"We didn’t get into this to just make money, we did it for the community. We want to provide a space where others can feel the benefits of climbing as we do."Ed FoxOwner
Whilst travelling through Spain and the Balearic islands on a climbing trip, it occurred to friends and young entrepreneurs Ed Fox and Matt Birch that East Sussex was severely lacking in climbing facilities, particularly Indoor climbing walls. With climbing becoming an Olympic sport, they felt it was important for the community to have access to facilities locally to not only generate more interest in the sport but also develop the skills of those already keen on climbing.
“Both Ed and myself worked in high pressure jobs in the service and care industry. We both got into climbing when the long hours and some events in our personal lives started to take a toll on our mental health. Climbing saved us, it was a great release, and we truly believe it can help others too”
Their goal was to create a space for climbing to become accessible to everyone: a place where children and adults can learn, parents can relax, and experienced climbers can feel a part of a community. Everything from the décor, the atmosphere, and even the name is all a nod to achieving this.
When asked about the origination of the name ‘The Ordinary Climbers’ Ed said “We are just two ordinary boys who want to create a space that is open to all, and can be enjoyed by all, and we hope the name reflects that. Climbing isn’t just about physical strength, it is also about putting trust in others and overcoming your fears”.
“I hadn’t ever picked up a power tool until we started this project” exclaimed Matt “but it’s a real achievement to know that everything around us has been cut, sanded, and painted by us, it’s been our labour of love”.Matt Birch Owner
The project started in January 2019, when they agreed to take ownership of a business unit on the Chaucer industrial estate in Polegate. Not kitted out for this type of operation, Ed and Matt put all of their savings into making the building suitable for their adventure, which has meant they have carried out a lot of the preparation work themselves. “I hadn’t ever picked up a power tool until we started this project” exclaimed Matt “but it’s a real achievement to know that everything around us has been cut, sanded, and painted by us, it’s been our labour of love”.
When it came to the climbing wall components they wanted to make sure they used the best they could, but to do this they needed a cash injection. Having put the majority of their funds into making the building suitable, Ed and Matt discovered they needed some financial support to invest into their equipment. They approached Locate East Sussex for advice and business manager Adam Berger worked with them, assessing their business plan and suggesting funding options to meet their needs. With Adam’s help they applied for an ESI loan and were successful, receiving £57,500 towards their project.
ESI (East Sussex Invest 7) fund is an East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programme to support the local economy and create jobs. It is delivered by the County Council in partnership with Locate East Sussex. The fund offers grants and loans for capital investment to stimulate business growth and job creation in the county.
“Without Adam’s help we wouldn’t have been able to complete the project” Ed commented.
Receiving the loan meant that ‘The Ordinary Climbers’ could progress with using their preferred and leading climbing wall manufacturer ‘Entre-prises’, paying for the design, supply and professional fitting. “Using a quality supplier was important to us, and we are glad we did as they were great. They really invested in us, working tirelessly and above and beyond to help us meet our goal” said Matt.
The Ordinary Climbers aren’t just about scaling new heights. They will be offering day passes, children’s climbing courses, introductory courses and punch passes, but they can also offer an all-encompassing experience. Not only have they worked hard to create a relaxing environment with an on-site café supplying hot drinks and delicious artisan flapjacks and treats from local supplier ‘Oatopia’, but in partnership with husband and wife team ‘Rebel Rebel Fitness’, and ‘Rebel Rebel Treatments’, upstairs in the building you can gain access to personal training and muscle therapy services.
When asked about how COVID-19 has impacted them Ed said, “Covid restrictions may mean lower numbers, but we see that as an opportunity to get to know our clients better. “We didn’t get into this to just make money, we did it for the community. We want to provide a space where others can feel the benefits of climbing as we do. Our only regret is that we haven’t been able to share our journey to this point as much as we would have liked”
Already creating a buzz via their social media channels with a community of around 400 climbers all ready to get climbing, ‘The Ordinary Climbers’ have launched with many bookings selling out now!
For more information on The Ordinary Climbers visit their website on www.theordinaryclimbers.com
Locate East Sussex were pleased to be able to support ‘The Ordinary Climbers’ on their journey. To find out how we could help your business then ‘Get In Touch’