athlete and world record cyclist Mark Beaumont had already held the round the world record on a bicycle at 194 days ten years ago. But he decided to attempt a fully supported (vehicles and team support)18,000 miles under strict Guinness World Record rules in 80 days or less. Mark started in Paris in July 2017, cycled across Europe, through Russia and Mongolia, then flew to Australia cycling West to East and then peddled the length of New Zealand in winter. He flew to North America and cycled across Alaska and Canada before the finishing leg from Portugal back to Paris. He averaged 16 hours and 240 miles per day, every day for 78 days. David Fox-Pitt and I met him (riding our Penny Farthings in Victorian outfits of course) and escorted him the final few miles to the finish line at the Arc de Triomphe.
Neil wows academy group 0072017-09-05 12:57:02
Neil has recently gained the rare privilege of becoming an accredited speaker / presenter at the Academy for Chief Executives, the country’s leading organisation for growing and developing senior leadership talent and transforming businesses. Simon Lester, Academy Chairman of Group 007 and a leading light in the organisation asked Neil to conduct his Strategy MOT Workshop twice in two days during July. Afterwards, he kindly wrote the testimonial below: “Neil presented to both my CEO Group and my Director’s Forum and scored highly in both workshops. The members found the ‘Strategy on a Page’ concept really useful and easy to implement. Neil has a unique background and uses both his military and commercial experiences to demonstrate the impact of good and bad strategies with great effect. Neil has achieved some incredible personal challenges and highlighted some of these to demonstrate the importance of how a great strategy combined with effective implementation can positively influence the result. Neil Laughton is a newcomer to the Academy and has the potential to become the Academy Newcomer of the Year, he is that good! Book him now.”
Ireland 3602017-08-25 10:53:50
In the summer of 2000, Neil Laughton and Tim Maw became the first people to complete a circumnavigation of mainland Britain by jet-ski. During their trip and accompanied by Bear Grylls they shot across the Irish Sea for a pint of Guinness and always had in mind to one day return to make a circumnavigation of Ireland. 17 years later, Neil organised this mission with sponsorship from BRP, manufacturers of the leading personal watercraft brand Sea-doo and engaged with two charities - Help for Heroes and RNLI. Neil and Tim were joined on the water by Mark Shoosmith and Rory Mackenzie, who had lost a leg whilst serving in Iraq. A land based support team was manned by volunteers and members of the H4H community. The expedition was successful with all four riders completing the 1500 mile journey which took 14 days to complete. They started and finished in Belfast Harbour at the site where the ship Titanic was built and launched in 1912.
Adventure retreats in South Africa2017-07-06 11:52:16
Adventure Retreats is an initiative in collaboration with Angus Wingfield and John Richards. The idea is to take groups of senior business executives to Zingela, one of the most beautiful and remote safari lodges in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area of South Africa. This place is stunningly peaceful, well equipped with luxury tented accommodation and located in a wild unfenced wilderness - the perfect place to unwind, reflect and be a little adventurous. Clients participate in morning group workshops designed to ask difficult questions such as: “Are you fulfilling your true potential?”, “What impact are you really having?” and “What legacy will you be leaving?”. We hope that delegates spending a week in this wonderful environment will return to work energised, orientated and motivated. Neil, John and Angus conducted a recce of the area in June and hope to commence Adventure Retreats in 2018. For more information please visit: www.adventure-retreats.com
Scientific Exploration Society2017-06-05 12:50:38
The SES is a charity set up in 1969 by the explorer John Blashford-Snell OBE, whom Neil worked for on leaving school. John was to become his mentor and inspiration for exploring and adventuring around the world. The SES leads, funds and supports scientific discovery, research and conservation in remote parts of the world offering knowledge, eduction and community aid. Whilst few areas of the world remain undiscovered, there is still much to learn and to be done in promoting sustainable economies, saving endangered species and offering community welfare in less developed countries. After knowing each other for over 35 years, John asked Neil to become Chairman of the Board of Trustees and took charge in May. Neil is keen to increase the size of the membership, develop sustainable financial income streams and deliver added value for members. Anyone interested in joining the SES, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Climb Higher! at Brighton Met2017-05-12 12:49:03
The typical Laughton & Co client is a corporate entity with a large number of dynamic, successful and keen-to-progress business directors or managers. When an opportunity to run a developmental programme over a three week period for a group of unemployed adults at Brighton Metropolitan College, there was just a little trepidation in the run up to the course starting last month. Neil need not have been so concerned because by and large the group were open, worked hard and were keen to learn. The age range varied from 21 to 65 and there were a mix of gender, nationalities and experiences. However, Neil designed a developmental programme that would engage all ages and abilities with a mix of learning sessions, coaching interventions, guest speakers, site visits to various businesses and a one day experiential session at Laughton & Co HQ in the South Downs National Park. The delegates collectively rated the course 9.7 out of 10 with many offering heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those people who gave up their time to help deliver an inspirational experience.
Golf Retreats in Cornwall2017-04-12 12:47:11
Laughton & Co has teamed up with John Richards, a vocational life coach and keen golfer to provide opportunities for stressed out business executives to take a well-earned long weekend break. The new initiative is called golf-retreats and will be hosted by John and Neil in the beautiful Cornish coast near Porthpean. Clients are accommodated in attractive modern cottages on the edge of the Porthpean Golf Course with stunning views of the coast, play unlimited amounts of golf and participate in voluntary group coaching sessions. The evenings are spent relaxing, walking, paddle-boarding and dining in delightful local restaurants in the neighbouring secluded harbours. The first golf retreat is scheduled for late September. For more information and details please visit www.golf-retreats.com
GSBR wins Chestnut Tree House Award2017-03-05 10:44:29
Back in 2012 a visit to Chestnut Tree House, the children’s hospice near Arundel left Neil with a pronounced sense of thankfulness for a half a century of good health, an appreciation of the amazing work being done at the house and a determination to help with fundraising. Being a specialist in team activities and challenges, the idea of an annual charity bath raft racing tournament was born. Neil sourced 20 baths from CP Hart and he knew the founder of another Sussex charity called Lifecentre who lived near Chichester and owned a beautiful private lake. Neil teamed up with the uber-organised Gemma King of Vivid Marketing and the pair set up the Great Sussex Bath Race. Each year since, up to 18 corporate teams have competed for the three marble with bath tap adorned trophies. Over £60,000 has been raised to help children and their families in Sussex and at the recent CTH Business Awards, we won “Most innovative fundraising idea”.
AirBnB Experiences2017-02-16 09:02:34
Airbnb recently launched a new service called Airbnb Experiences. Neil was approached by the company to see if he would be interested in piloting the scheme with some sort of Penny Farthing experience for their customers. Priding ourselves on our innovativeness as a company, we jumped at the chance and devised a three hour experience called “Bike like a Victorian through central London”. Clients book and pay online through the Airbnb Experiences App and then join Neil in St James’s Square for part one: Training. Clients are taught how to ride, mount, dismount and navigate the busy streets of the capital safely. After a well earned coffee break, its time for part two: The Tour. Neil leads the group of up to six clients riding 48 inch high Penny Farthing bikes on a special tour that includes Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The experience regularly receives a 5 star rating (the maximum) because of its uniqueness, the sense of a difficult challenge overcome and because the clients are photographed thousands of times by tourists which makes them feel like a celebrity!
Columbia's highest mountain?2017-01-28 16:39:09
James and Oliver were obsessed with a conundrum in the climbing world - which of two mountains listed in the mountaineering guide books as identical in height was actually the highest? I got roped in to undertake what we would call in the military a “close target recce”. The main problem was gaining access to the peaks, Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar in the NW of Colombia as they resided in a National Park with primary jungle and a secretive native peoples called the Kogi who disliked visitors and tourists were banned. We tried various diplomatic routes without success and then decided to just go there and work it out. With a local guide and blessing of the chief Kogi (after an exchange of money and gifts) we made our way with two mules up through the jungle foothills, often staying with local Kogi families. The terrain got steep and one of the mules fell off the trail which meant we had to reduce equipment and carry everything ourselves. It was hot and humid, I developed mild heat-stroke and the pounds dropped off our bodies as we made our way onto the glacier and cooler temperatures. Given the sensitivities, I shall just say we reached a height on one peak that give us a reasonable view of the other and I can confirm they are both very similar in height!
Laughton & Co wins Business Awards2016-12-17 12:36:13
The business coaching, training and consulting world is a busy marketplace and anyone operating in it needs to be able to stand out from the crowd! There is no better an opportunity of testing yourself and your business against the competition than by subjecting yourself to the critical eyes of a business awards judging panel. In 2016 we placed ourselves in three business awards competitions and the results were pleasing…we were a Finalist in the JP South East Business Awards and then Neil won “Business Personality of the Year” in the Brighton & Hove Independent Business Awards followed by "Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Sussex Business Awards in 2016.
Sussex Business Awards Nomination for 20162016-10-19 12:13:22
The Laughton & Co team are extremely pleased and happy to learn that Neil has reached the Final of the Sussex Business Awards “Entrepreneur of the Year” 2016. The winner will be announced at a black tie gala dinner on 1st December. Whatever the result, this has been a rewarding few months which comes off the back of winning the Brighton & Hove Independent Business Awards “Business Personality” 2016, reaching the finals of the JP South Business Awards and being nominated (anonymously) in the Institute of Directors annual business awards for Director of the Year (Small Company).
Focus Group wins the Crazy Sportathon2016-10-19 12:11:23
This week, a dozen corporate teams entered Laughton & Co’s latest sporting charity challenge - the Crazy Sportathon which raised in excess of £6,000 for children’s charity Rockinghorse. A team of 6 telecommunications experts from Focus Group won the rather unusual wrought iron trophy designed by local blacksmith Tom Fell. Teams were faced with completing and competing in 20 crazy sporting events during the day which included a Bucking Broncho, pole walking, extreme ping pong, melon shot putting, Bhutanese Darts, segway slalom and a Sumo suit relay race. Such was the positive response from the happy but tired teams, this may be repeated next year!
FTSE 250 Graduates Training Programme2016-10-19 12:08:33
A group of young, enthusiastic and slightly nervous Graduates from a high street FTSE 250 company arrived at Laughton & Co HQ recently. They were fed and immediately went to work forming teams of three and tasked with erecting a series of Bell Tents in preparation for a good nights camping. The following morning they received navigational instruction (map & compass) and strategic guidance to then plan a 60 mile cross country mountain bike expedition with an additional night out in the wilds of the South Downs National Park. They certainly enjoyed the physical challenge, the leadership responsibilities and opportunity to get to know each other better.
Neil Laughton wins Sussex Business Award2016-06-20 09:26:30
On Friday 17th June at the Brighton & Hove Independent Business Awards dinner in the AMEX football stadium, Neil Laughton won the "Business Personality" award for 2016. In his acceptance speech, he thanked Gemma King of Vivid Marketing who nominated him and went on to say that Laughton & Co was not a law firm but a company dedicated to helping individuals and businesses improve their strategy, leadership and teamwork.
Beach Volleyball Tournament2016-05-12 21:51:52
Laughton & Co entered a team comprising some of its Associates, clients and suppliers in the Active Sussex Beach Volleyball Tournament at Yellow Wave, Brighton. Eight organisations entered the competition including teams from Brighton University, Quality Solicitors and American Express. Laughton & Co won two out of its three group stage games and there was a sudden death solo play-off for first position and Neil Laughton took on a young lady who apparently played for American Colleges and she won rather easily! Team Laughton & Co then played the winners of the other group in a semi-final and played their socks off (not literally). In the final against an experienced team from Financial Planning Group, they lost valiantly 33-28.
Bering Strait Expedition 20162016-02-01 03:41:56
Neil Laughton and James Bingham set out at the end of February to attempt a return crossing of the Bering Strait between NW Alaska and the International Date Line between the Diomede Islands, mid way to the Russian mainland. They had hoped to arrange the first game of 5-a-side football on the moving sea ice on arrival. However, the warmest winter on record made the sea ice too thin to walk on and too thick to paddle through and the pair had to be rescued by the US Coast Guard.
Business Meets Special Operations2016-01-15 17:13:34
Laughton & Co launches another innovative, challenging and insightful 3 day executive training programme in the highlands of Scotland. Designed to educate teams of business executives in the finer art of Special Ops. Delegates will be given instruction from Special Forces personnel, hostage negotiator, fighter pilot and a military intelligence agent how to plan, communicate, train and execute a strategic mission successfully.
Strategy meetings on the water2015-11-01 17:18:45
A 21 metre Dutch Barge owned by Laughton & Co that is moored on a floating pontoon at the North end of Portsmouth Harbour provides the ideal venue for a private, comfortable and unusual board room for groups of business executives conducting a special meeting or strategy session. Guests are met at Gunwharf Quays and embark a speedboat which then transfers them to Gentoo, the Dutch Motor Cruiser.
Team Development Training2015-10-18 17:20:32
Laughton & Co offers local Sussex businesses a unique opportunity to conduct a one day training programme at its HQ in the South Downs Way. Delegates are given a mix of theoretical, conversational and practical sessions designed to improve the leadership, communication and team working skills of every group.
Laughton & Co team raises £100,000 for charity2015-10-10 17:16:25
After their valiant attempt to set a new World Record for the highest formal dinner party at 23,000 ft on Mt Everest in April / May 2015, a team led by former Everest summiteer Neil Laughton have managed to raise in excess of £100,000 for charity Community Action Nepal. The team which included 2 Michelin Star Chef Sat Bains, reached 22,000 ft when they experienced a devastating earthquake that inflicted many thousands of casualties. The expedition was sponsored by the SJP Foundation, GH Mumm, Canada Goose and Thomas Pink.
Laughton & Co Olympics2015-09-01 17:22:23
A perfect way to entertain clients, reward staff or to motivate the team for the year ahead, Laughton & Co launches its very own Olympic Games! With activities including rally driving, archery, American Pool, Air Hockey, Extreme Golf, Table-tennis and Wellington Boot throwing, this an unusual, exciting and adrenalin busting day of fun designed to identify the finest competitor in the group.