Employees of a UK firm with offices all over the country and an HQ in Derbyshire have finally crossed the finish line in a truly Olympic-sized charity challenge that brought hundreds together to help people with their mental health.
Since 2021, nearly 70 staff at Lubrizol – which has a headquarters in Hazelwood in Derbyshire – have walked, run, cycled, rowed, swam, climbed and even played golf over a total distance of 8,542 miles, between a quarter and fifth of the circumference of the world!
Dubbed the “Lubrizol Olympics”, the company’s original aim was to reach a target of £25,000 for mental health charity Mind by covering the equivalent distance from the UK to Japan, 5,882 miles, where the Olympic Games were hosted in 2021.
Team events bringing company staff together were planned to enable Lubrizol to reach its target. But when the third Covid lockdown hit in 2021, employees adapted by completing many challenges on their own in order to reach the goal. One member of staff rowed 1,000 miles on a home-rowing machine, while another took to the water on the Beaulieu River in Poole harbour to row 21 miles – the equivalent of the English Channel.
Eighteen months later, Lubrizol’s employees have finally reached their £25,000 target after a team of 14 from offices in Derbyshire and Barnsley completed the famously gruelling Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, which involves climbing Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough within 12 hours – a distance of some 24 miles.
Chris Hart-Jones, production manager at Lubrizol’s Barnsley site and responsible for orchestrating the Lubrizol Olympics, said: “I’m so proud of Lubrizol, all our employees, and everyone who supported us to complete the Olympics challenge.
“It has gone beyond my expectations. When we started to plan the event, it was pre-Covid. When Covid came, it changed everything. What it did was spur people’s imaginations. Faced with being unable to get to the gym, many of our staff members massively rose to the challenge by coming up with their own ideas, for example: rowing 1,000 miles at home.
“Our final team event, the Yorkshire Three Peaks, was tough but enjoyable. It was a great opportunity to meet people I hadn’t met before because they joined the company during Covid and we had only met over the screen for online meetings.”
Chris personally undertook all team events organised by Lubrizol when social gathering was once again permitted: walking up Snowdon in Wales, Scafell in the Lake District, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and Mam Tor in Derbyshire. He also completed all the distance between Lubrizol’s sites on a Peloton bike!
Another employee who enthusiastically took part in the Lubrizol Olympics and all team events was Suraj Lal, of Derby, who retired this year as an engineer at Lubrizol after working there for 27 and a half years.
Not content with his daily 15-mile return cycle ride from his home in Allestree to work at Hazelwood near Belper, Suraj undertook to pedal an additional 100 miles a month for a half year period in order to help the company reach its target.
Suraj said: “It was the Lubrizol Olympics and we all needed to do something. When lockdown came, it would have been easy to do nothing but sometimes doing something is actually easier still! Once you commit, you have to complete a challenge. I found myself cycling here, there and everywhere at weekends and evenings over and above my normal commute, to reach our goal.
“It was about raising money for Mind, for people who don’t have a voice and perhaps may just go back into their shell when they are struggling. Mind is a very good charity. Covid affected people who used to have a social environment at work. It represented a sudden change in lifestyle. I just thought it was an important cause to be raising money for and I was proud to support it.”
Having now reached its target of £25,000 for Mind, Lubrizol is still carrying on fundraising until the end of 2022 so the total amount raised is likely to be higher still.
Employees from the company’s sites across the UK who participated in the Lubrizol Olympics were supported by more than 800 friends, family and colleagues, whose donations enabled the company to reach its fundraising goal of £25,000.
Other personal challenges included solo completion of the Yorkshire Three Peaks; a team of 15 walking 400,000 steps each in a three-month period; a 24-hour gym challenge undertaken by four students in Manchester, plus Derbyshire Lubrizol employees and married couple Claire and Tim Hollingshurst who ran, walked and cycled the equivalent distance from John O’ Groats to Land’s End – 603 miles – as well as undertaking the Yorkshire Three Peaks themselves.
Chris said: “It’s a wonderful achievement that Lubrizol’s staff have come together to complete this challenge for Mind, and a huge relief that on our last organised team event we hit our target. I think I’ll enjoy a nice rest now but I’ll look forward to seeing what charity Lubrizol will agree to support next.”
Photos: Lubrizol Olympics participants taking part in challenges. (captions on images)
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