Hugh was born with a cleft condition, and openly shares his experiences and motivation to help others in a recent podcast with fellow corporate partner and cleft ambassador Paul Toms from EMEA recruitment.

You can watch the interview in this video, or listen online. You can also find a transcript of the podcast below.

Paul Toms (PT): We’ve got some really good questions to go through today and so I thought I’d crack on with the first one to ease you into the show. Obviously, we mentioned a bit about Operation Smile and we’re going to be talking quite a bit about that throughout the conversation, but maybe as a starting point I thought I’d ask you what was the last thing that made you smile?

Hugh Tamlyn (HT): I suppose I try and smile on a daily basis as best I can – pretty difficult in our jobs [recruitment], but I try to find at least a few good reasons every day. My dog, Cooper, I’ve probably got to mention, he’s something that brings a smile.

But I suppose the last time I had a genuine beam across my face would be when we were in India, where we were lucky enough to see some tigers in the wild on a safari. That was a big moment for me and something I really enjoyed in the last few weeks.

PT: Wow, that is cool. Both are related to animals, as well, so you’ve got the dog and the tiger.

HT: Yeah, and being back home, I suppose, spending a lot more time throughout the summer back in Wales, so I’m getting to spend a lot more time with friends and family, which has been more difficult, as I’ve been moving around the world for the last ten years. It’s nice to be back and spend a bit more time with them, as well.

PT: That’s cool. And then Cooper is an interesting name; I’ve got to ask where does the name
come from for the dog?

HT: It’s probably not too flattering, but he’s shaped slightly like a barrel, and I suppose he’s a little Frenchie, so Cooper felt appropriate for his size and shape. He probably won’t thank me for that, I imagine.

PT: It’s all good and, as you say, these things do make you smile – dogs, animals and pets – they can be guaranteed to make you smile or send you in the opposite direction some days, but it keeps life entertaining.

So, as I mentioned, you know that we’re going to be talking quite a bit about Operation Smile in this podcast. You do a lot of work with Operation Smile, as we do here at EMEA Recruitment, so I thought I’d ask you about how your partnership with Operation Smile started and if you could tell us a bit more?

HT: Of course. So, I was born with cleft lip and palate 35 years ago – more than that now – and I was aware of a few charities that specialised in this space, and I suppose as I got older and more cognizant of the work that those people did, I felt that I should contribute in some way.

It simply started with me doing a charity bike ride, about four or five years ago, and I felt like I could give something back, so I just reached out to Operation Smile as a fundraiser generally at that point to do a little bit of work with them and raise a bit of money over a short bike ride I did around the Brecon Beacons.

Then, I made the decision that I could be doing more with them, and then that morphed over the next few years, doing bigger rides and going further afield.

Gradually, as I set up my own business, we talked about a corporate partnership, so now I’m part of their corporate partnership organisation and I try to do something once a year with them. Until now, I’ve been cycling-focused.

I think this year’s going to be a bumper year. As I said, we try and raise a little bit of money and I think we’ll continue probably beyond 2023, but it’s difficult to keep going back to the same network of people to try and raise funds every year. So, we’ve gradually got bigger in terms of the things that I’m trying to do and I think it’s going to reach a climax this year, and then see what 2024 brings.

PT: What’s interesting is you mentioned the thought of giving something back and that came around as you got older, which I think happens with a number of people, as well. Was there something or a moment that you felt, okay, this feels right to do this now or you’ve got the time to do it? Because I think it’s a bit like a conversation I have with some people about changing a career to do maybe sustainability, so something that’s more of a vocation than anything else.

I think everyone would love to spend more time giving and working with the charity and everyone would like to spend time doing a job that really means something to them, but the majority of people don’t.

So, was there a turning point for you where you thought, I’m now going to put time into

HT: Yeah, for me, I suppose having the condition myself, for a number of years it was almost something I didn’t talk about. Then, there was a moment somewhere in my late 20s where I was a lot more accepting of the fact that this is the condition that I had.

Along with that came the sense that maybe I could do more to help people in the same scenario or situation. That was probably a watershed moment in terms of almost taking ownership of the fact that I was born with a condition, and I could do something to try and help other people with that.

It probably couples a little bit with stuff in my own company, which did free me up immensely to have a lot more time on my hands to dedicate to something like this and, certainly, this year with the events that we’ve got going on has almost felt like a second job on top of the day job.

If I was in a traditional nine-to-five life with my former business, when you lump the commuting hours on top each day, you’re getting back in London at seven/eight o’clock at night, it’s difficult to do the training for these things.

I’ve always been interested in the grand adventures of things and coupling that with Operation Smile made sense. So, yeah, that was the rationale behind it, but certainly, it was almost a combination of things, the time, the responsibility, and the conversation I had with my partner, Emily, about social responsibilities and things like that.

I think a lot more people could do a lot more and a lot of people do a lot of good work, so it’s something that I’m passionate about and it makes it so much easier to give back and do that work, because I can reflect on my experiences about it and I know how difficult it can be when you’re young and things like that. So, if I can help in that regard is probably a positive thing.

PT: No, it’s really inspirational. I think anybody who listens to the podcast regularly or who knows me personally knows that I was also born with cleft lip and palette, as well, and I think you know one of the things, which you mentioned yourself, is the toughest part for most people whether it’s cleft lip or whether it’s any other, let’s say, “defects” that they’re born with is actually accepting it and talking about it. It’s easy to say that this helps you, but it’s very hard to get into that mindset.

Was there a point where you felt confident or happy to start talking about this now, rather than letting it be something that defines you?

HT: Yeah, I think so. There isn’t sort of one moment I can point to, but it’s a visible difference, so it was almost like the elephant in the room for me at some point. I was like, well, everybody I speak to, the friends I’ve had all my life and my family, all know that I have this, and I was born with this condition, I know that I’ve got this condition, so you know why there’s no point trying to shy away from that.

So, I opened up a little bit about it and, as you say, talking about it helped massively, and I think it almost addresses that people maybe are sensitive to the fact that you and I were born with this condition, and I think us being able to talk about it freely frees them up to also talk about it and share your experiences – that helped massively.

As you say, talking about it more and doing these charity fundraisers and publicising that through different social media channels and things like that certainly got me to a point where I’m more completely comfortable with it – there’s nothing I can do to change it, it is what it is.

That kind of spurred me on to want to try and bring that change or that effect around to people perhaps a little bit earlier in their lives, because I think I was probably in my mid-to-late 20s before I got comfortable or started talking about it, and thinking about it more deeply. So, yeah, I guess if I can be a mentor in any way to somebody with the same conditions – they’re pretty common, as we know.

Although, for me growing up, I didn’t really ever meet many people with the condition when I think back to my childhood – it felt a lot more isolating, I guess. But, yeah, I suppose it was the desire to give something back and provide that pathway for other people perhaps who struggle with it and parents, as well. I know quite a few parents over the last few years have approached me about their children being born with the condition and have questions around that.

I don’t think that support structure was perhaps in place 30 to 40 years ago. When I was born, my father had never even heard of the condition and you know the kind of panic that sets in when you know when your child is born with that, so being able to have conversations with those parents, as well, and provide some comfort that it doesn’t massively affect your life, especially here in the UK or in Europe or the West.

It’s a different story in the third world and that’s partly what prompted me to do the work, because I know Operation Smile is focused in developing countries where it’s perhaps not so readily available and the support is not there.

PT: I think everything you mentioned there is something, again, has been in my journey, as well, and I think some of what you mentioned in terms of how people view it, when you start talking about something like this, it makes it less acceptable for people to make comments about it. If you’re trying to hide from it and someone makes a comment, then people almost might laugh, but it’s almost a nervous laugh, because people don’t know how to deal with that situation. Whereas, if you’re open to talk about it and then someone does say something negative, it makes them look even worse than they would do if they weren’t talking about it, but it’s less acceptable then for them to laugh about it, as well.

I think it’s one of those things that, ultimately, it’s not to say this is just cleft lip and palate, I think, generally, any people who aren’t born and have everything perfect, any imperfections in people always get seen, especially when they’re visible ones like cleft lip and palate.

I think the world we’re living in now is a lot more accepting of these things, but it’s even more accepting if you are talking about it and you’re open with it and saying, yeah, this is what I was born with and it doesn’t change who I am, and that it makes people less nervous to talk about it, as well. So, everything you said makes perfect sense.

HT: Definitely, for me, I don’t know about you, kids will always be kids. I think it was probably on the school yard where there were the odd comments over the years – as you said, anybody with a visible difference in any capacity are subject to comments like that.

Certainly, in my grown-up life, it’s not featured at all, and people have been very kind and treated me like anybody else. But I think getting some support for those younger children going through that, through the adolescent stage, could be helpful.

Also, reading the posts and publishing that Operation Smile puts out about some of the stories that they come across or encounter in the developing world, and seeing some of these kids perhaps who get socially isolated because of their condition, that kind of resonated with me a lot in terms of that could have been me and how lucky I was to actually be born in the UK where that treatment was immediately available.

Some of these kids are waiting ten to 15 years, in some cases, and I know sometimes people go their entire lives without the treatment and I can only imagine how debilitating that entity must be – so, anything we can do to help and solve that is a good thing.

PT: Yeah, 100%. Following on from that, you mentioned a bit about the fundraising efforts that you’re doing, so maybe it’s a good platform to talk about that. I know you’ve got a lot coming up, so do you want to just go into a bit of detail of what you’ve got on the horizon?

HT: So, essentially, the good folk at Operation Smile call me up every year and ask me what I’m doing, and obviously I’m glad to help.

Every year it’s kind of snowballed a little bit, so I thought I’d go big this year and we’re aiming to raise £15,000. We’ve got a series of events going on through the summer, mostly cycling- focused.

£15,000 is the target that we put in place to fund 100 surgeries over whatever period, so it’s going to be tricky to raise that much money, especially in the current environment.

This year, we’ve done the Ford Ride London, so I’ve got some friends involved with that. I’ve got an indoor bike ride at the David Lloyd gym in Hampton, in southwest London, coming up in the next two or three weeks – regretting that one slightly, to be honest. I’ve done a couple of training sessions in there and it’s warm and the bike doesn’t move, so I think I’ve got ahead of myself on that one – that’s possibly going to be the trickier of the events that we’ve got planned.

Then, in August, we’ve got an Everest challenge, which is essentially 8,877 metres of uphill cycling down here in the Brecon Beacons – so we’ve got a full day going up and down a mountain; we’re going to summit roughly 32/33 times.

That is then culminating in a 15-day perimeter ride of Ireland solo, so I’m going out there and we’re looking to do about 100 miles a day for two weeks with the objective of finishing hopefully on World Smile Day at the Operation Smile office in Dublin on 6th October – so,
plenty of time in the saddle throughout the summer. A lot of training is starting to get ramped up a little bit now and then hopefully we can get close to that target by Christmas.

But we’ve been quite lucky, we’ve got a few corporate partners in, we’ve been donated a camper van for the Irish Ride by a local business here, so I’ve got my parents coming as support – the only people who could dedicate two weeks without having to get out of work to watch me struggle around Ireland.

We’ve also got the kit sponsored and we’re going to be raffling off some signed jerseys by Mark Cavendish and Mathieu van der Poel, who are tour leading riders, that they’ve donated, so we’ll be putting a raffle out there at some point to try and get to this target.

PT: Wow, that’s really impressive! There’s a big target to reach, but I think when you have these targets you’ve got to do something pretty big to raise that amount of money. You’re definitely doing that right. Are you a regular cyclist anyway or is this really pushing you into something new?

HT: I cycled as a kid, probably between about 12 up until 16, so I raced a lot then when I was younger, and then I guess 17 to 18, beer and women took over and that kind of lifestyle, so that was a slight distraction! Cycling with a hangover never went well on a Sunday morning for me – I wouldn’t even consider it now.

I put the bike down for a number of years and concentrated on football and rugby, and that took over and I got involved in that.

It wasn’t until I moved to Amsterdam about four or five years ago where there obviously is a huge cycling culture generally and I suppose it was a way of integrating myself out there and making some friends on the ground in the Netherlands.

I joined a local cycling club out there and just got out on the bike and enjoyed it again and that’s continued. I signed up for a few of the big one-day events, which were the initial fundraising efforts with Operation Smile. I can’t lie, I’m still very much a fair-weather cyclist; you won’t see me on a bike between October normally and April, but once the spring comes and the sun’s out, I really enjoy getting out there on the road.

PT: I think the big difference you’re going to find now is obviously Amsterdam or the Netherlands is very flat, whereas Everest, your calves are obviously going to feel it.

HT: Yeah, we’ve been selective in the hill that we’ve chosen down here, as well – it’s as gentle a one as we could find. It’s about four or five kilometres long and maybe about 400 or 500 metres high. It’s just going to be a bit repetitive going up and down. It’s going to be a very tough day, but hopefully rewarding at the end of it.

PT: As you mentioned, it’s really to put yourself out there and start doing this for Operation Smile, you had to have the drive and desire to do it, to then go on this bike ride and the other things you’re doing, so it’s got to be more than the fact of raising money; you’ve got to really want to do it for the bigger thing, which is ultimately helping you raise money for the operations and for the smiles. That’s going to be a great feeling for you to see the money coming in and knowing that every £150 is going to create a new smile for someone, which is massively rewarding on that side.

I guess the challenge you’re going to have next year, as you say, Operation Smile rings you on a yearly basis, so it might be an unfair question to ask you, but what are you doing next time, what do you think is on the bucket list of challenges for you?

HT: I need to check with the other half, because I’m spending a lot of time out of the house!

PT: Rope her in and get her involved.

HT: Partially, I have. She’s been very good actually – she works for PayPal, and they’ve matched some of the donations that we’ve got in the past, so hopefully they’re going to continue to do that this year, so very lucky with Emily, as well.

In the back of my mind, I’ve always enjoyed mountaineering. I don’t want to say the seven summits, but I’d like to maybe start ticking off a few of those over the next few years, so I may flick from cycling to mountaineering.

I’m not going to be climbing ice fields or anything like that – don’t get me wrong – it’s going to be sort of high-altitude trekking if nothing else, but yeah Kilimanjaro has been on the list for a while, and I had booked to climb the Elbrus in Russia when COVID hit, which obviously got cancelled.

I can’t see myself getting out there anytime soon, but yeah probably Kilimanjaro would be the next big thing on the list and then slowly see if we can tick one off at a time. I don’t think Everest will ever be in the cards for me, but maybe a few of the gentler climbs are maybe a more sensible challenge potentially.

How about you, got anything lined up?

PT: Yeah well, our challenges are slightly less on the activity side, but we’ve done a few already this year. My colleague, Neil, ran the London Marathon and he raised a decent amount of money.

I’m actually writing a children’s picture book for Operation Smile and the whole basis of it is about a sloth who likes smiling and then his smile gets interrupted, and then is learning how to smile and how, when you’re with other people, they help bring the smile up – actually, I’m 80% of the way there.

I’ve got the next three days put aside to finish it. I’m working with a coach, who’s really putting pressure on.

I chose a children’s picture book, because I thought it was going to be an easier route to actually writing the book, but the reality is it’s actually very hard, because you have a very limited number of words per page and each word counts in these things, but I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m really happy with what the book looks like in my head, so I’ve just got to get that finished off now.

The book will be out there by the end of the year when it’s all written and published, but I’ll finish writing it this week and that’s all I’m going to say. So, if the guys from Operation Smile are listening to this, they’ll be calling me about the book, but it’s all good!

HT: Have you done anything like that before?

PT: No never. It was just something that is using a creative mind. My son’s 10 now, but it’s not that long ago that we were sitting reading the children’s books, so there’s still a bit that I’m clinging onto.

Maybe it’s a bit of the parent who’s now seeing their child growing up and wanting to claw back some of those really early days, but it should be good and interesting to see how it goes.

We are planning a few things here – we’ve not nailed anything down yet, but we’re definitely going to be doing a few more things at EMEA and keep the good stuff going with Operation Smile.

I actually want to get out on one of their missions and see all the work being done, because that looks like it would be a great thing to see, but also a good experience to be there and see how it all works.

Probably one of the things we also share in common is the fact that we’re both the owners and directors of international recruitment companies and, personally, I found actually that direction in my career was related a lot to what I went through in life – the good and the bad days relating to the cleft lip side of things. I thought I’d ask you a bit about your journey, because you are the director and owner of Beacon Search, and you’ve had other fantastic careers. Do you see any link between what you went through and your career?

HT: Yeah, I was very lucky when I finished university or finished school. I went into sports coaching and development initially; I have always enjoyed helping people and working with people – that’s how I see my recruitment role, as well. Due to a couple of unfortunate injuries, the football plan didn’t really work out.

I had to pivot around the age of 24-25 into a second career and I didn’t really see that panning out in South Wales, as there are fewer options available to graduates or young people here, so I took a bit of a jump and moved to London without anything lined up.

I popped my CV onto a job portal somewhere and just got bombarded by recruitment consultants; I know the sports angle is always translated quite well into recruitment, the way that you communicate and the teamwork ethic, driving commitment and motivation, etc.
So, I was bombarded for a while and ultimately ended up meeting with a small business called BSM that was starting up. There were three very senior experienced guys in that business, and I do feel like I got lucky. There was no formal training; it was very much learning on the desk, but I was surrounded by very good people, so took a lot from that.

Then, the business grew, and I was sort of dragged along with it to a degree and got a little bit more senior and got some different experiences, and that ultimately led to me being invited to go across to New York with them to set up that business, which I did for maybe a year-and- a-half.

It was a great experience again, because I knew the ropes of recruitment at that point, but this was a different challenge in we were starting from scratch, we had new clients, we had no candidates; it was really boots on the ground and figuring it out. We’d obviously made plans and arrangements before we got there, but it was a complete start-up. I really enjoyed that experience and New York.

However, given that I love the outdoors, it really didn’t suit my life outside of work that much, and so then an opportunity came back to set up the European office for them. So, again, I got shifted to Amsterdam in 2017 and took full responsibility for that build out – with the support of business owners, of course. But the lifestyle and everything in the work in Amsterdam was again a replica of New York; we didn’t have many candidates, we didn’t have many clients, and we kind of just went all guns blazing, just post-Brexit, when a lot of banks were setting up in various locations.

I loved that experience and, after doing that for a few years up until COVID, there was a slight reorganisation and I thought it was a good chance, since I was so tenured with start-ups at that point, it felt right to do it myself.

I think how my cleft condition maybe links into that, I suppose as a kid there was always an element of trying to prove that I wasn’t different. I would always try really hard, I was always very sporty as a youngster playing rugby, football, cricket, tennis and anything that was going, up until about 16. I guess that kind of competitiveness maybe came in.

I wouldn’t say I was hugely competitive, but there was always an edge for me, and I was always self-motivated, and I think that probably translated into the recruitment world quite a bit – not having the fear to try new things and put myself out there.

You know it’s a big step and there are definitely sleepless nights when you start your own business; it really is a roller coaster journey and I’ve enjoyed it – and I’m still enjoying it. I think we’re probably a fair bit behind you guys [EMEA Recruitment], but we’re looking to expand a little bit over the next couple of years and see how that goes.

Every day brings its own challenges. Being able to deal with them head on and not shy away from them is probably a testament to some of the stuff we talked about earlier in the podcast and just addressing things and dealing with them, rather than making them an elephant in the room.

PT: It’s interesting, because obviously you’ve taken the opportunities when they come around, you say you travelled around, worked in various different places and set up your own business. A lot of people will have these opportunities but maybe procrastinate on them, don’t take them and choose a safer option; it can work out equally for them, as well.

But you tend to find that, if I look at all the guests we’ve had on the podcast, successful people – regardless of what discipline they’re in – the one thing they have in common is that they’ve taken advantage of the opportunities as they come along and not over-thought too much and thought, well there is a risk element, but let’s try this, if it doesn’t work out I can always go back and do what I was doing before. It feels a bit like with yourself that’s a bit about how you’ve approached the opportunities when they come around really.

HT: Yeah, definitely. I think when I left Wales that was the biggest decision almost of the three or four that I made in terms of being here 24-25 years; I never knew anything different really, so moving to a big city like London was a big step.

I was there for three or four years, in London, and just how quickly you adapt and you figure stuff out, and – if you back yourself in that regard – I think everything after that point was just a logical extension from that.

I was very lucky that going from South Wales to London worked out well for me and I thought I’d keep the show rolling and went to New York. The job has definitely given me some life experiences that I wouldn’t have got otherwise and I’m definitely thankful for those.

By the time the Amsterdam opportunity came around, it felt like a no-brainer, and it was a bit of a whirlwind really. You’re constantly sort of dropped into new cultures and new environments and you figure stuff out.

I think all of that definitely led me to be in a position to set up my own company, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’m still phased by some things, but I almost get into a process now where you’re not as blown away by big problems, you just break it down into smaller issues, solve them slowly as we go through, and gradually the issues fall away, and you can see through the end results a bit.

I suppose the same is with this Irish Ride. It’s kind of at the beginning where I still get moments now where I’m like, crikey, I’ve got to cycle a bike for two weeks every day, which is not something I’ve ever done before, but then when I start thinking, okay, what are the steps that I need to do, what are the plans I need to make to do that, and then sort of gradually work at that I get more and more comfortable with the whole thing as we get closer to the event.

PT: Yeah, it’s true. You have these challenges and it’s breaking things down trying to make the step-by-step as simple as possible. I think the reality is recruitment is like any other business and it’s a bit like life in general – you tend to have seasons, good patches when things are going really well and then around the corner, there’s going to be a more challenging period. As long as you’re preparing for the challenging period, then you get through that better and it serves you well for the good period that’s come around again.

I think that’s the same when you’re on your bike ride – you’re going uphill, you’ve got a downhill coming, but as you’re approaching uphill, you’ve just got to pedal faster and it’s just being a step up, but logically you know that the cycles do come around and I think that’s the main thing.

The guy that we work with as a Chairman has a saying that he uses quite often: “Nothing is ever as good as it seems, but equally nothing is ever as bad as it seems either.” So, you know you can blow it out of proportion in your head either way and it’s just trying to keep
level-headed as much as possible. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but it is the best way of doing it.

HT: How did you find that? You’ve launched offices all around the world, as well. How did you find that going from setting up by yourself through to where you guys are right now?

PT: It was interesting, because I set up EMEA with my wife, so this is going back 17 years ago now, and we didn’t do it the usual way by having a business plan and having everything set up before you start speaking to people.

We did it the opposite way and we started speaking to people before we even had a website. We thought, if we can attract some business in the early days, just off the back of our reputation without having anything set up, then we know we’re in a good situation. Within a week, we had things to work on.

Then, all of a sudden, we thought, we need to get everything set up, so we did it backwards. But, actually, it went very well, and I think the big thing for me was knowing the strengths and weaknesses. I know what I’m good at, but equally, I know what I’m not good at, so I think it was hiring people into the business who complemented things I was good at, but also made up for things that I either wasn’t good at or didn’t have an interest in.

If you’re not interested in something, there’s always somebody that is; someone’s dream job is one of the things you might dislike. I think it’s also having great people around you. Paul Macildowie, the Chairman, and Richard Bailey, who came in after three or four years, the management team now are all great people to work with who have a similar mindset. Without those guys, we wouldn’t be in this situation that we’re in and I think that’s the best way to approach it.

Also, a lot of trust, as well, I think trust is a big part of it. Paul [Macildowie] often will say to me that the biggest strength I have is I trust people. I’ve always gone by the approach where you don’t know if you can trust somebody until you trust them; you will get people who abuse that trust, but then you at least know they’re not trustworthy, but you get plenty of people who really go to the next level because of it and I think that’s the only way you can really grow a business – not just a group of businesses, but any business really.

It’s been a very exciting and interesting ride – hopefully a lot more to come there, as well.

I was going to ask in terms of what you’ve achieved in your life and your career, is there something that really jumps out to you as your greatest achievement to date?

HT: I’m not great with self-promotion. For me personally, it’s been the opportunity to live and work in different cultures. I think that’s probably something that I’ll look back on fondly as life experiences; getting to live in central Amsterdam and I lived on Wall Street in New York. If you’d told me that three or four years ago, when I was living in South Wales, it would be a pipe dream.

In my older age, I look back on that as the major experiences and that moment where my life took a turn for the better and changed drastically at that point – they’ve been pretty good. I think Ireland will be – probably from a sporting perspective – a major achievement if I can get around there and finish and raise the money for Operation Smile, as well. I think that’ll be a massive achievement for me and, again, something I look back on with fond memories.

Otherwise, there’s been small wins. I raced as a kid and did quite high level racing back then and won a few events, but nothing really major stands out. I’m hoping that Ireland will be my Magnus Opus, if you will – the thing that I’m working towards the most.

PT: Obviously, you’ve got the bike ride coming up. Is there anywhere people can go to help,
follow you or make donations?

HT: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been immersed into the world of social media, which is again not my forte, but under some direction and prompting, we’re going to do some video lead-ups and some vlogs of the ride itself.

We’re on Instagram, @hughtamlyn, then unbelievably I’m also now on TikTok – bear with me, because I have no idea how it’s working. A friend of mine actually witnessed how bad my posts have been so far and has agreed to take over the responsibility for that, so hopefully the quality of the videos will improve – that’s also @hughtamlyn.

There’ll be a few bits and pieces about my training leading up to the events. There’ll definitely be a few video blogs of me and the indoor bike ride, and definitely on the Everest challenge that we’ll be doing later in August.

Finally, definitely, daily vlogs of the route that we’ll be doing around Ireland, which we will try and tie in some facts about Operation Smile and statistics, and a little bit about the route that we’re doing that day, and hopefully about the weather and how well that’s holding out for me in the west coast of Ireland in October.

PT: With a bit of luck, you never quite know what the weather’s going to do now in Europe, the way it is at the moment. We are recording this in June, and I think it’s hotter in the UK than in Spain and Greece at the moment; you never quite know what the weather’s going to bring over here right now.

HT: To be honest, I was hoping to do the ride in August – that was the original plan, but the good people who are running the camper van hire unfortunately couldn’t donate the van during their peak season, so they said I can have it for late September, so we were more driven by that. So, definitely donate, because I’m sure I’ll be cycling in the wind and rain around the coast of Ireland for two weeks.

PT: We will make sure we’ve got all of these links you’ve mentioned and we’ll put them all on the podcast post so it’s easy for people to pop the donations across.

HT: If you’re interested, we’re doing the London to Brighton – there are a few different guys from recruitment backgrounds actually doing the London to Brighton, I think it’s in early September. It’s about a 60-mile bike ride, so if you were looking to dust the shorts off, I’m sure you’ve got a bike, you’re more than welcome.

PT: That’s it, you’re putting me under pressure now, so again Operation Smile are loving this podcast, so that’s all good!

A huge thanks for being on the podcast, Hugh, it’s been awesome to hear the story and, obviously, a lot that I can resonate with from what you’ve been talking about and it’s great. I think the network will also take a lot from this and the positive approach to your life, your career, and talking about what you’ve been through; it’s going to help a lot of people and hopefully raise some great money for Operation Smile, as well, so huge thanks for your time.
HT: Yeah, pleasure. Thanks, Paul.

Hugh and Beacon Search are on a mission to fund 100 surgeries by raising £15,000 during 2023. To donate, please visit Hugh’s Just Giving page. You can also follow Hugh on TikTok or Instagram to follow his journey – @hughtamlyn.

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