Ben changes tack to an outdoors activities career

RUNNING outdoor experiences for children has turned out to be a much more satisfying job for a Woking man who gave up a high-flying career in finance.

FLOATING AROUND – Having fun on the water is all part of the activities

Ben Webb spent 20 years working for some of the top international companies, rising to become a chartered tax adviser, before starting Surrey Hills and Rivers this year.

Ben, a father of three who has lived in the local area for more than nine years, had long dreamed of running an outdoor experiences company and spent a few years planning to make his move.

FULFILLED – Ben Webb is enjoying running his outdoor experiences company

This included working with Surrey County Council as an outdoors activities adviser for a couple of years and undergoing specialised training.

Ben said that when he was working in finance, he had “wanted to do something more valuable with my working life, something more enjoyable for me personally, and wanted my children to still be of an age to share that journey with me”.

He runs most of the activities, including camping, cycling, hiking, treasure hunting and orienteering, from a vast estate in Haslemere owned by a former teacher who farms the land.

“She really embraced what I was trying to do so I run the residential camp off her farm. I’ve got a fantastic partner in her,” Ben said.

He runs 10 different types of activities as day and residential camps through the school term and holidays and uses the Basingstoke Canal and Wey River and Navigation for paddlesports such as kayaking and paddle boarding.

Ben leads some of the activities himself and employs 12 people to help him.

“What was exciting for me is that I employed quite a few young people, including some junior paddlers at the Wey Kayak Club. They know the river extremely well and know the equipment,” he said.

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“The objective is to hand back to parents happy and positive children who’ve been outside in the countryside, physically active, away from technology, mucking in and considering others, and full of the sort of memories that will make them a devotee of the countryside for the future.”

Ben has had a successful first summer and is hopeful about the future.

“I worked with my first school, West Byfleet Junior School, doing five days of canoeing with them and a very successful three-week residential camp.

“I’m getting great feedback from the kids and the parents, and I know it’s a valuable thing that I do. The outlook looks great. It’s been a rough ride but I’m in a really good place now.”

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