Former firefighter’s business helps fuel £1m charitable giving

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A former firefighter who left the service to organise expeditions to the Arctic has used his expertise to help others raise over £1m for worthwhile causes.

Lee Peyton, who has been helped by Business Gateway Edinburgh, founded Breaking Strain Events with his business partner, Garry Mackay, in 2008, initially organising gruelling charity challenges in their spare time that they then went on to complete.

As their reputation for arranging unique adrenaline-charged activities grew, individuals, corporates and charities from across the UK began contacting them to organise fundraising events, sponsored expeditions and money-raising fun days on their behalf.

In 2016, Lee left his role as Station Manager with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to focus on growing the enterprise full-time. Since then the company, which is based in Timber Bush, Edinburgh, has organised multiple events that have helped raise 80% of the current £1m fundraising total.

Now, thanks to help from Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme, which is funded by Digital Scotland, the firm is appearing higher in Google searches which has resulted in more enquiries from potential clients looking to trek across the Arctic, up Kilimanjaro, and through the Alps to raise essential funds.

He said: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some great Scottish and national charities that are doing truly amazing work and are staffed by incredibly dedicated people. What we do it provide our clients with exciting once-in-a-lifetime challenges that they would otherwise find incredibly difficult to organise themselves. Every aspect of a challenge, event or expedition, whether it’s for a large group or an individual, is taken care of by our team – from health and safety, first aid and risk management to designing the event, organising transportation, accommodation and guides. 

“Going full-time led me to Business Gateway Edinburgh and through our adviser, we were awarded 21 hours of 1:1 advice from a digital expert after taking the online Digital Health check. That support was a revelation. We thought we were doing fine digitally, but the initial analysis highlighted we didn’t appear in the first 15 pages of Google! After following the advice given we are now the number one result on Google for Arctic treks and have jumped a significant number of pages for other key searches. We’ve also been able to sort out our page load speed and are now working with a new server provider.”

Al Bryce, Business Gateway said: “Personal experience organising fundraising events for themselves paved the way for Lee and Garry to set up a business that has helped others raise a phenomenal sum of money for charity. When people look to complete bucket-list events, like trekking the Arctic, the first thing they do is search for information online. Now, thanks to our DigitalBoost programme, Breaking Strain has improved its ranking which will ultimately help them attract new clients.”

Completing The Great Scottish Run and the Three Peak Challenge in full firefighting gear gave Lee and Garry the bug for organising unique, fundraising challenges, initially launching Breaking Strain to get free kit that they’d then test and review while undertaking their own charitable expeditions.
It was in 2011 that the duo organised their first event for 28 people, the Sally Challenge after a close friend wanted to put on an event to raise money for the charity that was supporting his mother who had been diagnosed with cancer. 

This year the company has organised seven treks to the Arctic, Kilimanjaro and Alps as well as a number of events in the UK that will help thousands of people raise money for charity.

Lee said: “When we started organising events for others we quickly realised that we could have a bigger impact by putting on the events rather than running them ourselves. In the past, we might have raised £500 running a marathon between us, but by setting up events like Run the Blades, which is now in its fourth year, we can have a far bigger financial impact and in turn help, more charities continue to do the great work that they do.”

Find out how Business Gateway Edinburgh can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 0131 516 5035.

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