Archive for the ‘The People’ Category

Day 14

Another early start for BNI Darwin which holds their meeting at prestigious Kent County Cricket ground. Sadly, no cricket shirts for the project but some enthused supporters of The Shirt and within minutes of the event, Mark Edwards had this report out. The picture shows me with Darwin visitor host Marie Shallcross, and Steve Evans BNI regional director and John the guide dog.


The day started well ….. and got better! I awoke in the prestigious Harpenden House Hotel where BNI member Katherine Webster-Brown had organised a “deal of the century” for me. A spotless single room with bath and shower, free biscuits and coffee. Deep, deep joy! (What no bunk beds? No 16 drunken student mixed dormitories?)

If anybody is in the Harpenden, Hemel, Luton or St Albans area then this hotel is highly recommended. I say this not only because I got a great rate but more so because the level of service was second to none. When I arrived on the bike, there was no problem for the helpful receptionist. He checked the diary and locked it away in an unused conference room. I mused that he had not been to the same charm school as the “receptionist” in Waterloo who told me to put it on the roof terrace which was conveniently 4 floors up on a spiral staircase.

If the welcome exceeded any reasonable expectation then the room and its facilities were simply the icing on the cake.

Thanks Kathryn, today I feel human!

From the hotel, it was a short 45 minute cycle to the Chariots BNI breakfast in the elegant Verulam Golf Club (Home of the Ryder Cup!) The meeting was excellent and the welcome afforded to me by Kathryn, Katherine, Chris and others was equallly inspiring. It was also nice to see an old friend Garry Rogers who I had not met for at least 10 years! I’m not sure who was most surprised, Garry or Steve. Thanks all.

Professional photographer Chris Hawkes is the chapter education co-ordinator and he was ready and waiting to take some great photos. Thanks, Chris

Day 12

After four crazy, crazy days Monday was a bit quieter. I left World Cup Willy and cycled down to the Regus Centre to get a signature on the Regus shirt but it was closed with the bank holiday cursing the journey! So, off down the road to Watford’s Vicarage Road which again was pretty well locked-up. I remember the ground well from when I lived just down the road and it was sad to have seen the decline. In truth, it did not appear to have been touched in the last 10 years. Sad.

From there it was down the road to Hemel Hempstead Rugby League Football Club. I was Chairman at the Stags in the late 90s and was delighted to find the founder Bob Brown in the newly revamped clubhouse. Bob has almost single-handedly steered the team (and the club) for 20 years and is a TRUE sporting hero.


It is always invidious to talk about good days and bad days, good meetings and bad meetings or good presentations and bad presentations but Sunday was definitely a GOOD day.

First I had lunch with a long-time friend and owner of Mr O’s Thai Restaurant in Crouch End. The steep hills were made easier in the knowledge that we would have a great meal in a convivial atmosphere. The killer climb up Muswell Hill (I pushed!) was also made easier or at least more pleasant by a number of glimpses of Arsenal’s new ground (The Emirates Stadium) in the distance. Sadly, time beat me but I will be back to add it to the other 91 clubs,

Then I was off to Barnet (Club 6). It is a small village team just outside London and a club which only escaped relegation out of the football league on the last day of the season. It’s probably 15 years since I was last there and sadly few other fans have passed through the turnstiles either as The Bees have one of the lowest average attendances in England. Anyway, they are club 6 and equally welcome as their bigger brothers to the project. (Update: some 115 days later I was delighted to be presented a Barnet shirt by the Vision BNI chapter who had made contact with the club and whose chairman, Tony Kleanthous, obliged. Thanks Mr Kleanthous and thanks Vision.)

Vision BNI (Southgate) present a signed Barnet shirt.

The day was finished with a superb meal and hospitality chez Wil and Paula in Watford. Wil Corker is a man with a mission and I was delighted to hear all about it, He has committed to attend the Homeless World Cup in Brazil this autumn. You can (and should!) read more about his challenge here. It was a great evening and a shower and bed were much appreciated. Thanks and good luck.

Day 9

During w/c 24th May, I had the pleasure of visiting 6 BNI chapters and saw REAL quality networking. The UK National Directors of BNI and Dr Ivan Misner, BNI Chairman & Founder should be proud!

John Coupland, Regional Director, BNI London South East was the perfect host and a great BNI ambassador. He organised accommodation and welcomed me into his family in Bromley. We raced around the area together and I visited Crofton, Innovations, Endeavour (Visitors Day) and Magnum Opus chapters in 3 days!

One of his teenage children leant me her mountain bike, (thankfully not pink!), as my touring bike won’t be ready until 2nd June at the soonest. John enabled me to share my extensive sales & marketing skills and offer work to fellow members to help me earn my £20 a day all inclusive ‘refugee budget’. This included handing out leaflets and speaking to various local businesses for Paul Castle, MD, The Crest Partnership, Biggin Hill.

I was pleased to be able to provide a number of referrals during my visits to the chapters and have connected a number of high profile business people to some members. John also introduced me to some TOP contacts within and outside of BNI and, most importantly, is continuing to support me as I enter the other BNI regions, by using social media effectively and making calls on my behalf. One example is his introduction to Trevor Smith, ‘Assistant Director of the Year’, BNI Surrey, where I visited 2 of their chapters.

Wallington had a great Curry and Beer evening which was a great success for all concerned. They also kindly funded the accommodation at their venue. A few hours later and just a few miles down the road I was at the Kingswood chapter which really was BNI at its very best. Busy, professional and with referalls flying everywhere. Congratulations to Alan Norris and his team.

Please read John’s blog to understand what this means to him, so many others and I. Thank you everyone! Steve.

Sadly, along with the good times, come the bad times. I cycled off to Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Palace but everything was chained up and the offices were empty. Tragically, it seems that today is the day when the club went into administration – or at least through another stage of the process. So, Ground One of the 92 and not good news. Hope I am not going to be a jinx! Maybe I will be able to revisit it on my way back in three months’ time. Good luck to everybody at the club. Football can’t afford to lose you!

Day 8

Great News! After a number of false dawns, broken promises and vague offers, I now have a bike. Please say “hi” to Sidcup Cycle Centre. Finally, I have a bike organised. Thanks, guys!

I saw the Centre advertised in Esporta, Chislehurst and walked the few miles to the store. It is a very impressive, impeccably clean and professional showroom and workshops near Sidcup railway station. I explained my situation to Nigel and he quickly took me through the options. I confirmed that the project had no funding nor corporate sponsorship and was not in a position to lay out 2000 GBP for a new bike. I continued that I tried to earn 20 pounds per day and that this was the entire funding for the project. I offered a deposit and to pay weekly out of my “earnings” for a quality pre-owned bike. I am delighted to confirm that we quickly came to an agreement.

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Nigel and his team to the project. I feel very “safe” being supported by such a professional organisation.

If you are in London or north west Kent, I would recommend the Sidcup Cycle Centre.

Day 6

Tuesday started with a great BNI meeting and then after a few phonecalls, blogs, tweets etc it was off to another lunch-time BNI presentation. It was also “the big day” as I realised that the promised bike was now as likely as Gillingham winning the premiership and I took up John’s kind offer of a loan bike. It’s not entirely suitable for the entire journey but it will get me around London. Thanks John.

I also got some photos through from Rob at Enfield futsal to replacement the ones that I screwed up and as you can see below my great friend Simon Ellinas completed a great caricature of Ecademy founder Penny Power.

Penny has been a true supporter of the project since day one (and before!) and manifestly “walks the walk” as far as supporting Ecademy members is concerned. Penny, your support is massively appreciated.

What an amazing day!

What an amazing day!

The day was going well when I got an unexpected and unsolicited email from an Ecademy contact, Milton Rodrigues, “Dear Steve,

I am happy to give you something I treasure, to help raise awareness for your great cause :-

A KOOKABURRA Shirt signed by the greatest Test Bowler of all-time,

SHANE WARNE ( 708 Test Wickets ) . Additionally, if I can & on the T20 Finals Day at the Rose Bowl, where I know the Hampshire Commercial Manager, Andy…I will try & get the great KEVIN PIETERSEN to sign it as well.

I was going to give it to my Son, Jamie who is a double Middlesex Champion with his Bessborough CC, but he already has a brand new Ricky Ponting Kookaburra Carnage bat.
So should be happy enough !

See you at SOUTHEND CC on the 5th Sept !

Milton Rodrigues
Surge-ITS Network Engineers, Wembley.
Co-Leader, ECADEMY Cricket Club.”

I replied, “My goodness, Milton,

I am ABSOLUTELY humbled that you would offer this.

Of course, I accept with thanks and humility. You can ABSOLUTELY be assured that I will pump the MAXIMUM out of this donation.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly the type of gesture that makes Ecademy so great.

So whether you have a Shane Warne shirt or a Joe Soap shirt, please consider forwarding it to me. Better still meet up with me and we’ll get the press along to maximise the impact of the donation. If you do not have a shirt, pop down to your carboot sale, Chinese bazaar or wherever and get any shirt you like. Sign in, get your friends and family to sign and it call it FC Xerox, FC Zebra Web, FC York Seo Services or whatever your company is and anyway we go. Tina gave us FC Ecademy Denmark, Aron’s is FC Leasing Options and I´ll get you good PR. Perhaps you know a celebrity – we have Totti, John Arne Riise, Sir Elton John, Fish, Iron Maiden, Frank Worthington. What about a shirt signed by Paul Potts, Amanda whatever her name is that chose him, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Branson …… sorry I have been out of England so long I am not sure who your celebrities are!

On my “Bucket List” as I travel I would love to meet Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scally, Ryan Giggs, JK Rowling, Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton, Arthur Scargill, Dennis Skinner, Martin Offiah, Ian Botham, Sir Alan Sugar, Geoff Boycott, Dr Ivan Meisner and Neil Kinnock. Can anybody assist?

Where to meet? Ecademy London this Thursday would be a great start! Then it´s Croydon Ecademy on the 27th, Manchester 25th June, Ecademy London 15th July, Bristol Boardroom in August, Ecademy Cricket in Southend …….and wherever else you invite me!

Milton, thanks again. I really look forward to meeting you ….just don’t put me in opening bat!

Kind Regards

Steve Hall”

What an amazing gesture! After 108 days’ cycling I seem to have volunteered for a game of cricket at the Ecademy Cricket Match in Southend! I guess I´ll just about have the strength to slice the cucumber!

Staysure Insurance

Delighted to confirm that Staysure Insurance have kindly offered to insure me on my journey. I feel a lot better knowing that I have a prestigious company covering me. Please check their site for full details.

(Actually they let me down BADLY at the very last minute. Disappointed to see that they have had free publicity for 5 years!)

More and more dates are being confirmed.

20 May London Excel – Business Start Up
20 May London Victoria – Ecademy Evening

17 June Bury, Manchester – The Best of Bury Exhibition

Thanks to all

It has been a hectic few days and as well as training, packing and generally making myself ready for the next four months on the road, I have been seeking “sponsors” and “friends”. It is clear that we live in very troubled times and finding anybody to fund the project has proven impossible. I have not even found anybody who will loan me a bike. However, I have found a number of people who are helping me in an intangible way.

It is always invidious to name name but a number of people quite simply have to be thanked publicly. I have deliberately not put them in any particular order as they are all equally important

1) Pete Clark who is hosting this site
2) Staysure Insurance who have kindly offered to insure me.
3) Glowmark a terrific security product.
4) The Best Of a national company promoting “The Best”
5) Simon Ellinas who has very kindly agreed to do as caricature (as below) to all who become “sponsor of the day”

Guys, I thank you all profusely. Without you this trip would have been impossible. Period. It would be great if all my supporters checked out the sites above to see whether you could have need for their products and services.

Thanks again to all above but I really need everyone’s help and I would ask you whether you would consider becoming the sponsor of the day at just 20GBP. For that you get a guarantee of a minimum 2 hours work from me. Tell me what you want and I will try to assist.

My thought is that for my 20 GBP expenses, I should do two hours work for the sponsor of the day. It could be delivering leaflets, setting up a blog, doing cold calls or door-knocking, training a sales force, showing you how to save money on your phone bills (that should save you the 20 many times over!), washing your car, digging your graden, teaching you English, Spanish or Swedish.

My most “valuable” contribution? We could do a 1-2-1 and when I get to know you I could go through my contact lists (virtual and IRL) and hand-pick 4/5 people to introduce you to. Who wants an intro to Virgin Group or some of the football clubs? Who wants an intro to a quality twitter coach or NLP practicioner? Who wants a free holiday in Spain? Who wants their web-site tidied? Who wants a professional logo? I have the contacts for most things…… Pretty much anything in fact!

I am also looking for accommodation sponsors. If you know of a hotel or hostel that will give me a room, I would be grateful. I am happy to pay for all food and drink at any hotel that offers me a room for a night or more. I am particularly looking for assistance in London, the S.West, Yorkshire and the E.Midlands. Again for the hotel I will offer two hours’ work in the hotel or as per above.