Three years ago, Alex Paske launched Mintridge Events with the aim to increase sports participation in school age children, support young athletes and use sport as a tool to inspire and empower. Fast-forward to today and Alex has a team of talented athlete ambassadors on board (including Commonwealth Games netball gold medallist, Ebony Beckford-Chambers), is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and has won the Women of the Future Award in the sports category. Phew!
Here, the sport-loving 27-year-old shares a little insight into her working day.
I started Mintridge Events in April 2015 with the objective to increase sports participation, support up-and-coming talent, and to help increase awareness of mental and physical wellbeing in children. We have lots of different programmes but we largely work with schools via our team of 27 ambassadors – elite athletes who are either professionals or ex-professionals in their sport.
On a typical programme one of our ambassadors will deliver a school assembly – more and more we’re asked to talk about overcoming challenges and resilience, and what our ambassadors have done in their sporting journey to do that.
In some cases it might be that we’re working with a school netball team for their pre-season programme, supporting the up-and-coming athletes. But in other instances, particularly with primary schools, it’s very much looking at helping and increasing confidence and behaviour; nurturing their life skills and using sport as a tool for that.
What sets Mintridge apart is our mentoring schemes. During the programme, our ambassador selects two students to mentor for six months afterwards. This is delivered by Skype and an app we use called Playwaze, with usually around an hour a fortnight where the students can talk to the ambassador about whatever they would like. So if it’s sports-specific, it could be helping them with their technique and various skills, nutrition and other elements. Or it might just be having a positive role model outside their school environment to help and talk to them.
At the end of the six months they get to go and see their ambassador compete in a competition, along with their parents and staff. So it’s much more than a school visit – it adds that legacy.
Morning: Event day or office admin
No day is the same, because it’s just me at the moment – I have lots of different roles! A typical morning in the office is sending out proposals to schools who’ve been in touch with enquiries.
On an event day, we’ll head to the school, meet the ambassador, and I’ll do all the coordination behind that, including presentations, finding out exactly what the school would like and how many students are involved, so that the ambassador doesn’t need to worry about any admin. Then on the day itself, I’m there supporting and taking photos and videos.
After we’ve run an event at a school, we create photobooks and videos for them. I do all the post-event admin – blogs, photo albums, videos that go on to YouTube (we have our own channel, Mintridge Events).
As I do everything, it’s hard to describe a typical day! It’s so much work, but I love it!
Lunchtime – Sales, advertising and admin
I take the dog for a walk at lunch. When I’m back in the office I’m looking at sales, constantly advertising in various forms, whether that’s direct mail or social media.
I’ve been running Mintridge as a limited company but I’m transitioning into a foundation so that I can access more funding and do more fundraising to reduce the cost for schools. The age-group we have the biggest impact on is 14/15 year olds, particularly with one-on-one mentoring. I want to be accessible to every secondary school in the UK in five years’ time – but it’s the secondary schools that lack the funding.
We’ve just secured charitable status so in the next few weeks we will become the Mintridge Foundation, which is very exciting. Currently my office-based work is very much centred around getting this off the ground. I’m looking more at getting corporates on-board who would look to support the programme. So that’s going to be a big push.
Afternoon: Setting-up mentoring sessions
I coordinate all the mentor programmes, setting up all the Skype sessions between schools and the athletes. We’ve carefully selected our ambassadors and all of them want to give back to the younger generation. They’re not necessarily household names, but they are (or have been) high up in their sport, are fantastic communicators and are passionate about what we do and what we deliver.
One of our mentees has been selected to represent England in her sport and she’s put it down to her mentoring, which is absolutely fantastic. Although women’s sport is growing, there’s not that much of it on TV, so having a female ambassador in front of you makes it far more achievable and reachable.
Evening: Relax and prepare for tomorrow!
I work 8.30am until 6pm if I’m in the office, but it changes daily if I’m out and about in meetings with schools or on an event day, so I have to be quite flexible.
Outside of work, I’ve been recovering from an ankle injury, but I’m back in the gym and I do some pilates and some cycling. Last year I cycled from Stamford to Amsterdam, and in a few weeks I’m planning a 5-day cycle to celebrate the launch of the Mintridge Foundation. I’ll be starting at my primary school, cycling about 80-miles a day and stopping at hockey clubs and schools that have been part of my journey to where I am now.
I hadn’t realised it until recently, but setting up Mintridge was very much a personal journey for me. I played a lot of sport growing up, with the focus on hockey. My dream was always to play for England; I got to the England U16 trials, but didn’t get through. I fell out of love with hockey, and suffered mentally afterwards. My family were incredibly supportive, but they didn’t know the ins-and-outs of the hockey world, so they didn’t know how to cope or deal with it. If I’d had somebody there who had ‘been there and done that’, I would still be playing the sport I enjoyed so much today.
This is where the idea for having a support network for up-and-coming talent came from – Mintridge was very talent-driven when I first started it. The amount of ambassadors we have that didn’t get selected when they were 17 and are now the best in the world is crazy, so that was a huge push at the beginning. But schools have taken it off into so many different directions, and they’re using it for different things and not just talent support. It goes to show how powerful sport is.
To find out more about Mintridge Events you can visit www.mintridge-events.co.uk, or follow Mintridge on social media via www.twitter.com/mintridgeevents, www.facebook.com/MintridgeEvents or www.instagram.com/mintridge.events.