Champions’ Chat – ‘Believe in Yourself!’  with Neil Laughton

18th July 2017

Six of our Champions had a fun packed few hours this week, when they attended our latest Champions’ Chat.

The chat, which was all about self belief, was held at the amazing home of Neil Laughton. Neil is a former Royal Marine Commando and Special Forces Officer turned entrepreneur. He founded a group of companies in the design, construction and office furniture industries which grew to £40m turnover and was then sold to a FTSE 100 company in 2011. His awards include the Ness Award for “inspirational leadership” from the Royal Geographical Society and clients include B&Q, Virgin Atlantic and BP.

Neil and his family welcomed the Champions, and the next half an hour was dedicated to fun – with the Champions playing air hockey, table tennis and meeting many different animals. The Champions were then given a spin in Neil’s Sky Car – the first road legal bio-fuelled flying car. This was a highlight for the Champions and the alpacas watched on as our Champions span around the grounds. It was certainly exhilarating.

The group then sat down and were set the task of thinking about what was most important to them, what they were good at and one thing they wanted to achieve one day. The Champions all contributed with their thoughts and aspirations. Amongst the things most important to them were family, music and education and their goals included using IT to help others, visiting Japan and making music.

Neil told the group a bit about his personal journey – he had been told by a headmaster at school that he wouldn’t pass a single exam, but through hard work, determination and self belief he proved the headmaster wrong. He did pass his exams, and has gone on to have the most fantastic experiences.

Neil also has a passion for adventure and he has led numerous expeditions across 7 Continents – by land, sea and air. He summited Mount Everest with Bear Grylls, circumnavigated the UK on a jet ski and piloted a flying car across the Sahara Desert.

Later in the day, Neil went on to show the group his memory shelf, which displayed items he’d collected - including a piece of rock from the top of Mount Everest, sand from the Sahara Desert and air from the South Pole.

The Champions discussed how they should give things a go so they wouldn’t regret not having tried and that if they worked hard, and believed in themselves they had every chance of achieving their dreams. They concluded that whilst it was good to have a back-up plan, they should not lose sight of their dreams, and that life is about moments and memories.

For the final part of the event, Neil split the Champions into two groups and set them a challenge – to cross the swimming pool to the other side, using only the materials they could find, and without getting wet. The teams managed to get across – and no-one fell in!

After a huge thank you to Neil and his family for a wonderful time, (and the chance for one lucky Champion to drive the Sky Car – which he’d stated was one of his goals) the Champions left feeling inspired and there was a lot of discussion on the journey home about their experience.

The Starr Trust would like to say a HUGE thanks to Neil, Oscar, Scarlett and Amber for their generosity in giving the Champions a day to remember and for inspiring them. As one Champion said “when can we do that again? It was AWESOME!

Neil told us “It was an absolute pleasure to have the Starr Trust Champions at Laughton & Co HQ where we ensured they had fun, discussed some important issues and they were set the difficult challenge of building half a raft and collaborating with others to ensure safe passage across the swimming pool. They performed far better than most corporate teams that have attempted this team building exercise!