The Standards: Charity Champion award winner Neil Hickford takes first place on the podium

Meet Neil Hickford, the winner of our charity award initiative, which encourages colleagues to take part in an exercise challenge to raise money by getting active.

Last year, Neil’s participation in this challenge helped us to make a significant impact in raising money for an important charity.

His modesty, drive and generosity are an example to us all. We caught up with him to learn more.

Which charity did you raise money for?
My miles contributed to raising money for the Lily Mae Foundation, it’s an extremely meaningful cause and one that we all hold close to our hearts.

What was your contribution to the charity?
I completed 4,720 miles, raising £472. Collectively as a business we raised £2,774, completing 17,526 miles in total for the Lily Mae Foundation. It absolutely give me that feel-good feeling and reinforces our core values at Altavia HRG.

Obviously you’re a keen cyclist, how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been cycling for about 10 years now.

What motivates you to cycle?
Mainly to maintain my fitness. Due to a knee injury I had to stop running so since then I had to find another form of exercise that worked for me. I’ve always been an active person, so the worst thing was waiting for the injury to heal before I could go out again. I really tried to not lose motivation because I knew the sooner I could get active, the sooner my knee would heal.
I know for a lot of people having the motivation or finding the time to exercise is hard, but just adding daily movement that you enjoy is a step in the right direction, it’s how I approached it.

Cycling is a very social sport and a great way to meet new people and keep fit. I belong to a cycling club so every Saturday morning we go for a group ride. It’s a real motivational push when we ride together, it’s great fun. We always stop for coffee, cake and a chat after. It’s also a hobby that has minimal environmental impact and a great way to refresh my mind and get rid of any stress.

Where is your favourite place to ride?
I don’t necessarily have a favourite place, I don’t mind where I ride. It does however allow me to venture to places that I wouldn’t otherwise go to. You see some of the most beautiful views, you’re going slow enough to see everything but fast enough to cover a large area, seeing scenery changes during the seasons too. You get to see far more than you would on foot.

Is cycling an expensive hobby?
It can be an expensive hobby once you really get into it but there are plenty of cheap options especially if you’re just starting out. The first thing I did was to take a visit to my local bike shop where they advised me on the kit I needed.
You can also find some absolute steals on second-hand sites online. That being said, you want to ensure you get one that’s durable and safe. 

Aside from your bike, what are your must-have essentials?
I always carry a spare inner tube, small pump, tyre levers and bike specific tools in case I get into trouble. A good set of lights are also essential if you plan to ride in dull or dark conditions.

What advice would you give someone wanting to take part by cycling for the Miles Scheme?
Start slowly, don’t be over ambitious with the distance you want to cover. And importantly – enjoy it!

Tell us about your role at Altavia HRG
I’m a Senior Creative Artworker at Altavia HRG with over 30 years’ experience in the industry, so I’ve seen how digital technology has fundamentally reshaped the design process to make it easier and allows for greater creativity. It also means I have worked on most types of graphic production systems throughout my career. I’ve seen it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. 
Having solid art working experience, I’ve worked on various design projects. I predominantly work on the print artwork side of the business although I’m also involved in the digital side of design including preparing assets for digital artwork and creating interactive PDFs and presentation files.

What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job would be seeing the final project I’ve been working on go out to print, but even more so, seeing it in the likes of my local Sainsburys when I’m out with my family. It’s rewarding and makes me feel extremely proud.

Who inspires you
My kids. Their world is all new and exciting with so many prospects ahead.

How do you live the company’s values?
Working together and giving back is a core part of our company culture, we like to do what we can to make a difference within the workplace. One of the ways we do this is through our charity initiative, the ‘Miles’ scheme which is an active challenge, and something I knew I wanted to get involved in to help raise money for charity.

Giving as a company
Neil’s fantastic mileage contribution played a key role in our overall fundraising efforts for the Lily Mae Foundation. To put his completed miles into perspective, that’s the journey from London to Jamaica.

Our charity initiative The ‘Miles’ scheme encourages our colleagues to engage in exercise in order to fundraise for local and national charities. Each year, within the team we propose which charities to fundraise for. For every mile walked, ran, swam or biked, Altavia HRG donates a sum of money towards the chosen charity. We simply have to log our miles using a tracking app and submit them monthly. Each mile completed goes a long way in helping us make an impact to a meaningful cause. 

Being able to partake in an activity that is not only significant in terms of the difference you’re making but also impactful on your wellbeing, is so beneficial, it allows for ‘me time’. An opportunity to go at your own pace and try something new or continue doing what you love. For me that’s hopping on my bicycle and pedalling off for a couple of hours. It allows me to keep active both physically and mentally. As the famous saying goes “A healthy body, a healthy mind” right? 

There is a huge sense of accomplishment in raising money for charity and in taking care of your wellbeing which does wonders in increasing productivity. 

2021 was a fantastic year for us, we were able to donate for important causes.

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