Posted: 06 Nov. 2020 8 min. read

My ‘around the world’ challenge for Black History Month - by Ed Britton

Since being a graduate, I’ve always commuted by bike. First dodging the wayward traffic of the Kingsland Road in London, then the maelstrom of Elephant and Castle roundabout and more recently the pot holes of Manchester. Whilst I appreciate this wouldn’t sound appealing to everyone, it has always provided me with a defined beginning and end to my working day. That precious 30 minute ride not only kept me fit, but gave me headspace to think, rest and leave the office behind. I took my cycle for granted, not realising how lucky I was to have found an activity that I loved, which also fit perfectly into my working week.

Fast forward 15 years and my daily commute is no longer possible. During the first few months of the pandemic, my own physical and mental health fell to the bottom of the list of priorities; replaced with the balancing act of busy work schedules and looking after two young kids (4 yrs and 18 months). It was also during this period that my back went into spasm, rendering me completely useless with childcare for a few weeks and placing more pressure on my family. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure this was the culmination of physical and mental challenges of lockdown, as well as my declining fitness. Something had to change.

My wife led the charge with signing up to a half marathon and then started hounding me out of the house to slowly trot around the block once a week. Although I knew it was good for me, I was begrudging at first, as I still missed my daily commute.

Come October and in celebration of Black History Month, Mathew Evans-Pollard, lead partner for Planning and Development at Deloitte Real Estate team, committed our team to the seemingly herculean challenge of circumnavigating the globe by running, cycling, swimming and rowing (or whatever activity suits). I signed up to the challenge principally in support of the cause – fundraising for The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Stephen’s story is both challenging and inspirational. Tragically, his dream of becoming an architect was never realised. On 22 April 1993, at the age of just 18, Stephen was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack. He didn’t know his killers and his killers didn’t know him.

The challenge has re-instated the rhythm that has been missing from my working week and I have been successfully ticking off my target of 15 miles per week. This has not only resulted in real improvements in my fitness and a stronger back, but I’ve also developed a much more positive outlook, although there’s still work I can do to create a greater separation between my work and home life. The takeaway for me is that in the new ‘work from home’ world we’re grappling with, there has never been a greater need for us to make sure we create space to look after ourselves and that even virtual team events can make huge changes to the way we achieve this.

I am delighted that my 60 ran miles has added to our combined target of 24,901 miles. And better still, our fundraising total for The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust currently stands at a superb £3,571.26 (inc Gift Aid).

Thank goodness I signed up to be part of the real estate team’s challenge bringing us together (albeit virtually), get my own fitness back on track, and to celebrate Black History Month and continue our learning journey about Black history and culture in Britain today.

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Key contact

Ed Britton

Ed Britton

Assistant Director

Ed specialises in leading the planning stages of multi phase major projects and advises a range of public and private sector clients and can manage large teams of technical consultants to deliver project objectives within clearly defined timescales. Ed is based in Manchester, but has also worked extensively across Greater London and South East, Leeds and Sheffield. Highlights of recent experience: Regeneration Frameworks - Ed has been and continues to be involved in the production of evidence led Regeneration Frameworks, which establish key development principles and masterplan objectives for large regeneration projects, often requiring extensive coordination and mediation between multiple landowners and stakeholders. Ed has recently delivered two such frameworks, including Old Saint Mary’s Parsonage. Sheffield Central Area Strategy – Ed led on the production of the Sheffield Central Area Strategy, which will ultimately form part of the emerging Local Plan. The commission brief is to produce an evidence-led regeneration framework for the Central Area, which facilitates the acceleration of housing delivery, whilst also making recommendations for public sector intervention and strategic decisions relating to other uses. The project required extensive stakeholder consultation, with external organisations, politicians and Council Officers. Didsbury Technology Park; Manchester – Provides planning, EIA and consultation strategy advice for this major multi-phase mixed use development proposal. The masterplan strategy requires the testing of masterplan parameters, within which detailed planning applications could be brought forward. The approach has afforded the client accelerated delivery of the first Phases and flexibility for future phases without the need to secure Outline permission. The planning strategy effectively met the differing requirements of multiple landowners and stakeholders, and also oversaw the effective consultation strategy required to ensure all the complexities of the masterplan strategy were clearly communicated to all consultees. Vauxhall Square; London Borough of Lambeth - Ed helped to secure planning permission for this major mixed use development at the heart of the regeneration of Nine Elms, including two 50 storey residential towers, commercial space, hotels, public realm and a sheltered accommodation hostel. Considering the strategically important location and public interest, extensive stakeholder engagement was required throughout the project, as well as a rigorously tested Environmental impact Assessment.