AN EDINBURGH-based entrepreneur has joined Virgin owner Richard Branson on an epic charity cycle through Europe to raise over £1 million for a leading youth charity.
Jill Henry, who founded cycle clothing brand Meander in the Capital, was part of a 50-strong team of business leaders getting in the saddle for the endurance adventure taking them to the summit of Europe’s highest mountain.
The Virgin Strive Challenge 2018 took the cohort of riders, which also included Branson’s son Sam, from the start point in Sicily to the top of Mont Blanc.
Jill joined the team for the cycling portion through Sardinia, completing over 100 km a day, before sea-kayaking across the Alghero Gulf.
The challenge aimed to raise money for the Big Change Charitable Trust, which funds youth projects in locations across the UK.
Jill admitted it was one of the toughest challenges she had taken on, adding that Meander would be helping to boost the total amount raised by the challenge, donating profits on any pre-orders purchased through their crowdfunding platform to the charity.
She said: “The stage I was involved in consisted of four days cycling through Sardinia, completing over 100 kilometres per day, with 2000-metre climbs, followed by two days’ sea kayaking around the Alghero Gulf.”
Jill added: “On my part, it was certainly one of the toughest challenges that I’ve taken part in but it also inspired me to do more.”
The final stage of the Big Strive featured participants scaling the heights on a two-day, 3500-metre ascent up Mont Blanc, before a celebration at the summit of the mountain.
“At Meander Apparel we are passionate about sustainability and giving back, that’s why we’ve decided to donate profits on any further pre-orders taken on Indiegogo to the charity.”
During the challenge, an auction was held by the participants with all proceeds raised going directly to Big Change.
It is the sixth year in a row the Strive Challenge has been held, following the first event of its kind in 2012.
Big Change was co-founded by Sam and Holly Branson and is a social impact accelerator that backs early-stage ideas to help young people to thrive in life. Meander launched earlier this year on Indiegogo with the Meander Jacket, which raised close to £16,000 in pre-orders from customers in nine countries around the globe.
Jill and Meander Apparel are based in the Business Incubator at Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University.
Jill revealed the firm is currently developing a range of goods from materials made from recycled plastics and plan to offset their carbon emissions by planting trees in Scottish woodland.