Expert Interview With Segway Events

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This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Jon, founder of Big Bang Promotions, who own Segway Events. Big Bang Promotions have been with us since day one, being one of the first companies we set up with back in 2006! Segways have become a growing trend, and are now one of the most popular experiences to try. With this in mind, we decided to find out a little more about how it all began – so, enjoy!

Q. How did you get into the Segway experience industry?

A. We had seen the product appear on some of the experience websites so made some enquiries to see if we could do with Segways what we had done with Bungee jumping. We had 10 Bungee locations which were able to take Segways so we could expand nationally and exclusively with the major agencies very quickly to make Segway Events the no 1 provider in the UK within two years of entering the marketplace.

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Q. What’s unique about your Segway experiences; what sets you apart from any other operators out there?

A. We offer a consistent 1-hour product nationwide at 15 locations. No other operator offers this service. We create events with over 100 like-minded people to enjoy the experience together rather than on your own, with all locations chosen so customers can experience the venue once they have been on a Segway with us. For example two of our locations, Tatton Park and Clumber Park are national trust sites. New venues for 2017 include Richmond Golf course in London and a national park near Southampton.

Q. Do you have any interesting customer stories you can share with us?

A. Our oldest rider was 102 and he loved the experience and was part of over 55000 people who came to Segway with us in 2016!

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We would like to thank Jon for taking the time to answer our questions and for telling us a little more about one of the most unusual driving experiences available. If you’re interested in trying out a Segway for yourself then take a look at our Segway experiences!

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New Years Resolutions!

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If you are looking for a new hobby, sport or skill to acquire in the New Year then look no further! Here are some fantastic and (perhaps) obscure ideas for a new you in 2017.

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Why not become a master in cocktail making and take a class in how to mix and match spirits with flavours. Learn the history behind cocktails as well as what makes a delicious Mojito, Margaritas, Pina Coladas and/or Cosmopolitans. This is an excellent way to spend an evening with friends, and the best part of it is you’ll be able to take your new found cocktails skills home with you and keep practising!

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Another fantastic activity that you can continue practising in your own time is photography. You’ll be learning from the professionals as you find your way around the camera and open your eyes to the beauty of the world around you. Whether you choose a cookery photography class or a night time photography class (and everything in between), your friends and family will be asking you to take their pictures next!

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The best way to keep up your new 2017 routine and maintain a good beauty routine is to make your own products! Make your own perfume, shower gels, body butters, body scrubs and even deodorant! Choose from 100% organic materials and ingredients, and know exactly what you’re putting on your skin with a cosmetics or perfume making course.

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Finally, learn how to make mouthwatering recipes from curries to baking to Mexican street food – 2017 is the year to take up a new culinary class! With loads to choose from, cookery classes are the best way to perfect your skills in the kitchen, learn new recipes and combine new flavour combinations. Whether you have a sweet tooth or more of a savoury preference, you are guaranteed to learn exciting new recipes to entice your taste buds.

We hope you’ve enjoyed a small snippet of the various exciting new classes to try this year. With loads to choose from, Make Every Gift An Experience and meet your 2017 resolutions!

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Experience Days Has Gone Mince Pie Mad!

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Now that we finally don’t feel sick anymore, we can publish our  Mince Pie Madness blog. It’s fair to say, we went a little mince-pie mad in the office over the last week. We set it upon ourselves to try every mince pie, from every shop and every variety – with a few added freshly baked pies thrown in aswell! We may have gone a little overboard with 19 boxes for only 4 mince pie eaters, but hey you can never have to many mince pies. After last year’s mince pie off, will the Waitrose All Butter Mince Pies remain victorious? Or will a new contender steal the crown. New contenders in the race are….

Tesco Iced Mince Pie

The soft iced topping certainly adds a different texture to the classic mince pie. The pies are not to big or small that you’re over welcomed or feel cheated on with the festive treat. Our one criticism is that the icing is a little too thick and takes away from the mince-pie filling goodness.

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M&S Star Mince Pies

These pies get a 10/10 for appearance unanimously across the office critics. The pastry star adds a nice homemade-like element to the pie and they are just about the right size too!

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Morrison’s Bakery

There are two contenders coming up from Morrison’s Bakery. Its the battle of the ‘Mince Pie’ vs ‘The Best Mince Pies’. In our opinion, the ‘bes’t didn’t live up to their name – they were just too much to handle and very deep. We’re more of a fan of the tart shaped style of pie.

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Asda Gingerbread House Kit

Now we know this isn’t a mince pie, but we thought we’d include it anyway. This include-it-all kit is a great shortcut to having to make all the components yourself. At only £4, this makes the perfect Secret Santa present for any age!

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So there you have it, our new contenders for the 2016 Mince Pie Off. There wasn’t a unanimous winner with divided opinion amongst the office. However, my personal favourite was the Waitrose All Butter Mince Pie, so it steals the crown again!

We hope you all had a good Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

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Christmas Gift Guide!

christmasWith Christmas fast approaching, we have lots of exciting experiences that make the perfect Christmas Gifts. Experiences make unique, once in a lifetime gifts that will be remembered forever, buying someone the opportunity to do something they have always dreamed of is an excellent way to start the New Year. Whether you are looking for something to fuel adrenaline or rejuvenate and relax, no matter who the recipient; Parents, In-laws, Children, Colleagues or your Partner – here is a guide to buying the perfect Christmas Experience Day!

Bannatyne Spa Days

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With Bannatyne Spas up and down the country, this is one of our most popular gifts this Christmas. The perfect way to recharge your batteries, sit back, relax and enjoy a selection of tranquil treatments. This is a great gift to buy someone (as they may even take you as their +1!) as everyone needs a bit of relaxation time every now and again. This is especially a great gift for Mothers (in-law), to show appreciation for everything they have done, particularly after the Christmas period. With lots of treatments to choose from including a back massage, neck and shoulder massage, Elemis body polish, facials or manicures (and many more), the options are truly endless. Needless to say, this is one of our best Spa Days and for good reason!

Goodwood Track Days

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Known primarily for hosting the Festival Of Speed, the Goodwood track is one of the most popular driving tracks in the UK. From classic cars to unusual vehicles, there are loads of Goodwood Track packages to choose from. If you’re into Movie Cars, why not choose the ultimate four car track package. From the Barricade police car from the Transformers Movie to the Nissan Skyline from Fast And Furious, this is the ultimate movie car fanatics dream! If you are looking for a more classic and sleek 007 driving experience – why not drive the Aston Martin Vantage V8? The options are truly endless at Goodwood!

 

London Days Out

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London is by far one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the UK. Making a perfect day out for anyone and being easy to get to, London is a great choice when looking for a Christmas Experience Gift. Whether you choose a Romantic Sundowner Dinner Cruise, a High-Speed RIB Ride  or a leisurely stroll through Kensington Palace – London is full of adventures for everyone.

Cookery Workshops

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Last but by no means least we have chosen something that is an excellent way to start off the New Year. Cookery workshops are excellent ways to pick up new skills, learn how to blend ingredients and perfect baking skills. From Sausage making to Knife Skills to Macaron Making Classes, these classes are suitable for both cooking experts and amateurs. If you know someone who has a passion for cooking and always wants to learn more techniques and recipes, or someone who has no cooking skills whatsoever and needs to start learning from the basics; cooking experiences are the way to go!

All our vouchers come perfectly packaged, ready to go straight under the Christmas tree. These are just some of the fantastic Christmas Gifts you can find on our site, with thousands to choose from, why not make Every Gift An Experience!

 

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Secret Santa Gift Ideas

santaIt’s that time of year again; the office Christmas party is looming, you’re hosting a reunion of old school friends, and you can’t afford to buy each of your twelve cousins a present each so you need a way of picking your favourite. Thankfully, there’s Secret Santa! Sometimes it can be difficult to buy on a budget, especially when you’re not overly familiar with the recipient, so we’ve put together this Secret Santa Gift Guide to help you choose something unique that won’t break the bank!

driftDrifting Passenger Ride – £15.00

Suitable for all ages, this adrenaline-pumping drifting experience is ideal for thrill seekers and those who feel the need for speed! Passengers will be treated to three laps with a professional driver at the wheel of the track-prepared drifting car, spinning in fast circles and smoking up the tarmac. With four locations across the country and no need for a licence, this car experience makes a great gift for a whole variety of people.

 

sausage-2Sausage Making Experience in Northumberland – £19.00

Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in with a unique sausage making class! This gourmet experience is great value for money and provides skills that can be used at home in the kitchen, so guests can impress their friends with delicious homemade sausages. Perfect for budding chefs or culinary connoisseurs looking to learn something new, you can’t go wrong!

 

 

archeryArchery Experience for 2 in Essex – £18.00

Archery is one of those activities that not many people would think of trying, but always absolutely love when they do. This experience in Essex takes place in a disused nuclear bunker and is run by professional instructors who will help improve aim, strength and technique whilst ensuring everyone is having a great time. Challenge your friends to see who comes out on top!

 

 

tea-2Traditional Cream Tea for 2 in Devon – £15.00

Afternoon tea experiences are ideal for Secret Santa gifts, because who doesn’t love tea and cake? This gift voucher entitles two lucky people to indulge in delicious fresh scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, all in the lovely surroundings of the Highbullen Hotel in Devon. The only tricky part is deciding what goes first, jam or cream?

 

 

trampolineTrampolining Experience in Warwickshire – £19.00

If you’re buying for someone who regularly embraces their inner child, then this two hour trampolining session is just the ticket. With a whole room of bounce zones, foam pits and rope swings to play with, the lucky recipient is in for hours of non-stop fun that will leave them breathless but grinning from ear to ear. And at this price, you can buy yourself a voucher too!

 

 

This concludes our Secret Santa Gift Guide, but there are loads more activities available online in locations across the UK. Experiences can be sorted by price: low to high (which is our best friend when shopping on a budget), and gift packs are the size of a CD case, meaning they fit perfectly in a stocking. Happy holidays!

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Sew In Brighton: Expert Interview With Kat

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On our trip to Sew In Brighton, we managed to get a few minutes with Kat, the owner and founder of the business! She told us all about how it all started and where her passion for sewing came from.

Q: How did Sew in Brighton begin?

A: It began because I got RSI doing an office job, I am a fashion designer by trade, but when I moved to Brighton I was doing an office job. I was thinking maybe I should teach something and thought I could put my fashion designer past to good use – I know how to sew and do pattern cutting. So, I decided to do that and starting some classes in my living room. I then hired a venue to do a pattern cutting course and it took off from there. I got this place as somewhere to work, and my website took off. I decided to put on classes and they gained popularity and just started getting fuller and fuller so it turned into a full-time job!

Q: Where did your passion for sewing come from?

A: When I was little I was always drawing people in clothes and cats in clothes and drew lots of outfits. I was really into art, and I used to make some of my own clothes, jewellery and toys. My sister and I used to have stalls at local fares where we would sell our creations. I went to fashion school when I was 16, and it all started from there! I did four years of fashion and then I was making more clothes and my sister and I would make these incredible outfits for our nights out when we went clubbing.
When I finally finished studying I set up a fashion label and my outfits ended up in my shop! So it was all very continual from a young age, it all kind of merges through until now. I had a fashion label for ten years called Wit & Wisdom which had lots of corsets, with sequins and little jeans, tiny skirts and fur collared waist coats. But I’d call it ‘well-made party wear’ – all very well made and  good quality clothes.

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Q: What’s your favourite thing about running these kinds of courses?

A: I really like the challenge of fitting, getting things to fit people that have figures that the clothes you buy in the shops don’t fit. I like the general run of the business, I’m quite resourceful by nature and solution focused. So running a business means that you have to constantly find solutions to everything and find a better way of doing things all the time and I weirdly quite like admin as well. I really enjoy working for myself and it’s just so different to working for someone else.

Q: Do you make a lot of your own clothes?

A: I make all my own jeans, and that’s about it because I’m so busy. I do a lot of my own alterations. The plan is to do more sewing – always! But work gets in the way, especially because I’m doing it all day.

20161115_111402Q: Do you have any plans for the future?

A: Not in particular, more or less to keep the business how it is really. I am happy with the size and scale and business of it all at the minute. Perhaps some more people in certain classes and maybe get some more time to do one on one fittings for people. My main goal is just to be happy!

Q: What’s your favourite piece that someone has made in one of your classes?

A: My favourite piece would probably a vintage 50s style dress someone made, with fitted petticoats underneath and nice prints, big petticoats and clean cuts.

 

We would like to say a massive thank you to Kat for taking the time to speak to us and telling us all about Sew In Brighton. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and would love to go back again! If you would like to have a go in one of Kat’s sewing classes, click here.

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Our Visit To Sew In Brighton: Staff Review

11581342Last week we got to meet Kat, the owner and founder of Sew In Brighton. We were particularly excited about this visit as it was just down the road from us, and neither of us had ever been to a sewing class before!

We got the train to Hove station and made the short walk over to the sewing workshop building. We were greeted by Kat and introduced to the people taking part in the workshop. Launched in 2008, Sew In Brighton is a small boutique workshop, run by sewing experts in the heart of Brighton. Many of the people taking part in the workshop have weekly classes or one-to-one classes, working on projects from dresses to pillows to skirts and more!

20161115_111636       20161115_111402Sewing is an intricate activity but is highly rewarding once it’s mastered. In this sew class there were people with different levels of skills, from beginner to advanced. With various patterns and materials to choose from, students can bring in their own materials to use and have free use of the ironing boards, pins and sewing machines in the class. The room that the class took place in was cosy and creative, with garments and projects displayed, including different bits of material and sewing books. It was clear that this is an excellent and creative environment to work in, and taking up sewing classes with Kat is a great way to get your sewing career started! The classes involve taking in projects that you are already working on or starting new projects in class i.e. making a cushion or skirt. You can go off and keep working on your projects at home or in class – it’s entirely up to you!

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When the class had ended we got a chance to meet Kat properly and ask her a few questions about herself and how the company was founded (see Expert Interview blog). It was clear that she is the best woman for it with over 33 years of experience in fashion design, pattern making and managing fashion retail stores.

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Staff Review: London Macaron Making Class With Jenius Social

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When you here about the sweet, chewy meringue-like treat of Macarons, to me even the name sounds fancy and I can guess that they’d be challenging to make. But, after attending a Macaron Making Class in London this week, I’ve been proven wrong and can now proudly say I would be able to recreate these at home. Our lesson could not have taken place in a more charming location than Jenius Socials’ kitchen in Islington, London, or led by a better chef than Andrew.

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Our experience started by hopping on the tube to Highbury & Islington, then a short walk from the station to the kitchen which was easily found with the good ol’ help of Google Maps.  We were met by the lovely Jennifer, owner of Jenius Social, and welcomed into the seating area at the front of the shop. As we prepared our cameras and the other guests for the class arrived, we were offered complimentary tea and coffee which was warmly welcomed in this horrible November weather! Next, it was time to get our aprons on and get cooking!

Andrew provided a demonstration of the first step and I offered a helping hand as his (not so glamorous) assistant. It was a two man job, as one person whisks the egg whites whilst the other gradually adds caster sugar – then it was our turn to have a go. You know the mixture is ready when you turn it upside down, and the soft peaks stay in the bowl – it’s risky testing it however! You then add a few drops of your desired food colouring and give it a final whizz to mix it all together. Following this, you sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar together to ensure there are no lumps that would ruin the soft texture. We then carefully folded this into our meringue mixture using a method called ‘scratching’ so that we wouldn’t lose any of the worked in air.

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Now comes the tricky bit, as warned by Andrew – piping the macarons to be the same size in order to make the perfect, even sandwich shape.  The room fell silent as we all focused intently on making sure they were perfectly piped. They then went in the oven and we enjoyed a 10 minute break as Andrew closely watched the oven and our delicious bakes. Once the macarons were out the oven and set out to cool, we made the buttercream filling by whisking butter, icing sugar and our chosen vanilla flavouring. We were then let loose with decorations, with a selection of different items from sprinkles, to chocolate balls and melted chocolate. Our macarons were finally finished and we of course had to try one (or a few!) before packing them away to take home and share with the office.

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This Professional Macaron Making Class in London was the perfect taster for a cooking class newbie like myself and I am excited to try making them again at home. Thanks again to Jennifer and Andrew for this expertly run class, we had a great time!

 

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Expert Interview with Icarus Falconry

bird-of-prey-falconry-blog-interviewThis week, we have been catching up with one of our fabulous Bird of Prey experience providers – Icarus Falconry, in Northamptonshire. Expert Falconer, Jo Askew was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to share her knowledge with us…

falconer-icarus-bop-centreHi Jo, it’s lovely to speak with you…to start with, please could you explain a little about the history of Icarus Falconry? Where did an interest in the industry originally stem from?

The centre was born from the passion of Mike Hewlett (and his then business partner), for birds of prey and the natural world. Set up in the early 2000s to be a centre of excellence for the care of birds of prey and hands-on experiences, the centre has also continued to remember its roots in the historic sport of falconry. The collection of birds here has grown over the years, to become one of the most diverse in the country.

What makes your experiences unique and special for customers?

We specialise in making our guests experiences unforgettable and as hands-on as possible. The emphasis is very much focused on guests having the opportunity to handle and spend quality time with our birds, in both the natural surroundings of the rolling countryside and woodland, and the fine formal gardens of Holdenby House. Small groups (up to 4 participants) ensure that everyone who attends gets lots of opportunity to handle the birds and receive maximum attention of our expert staff.

pedro-burrowing-owlWhat can you tell us about your most popular birds?

Our most popular bird by a long way is ‘Pedro’, our Burrowing Owl. At a mere 4.5oz he is the smallest owl we work with at the centre and one that anyone can get involved with flying. Like all of our owls, Pedro has been hand-reared by staff, so he is very confident when flying to guests. The joy of having such a tiny owl gently alight from the palm of your hand is an experience which is never forgotten! As his name suggests, Pedro also enjoys tunnelling through his very own custom-built burrows!

I also got the opportunity to hand rear a baby Milky Eagle Owl (Africa’s largest species of owl!) this year. He spent all his baby time in my home and came everywhere with me. He now flies to guests at the centre, on experience days and I am very proud.

bird-of-prey-centreWhat are the biggest perks of the job?

As a falconer, I have the privilege of working with what is essentially a wild animal on a daily basis, and love watching them progress, displaying their natural behaviour in the air. This gives me a brilliant opportunity to teach people all about the natural world and, where possible, how they can help with the conservation of endangered species.

Being out in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside everyday isn’t bad either!

And are there any less enjoyable aspect of Falconry?

It’s not always dry! The weather can occasionally test us and sometimes means a halt in birds’ training.

barn-owl-bird-of-prey-dayWhat’s your most frequently asked question from customers?

Q. Can I take photographs?

A. Of course you can! We want all our guests to capture the abundance of wonderful memories being made during their experience.

Do you have any exclusive information you can share with us?

Throughout the seasons the flying team changes and we are often training new additions, so every experience is different. A word to the wise – if you visit us in the spring there is every chance you’ll see some of our baby birds being fed, reared and trained.

And finally…are there any members of the team you’d like to give a special mention to?

All of them! Our small team of staff are dedicated to the job they do with our birds and the care of the guests they welcome to the centre.

Thanks again, Jo for chatting with us! If you’d like to take part in either a full day or half day bird of prey experience with the fantastic falconers at Icarus, please take a look at the activity details, here.

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Experience Days Breaks Bungee World Record!

Bungee Jump World Record Holders

That’s right you heard it here, we have just broken a Guinness World Record! With some help from our good friends at UK Bungee Club and Simon Berry – chief bungee jumper for the day, we have broken the record for (dun, dun dun….) The Highest Bungee Dunk.

It was a courageous effort from Simon, who had to jump 10 times in order to nail the perfect dunk of the biscuit into a mug of tea whilst still leaving it standing. So, a massive thank you to Simon and UK Bungee for their efforts and to the Guinness World Record Officials for coming to witness the jump. Here’s a bit more about what each of us did to help:

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Maddie: The World Record took a lot of planning but it was definitely worth it to break it! One of the jobs I helped with was trying to find a mug online that was the right dimensions set by Guinness. It’s not easy to find mugs which are exactly 15cm x 15cm without other branding on them. I  also helped with some biscuit social media research in order to find the nations favourite biscuit – with McVities being the clear winner of course! No biscuit would be complete without its accompanying cup of tea, with Yorkshire Tea being our firm favourite to use. We made sure we did a mock ‘dunking’ so we could test the best Go-Pro setting to capture the moment. I’m sure not many other placement students can say they helped break a world record on their year out of University.

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Evie: Being the office designated driver, my job on the World Record weekend was pretty simple. We packed up the car, made it to Windsor in one piece, and even had enough time to check out the Segway Rally going on nearby! Since many hands make light work, I took it upon myself to set up a few of the GoPro cameras to create the perfect make-shift Hawk Eye system, which is no easy task given the complexity of GoPro attachments. Once the record attempts began our role got significantly easier – just sit back, clap, and cheer Simon to victory!

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Leoni: The lead up to the event was super exciting. With lots to do and specifications to stick to, I was given the job of hunting down the perfect mug to fit in with the specific dimensions Guinness set for the dunk. With the help of a local pottery studio, we managed to find THE mug which led us to Guinness victory! It was great getting involved in the planning and setting up on the day, especially as we were in such a great location for it. Once of the best parts was being able to watch live footage from the Go Pro on Simon’s head through the iPad, as we could see exactly what he was seeing. The first couple of jumps were really nerve racking and were very close, when Simon actually managed to break the record everyone jumped up and cheered. Not only was it great that we managed to break it, but I think we all felt relieved for him too, that he didn’t have to jump anymore!

Robb: After we just missed out with last year’s record attempt, there was a lot of pressure to break it this time round. The whole team should be proud of their contribution and achievement. Now to start thinking about what our next record will be!

Keep an eye out for our record on Guinness World Record Day and Simon talking about the jump on TV!

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