Beeline Britain is a fundraising expedition project that not only completed the first-ever straight-line journey between Land’s End and John O’ Groats, but also had the ground-breaking idea of using students to carry out key support roles.
The team comprised Nick Beighton, a Paralympian rower and former soldier who lost both his legs while on service in Afghanistan; Ian O’Grady, an RAF helicopter crewman; Tori James, the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest; and Adam Harmer, a kayak coach. They hiked, biked and kayaked the 1,100km journey in 28 days, finishing on 13 June.
The project has so far raised £14,500 for Blesma, the charity for wounded and limbless veterans. But perhaps more unusual than the raising of money and awareness was the project’s focus on developing the skills and confidence of young people.
It accomplished this by partnering with the youth development consultant Richard Strudwick, who arranged for a team of students from Liverpool John Moores University to accompany the four adventurers during the month it took them to make the journey. "Rather than paying to have a full professional support team, I suggested that we use students to fill some of those roles," says Strudwick.
Under his mentorship, the students planned the logistics of the expedition, managed up to £40,000-worth of kit, carried out fundraising, wrote press releases and contacted the media. "I’ve had some great feedback on how valuable they found the opportunity to be part of a development programme," Strudwick said. "It raised the profile of the university and improved the students’ CVs. They’ve now got some really good contacts in the media and are in talks about getting internships with companies such as Sky.
"As for Beeline Britain, there’s no way the team would have got this coverage if it hadn’t worked with the students. So far, we’ve had 77 media articles and reached more than 18,000 people on Facebook."