Posted on: February 2020 Liv McNeilis
Our very own Matt Monaghan is tackling an enormous challenge, all in the name of charity. This June, he will be running and trekking through 230km of thick jungle to raise money for RSBC – an amazing charity that supports blind children and their families. Hopefully, he will emerge in one piece for a hero’s welcome back at Phaidon International HQ. Read on to discover his story and how you can donate.
Hi Matt, can you tell us about your role and how you got into recruitment?
I’m the Head of the Partnership Programme in Europe for our Commercial & Industrial (C&I) brands. My role is to look after our key accounts, as well as bringing on new clients. I got into recruitment after a friend who worked at Phaidon International told me about the DSJ Global business, who recruit within procurement. Working as a buyer at the time, it made sense to transition into the role of a recruiter in this space as I understood the language of a procurement professional.
This is an enormous challenge that not many of us would ever consider. Why are you doing the ‘The Jungle Ultra’ for RSBC?
When I was 15 years old I detached my retina playing rugby and following 11 operations, subsequently, lost the sight in my left eye shortly after my 17th birthday. Tasks that were previously second nature became a challenge: driving, walking in crowds, negotiating anything in the dark or even something as simple as pouring a drink. With only one eye you lose all depth perception and not being able to immediately judge the distance you are from an object takes some time to adjust to.
With 56 hospital visits over the 2 years, I met a diverse group of individuals. Aside from the wonderful hospital staff, the people who stuck with me the most are the children who were also in hospital for their own variety of treatments and surgeries. Every day, four children will be diagnosed as either being blind or severely vision impaired.
From toddlers through to young adults like myself, they were all incredible in the face of adversity. Losing your sight in any capacity is not only hard to live with, it is incredibly scary. But each of these children and their families would smile, laugh and even joke about their own individual situations.
It's always been on my agenda to do a challenge and try in some small way to benefit the Royal Society for Blind Children. I know better than most just how much that support can mean for these children and their families now, and through into their adult lives.
RSBC are there to help blind children through every stage of their progression, all the way to help them gain employment as young adults.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge during the Amazon Rainforest Ultra-Marathon?
I think the biggest challenge will be the heat and humidity. I can train in London to run the distances needed, but there is no way for me to simulate the 30 degree+ temperature and 90% humidity conditions. Not to mention all the snakes, spiders and insects…
You do a lot of fundraising – can you tell us a bit more about what you’ve done in the past and what motivates you to keep going?
I’ve previously run the London Marathon, 30 miles across Exmoor while carrying 30lbs on my back, completed the 3 Peaks Challenge in 24 hours, and most recently 32 races (minimum of 10km distance) in a calendar year – all for charity. I’m motivated by pushing my limits to help those who are less fortunate in their personal circumstances. When I’m training or racing and it begins to get tough or I’m suffering, I always remember that it is a temporary situation whereas those I am aiming to support have to deal with their afflictions every minute of every day.
That’s very inspiring! How can other employees at Phaidon International get involved in charity work?
Phaidon International has a few official partnerships with different charities that employees can get involved with. You can speak to the HR Team about this. Equally if there is a particular charity you feel a personal connection to, you can reach out to them directly and ask their ideas about how you can support. It doesn’t have to be doing extreme challenges to raise money. You can volunteer your time at various events or arrange different activities for people to get involved with and raise awareness – it all helps.
If you want to support Matt, you can donate to his JustGiving page here.