CSR Days: How TSG's Tom Packham supported the Ian Pratt MND Foundation

At TSG we’re serious about supporting charity initiatives and trying to make the world a better place, however we can. That’s why we give all staff members 2 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) days a year to use for volunteering, however they wish.

We spoke to Tom Packham, one of TSG’s Technical Proactive Consultants, to ask how he chose to spend his CSR days.

What did you choose to do for your CSR day and which organisation did you choose to support?

I chose to support swimmers crossing the Solent (Mainland England to the Isle of Wight) by joining a team providing kayak support. The swim was started in 2013 but later became the ‘Ian Pratt MND Challenge’. The Ian Pratt MND Foundation was set up by Ian Pratt in 2016 to support people living with motor neurone disease (MND).

Why did you decide to support this organisation?

Luckily, I have not been directly affected by MND but wanted to do something that gave something back. My girlfriend’s mother was a friend of Ian Pratt and told me about the Challenge and that they needed volunteers to help support the event.

What was the most rewarding part of your days spent volunteering?

Obviously being part of something that helps people is massively rewarding. MND is a horrific disease. The emotion over the few days is very high as many of the people taking part have loved ones that are suffering with MND or have died from it. This year was particularly hard as it was the first event since Ian Pratt’s passing. The people I do this with have become a proper family.

Give us a brief overview of what you did on each day

We would meet up at around 7AM to get all the gear ready for the day. There are normally about 12 kayaks that would need setting up and getting down to the beach (Over a 10-foot sea wall!)

The kayak team would then go through safety checks and test radios etc. We would then meet the swimmers, each of us being assigned one swimmer to support across the Solent. We would have to start the crossing at a specific time due to the harsh currents, if the swim was delayed, we would not make it across and most likely end up 5 miles down the coast! One crossing would take between 2-3 hours (The longest has been 5!)

Once the swimmers were all safely across, we would have lunch and then get ready to take another 12 swimmers back over. This event only had 4 crossings over 2 days but in previous years we have done 6 crossing over 3 days.

You can watch a video of Tom’s experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGPKorr8rvE