Edward Chapman – YP ambassador


Edward Chapman is one of the ‘characters’ of Your Partnerships and an ambassador for several of our events. He’s the wearer of many hats, teller (and collector) of jokes, source of abundant positivity, and someone who pops up in many of the YP events in Cornwall. Here is a brief blog about Ed Chapman, raconteur, environmentalist, mental health champion, long distance runner, and many other things as well.

The young Edward Chapman wanted to be a scientist, and got a place at university to study biochemistry. However, there was a fire in the biochem department at the university just before he was due to go there, so he was given a deferral until the next year. In that year, he ran an ice cream kiosk, and several other bits and pieces, and developed a relationship with a young lady whose father was a powerful businessman. He felt the need to ‘do something impressive’ with his life, and chose to study to become a chartered accountant.

Always known as Edward (and quite picky about it), he was successful in all his exams, and became a chartered accountant, rising eventually to be Partner in a CA firm. He was an auditor, and tax specialist, and acquired a nickname ‘Teddy’ due to a stuffed teddy bear at a conference. One of Ed’s colleagues muddled her words, and accidentally mis-named him ‘Teddy’, and he’s had to be less fussy about what people call him since then! He did get to keep the bear though, known as Terrence, and a long-time mascot later in his business life.

One of Edward’s clients, as an accountant, got into some trouble because they didn’t have a Compliance Officer, so Ed was persuaded to take the leap and become their Compliance Officer, eventually rising to become CEO of that company. He was also, around this time, President of the Association of Friendly Societies.

Around the age of 40, Edward had started running, and really got into it – undertaking long distance, and ultra-long distance running challenges over the years. This new passion made him re-evaluate life, and he started a business selling running gear, with a friend called Phil. He jokes that they spent a lot of money on getting the business name right: “Ed and Phil”.

Both he and Phil were both used to ‘having people do things for them’ rather than doing things for themselves, in business, so it was a bit of a culture shock to have to do their own admin, and marketing, and HR. This is the point in his career at which Ed came across the Federation of Small Businesses for the first time. He joined, and the Ed and Phil business benefitted greatly from all the advice and expertise that they were able to tap into. There will be more about the FSB, and how Your Partnerships and the FSB are working together, in a separate blog, but Ed has been a volunteer for the FSB in Cornwall since 2015, and rates it very highly for the support it gives to small businesses.

Back at Ed and Phil, Terrence the bear was one of the stars, hosting ‘Terrence’s Top Tips’ on their website, covering everything from choosing the right type of running socks, to recipes for runners. Ed and Phil eventually created a recipe book, and a log book for runners, and Ed kept the rights to the recipe book, and the teddy bear, when he sold his share of the business to Phil, later.

This came about because Edward came across a guy called Dave Cornthwaite at the Adventure Travel Show in Olympia. Dave was just embarking on a series of adventures – and had completed the first one, which was skateboarding across Australia. He spoke at the Show about completing twenty-five journeys of 1,000 kilometres or more, with no powered transport, and Ed was hooked.

Dave ran a course on how to make a living from your passion, and after attending that, Ed set up ‘Trailrunningman’. The idea of Trailrunningman ™ is to live as simply as possible, while being paid to do what you love, volunteering, and taking sponsorship in order to, in Ed’s case, do long distance trail running.

It was at this point that Ed discovered a down-side of following his passion. His marriage had broken down (for other reasons), he no longer had a business partner, and he felt somewhat lonely, realising he had more friends in South Africa than Cornwall. He began networking, for Trailrunningman, and stumbled upon Your Partnerships. He immediately recognised that this was a different type of networking, informal, and with the right type of businesses for him.

He was already working with the FSB by this point, and they had been attempting to run face-to-face networking, but had struggled with the organisational aspect, so a deal was struck to allow FSB to piggyback on YP’s organisational infrastructure, which worked for a while, pre-COVID.

Ed found that YP meetings didn’t bring in much actual business for Trailrunningman, however it did give him a platform to talk about other things that matter to him. He gave a couple of talks about long distance running, but also talked about FSB, mental health, The Good Business Charter, and his favourite charity, Go Beyond. Ed firmly believes that the best way to exercise your heart is to lift other people up, and has practiced that throughout his career, supporting other small businesses, promoting a proper living wage via the Good Business Charter, and encouraging people’s mental wellbeing – as well as the obvious physical wellbeing that comes with running.

The charity Go Beyond came to Ed’s attention almost by accident. He had set himself a series of challenges, around running. The first one was to run loops up the cliff at Duckpool (north of Bude) completing as many as he could in 24 hours, climbing and descending the height of Kilimanjaro in that time. This endeavour raised money for Children’s Hospice South West.

Ed’s second challenge was to run the Tamar Lakes parkrun, at the same time as everyone else, then run it 100 more times before everyone else came back the next week. He camped by the side of the lake, and completed 310 miles of running that week. He raised money for Go Beyond, and when he took the donated funds in to their office, he was asked whether he wanted to volunteer for a week’s adventure holiday with the children that they support. Go Beyond’s website explains: “We are a charity giving children who have been bereaved, abused or bullied, who are living in poverty or caring for loved ones, the chance to escape their worries and pressures through breaks in the countryside.” Week-long breaks in their centres in Derbyshire and Cornwall take the children and young people outside of their normal circumstances, and give them a chance to do something different, including kayaking, climbing, surfing and more.

Although tempted to say ‘no’ Ed remembered that Dave Cornthwaite’s mantra is ‘say yes more’ so he said ‘yes’.

Go Beyond was closed for two years due to COVID, but in 2022, Ed went on 12 weeks away, and was planning eight during 2023 – although this has almost accidentally grown to 10. He loves the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of these children and young people, helping them get outside and explore, while also discovering who they are themselves. Here is the theme again: lifting people up. You will often hear Ed mention Go Beyond, in conversation and at YP events, asking for support for the organisation, but also asking for child-friendly jokes to share with the kids!

We’re honestly not quite sure what Ed was doing here, on a Go Beyond week, but it looks like he was having fun!

Edward’s involvement with YP has grown from initially attending meetings, in person, then online, to becoming an ambassador for a growing number of events. You won’t be surprised to spot a theme:

  • He co-hosts the Cornwall NetWALKing meeting, which is based in Bodmin, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • He hosts the online ‘Businesses with Purpose’ event on the 4th Wednesday of the month
  • He was the initial ambassador for the Bude meet-up, on the 4th Wednesday of the month, which he has now handed over to a local ambassador, after having met his aim of building a business network in the town
  • And is relaunching the Charity, Trust and CIC meeting, on the 4th Tuesday of the month, from February 2023.

the netwalking group braving the weather

Ed likes being a YP ambassador (and to be fair, he is ambassador for several other things as well), as he says he enjoys setting the tone for the meeting, helping people to share a bit about who they are, to facilitate building relationships, and thereby, business connections that will benefit all. Lifting people up. Again.

A very new adventure for Ed has been stand-up comedy. Through connections within Your Partnerships, he has landed a handful of gigs, and discovered he’s quite good at it – making people laugh is another facet of ‘lifting people up’, and he’s got a talent for that!

Among Ed’s other interests are mental health, the environment and sustainability, and being a vegan. He will happily talk to you about any of these things, particularly around suicide awareness, which has not benefitted as much as other areas from the general openness around mental health of the last few years. There will be blogs in the future about mental health and suicide awareness, and business ethics, including the environment, sustainability and linking with the Good Business Guide. It is not possible to run a business in isolation – you must consider the people you employ or work with, and the planet you live on.

If you ever meet Ed at a Your Partnerships event, he will usually pick just a couple of his key themes to talk about in his introduction, as he has too many to fit them all into a 30-second talk. But you will notice a key theme – lifting people up. Most definitely an ‘elevator’ pitch.

Blog, and bad joke, by Hannah Danson of HD Words