Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Lunch, Drinks, Eureka – Richard Robinson. MD Econsultancy

Like it or not, pubs, restaurants and clubs play a key role in our industry. They host the meetings, the quiet words, the off the record chats that keep the wheels of the media and advertising world turning.

This new series celebrates the moment of inspiration, a chance meeting or eureka moment that led to a key development in your career, by finding out where it first struck.

The series celebrates the moment of inspiration, happenchance, critical meeting or eureka moment that led to a key development in your career, by finding out where it first struck.

What bar, pub or restaurant where you in when this momentous occasion occurred. Was in the Dog and Duck in Soho that you finally cracked the problem that led to the birth of your new company? Was it over lunch at The Gay Hussar that you shook hands on a deal that transformed your business? Or was it over late-night drinks at The Groucho that you decided to finally take the plunge to leave your agency and set up on your own?

Richard Robinson. MD Econsultancy gives us his moment. And it’s not what you might think…

  • What was your eureka moment and what did it lead to?

Discovering Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, had awarded twenty one Olympic gold medals to a team of British climbers & Nepalese Sherpas for ‘outstanding feats of human endeavour’, having fallen just 500m short of the Everest summit in 1922; long before Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay had set foot on the mountain. 

When he awarded the medals during the Closing Ceremony of the 1924 Olympics de Coubertin asked Great Britain, on behalf on behalf of every country in the world, to place one of the medals on the Everest summit. Britain agreed, saying “no effort would be spared to accomplish this desire”. The pledge was never fulfilled.

At the end of 2011, coming into the year of London 2012, this felt like too big a promise to be left unkept. Great Britain needed to deliver ‘The Olympic Games Pledge’ (as it came to be known in the media) before London 2012 began.

The challenge was where were the medals and who would get one to the top?

  • What was the background to your Eureka moment, what was the path to this success?

In 1921 the first British expedition went to Mt Everest to map the mountain and determine if it might be possible to successfully summit. The team, led by General Charles Bruce, found a possible route and returned in 1922 to make the first full ascent. 

On the 27th May 1922 George Ingle Finch & Geoffrey Bruce broke every record for mountaineering to reach a height of 8,326m before being beaten back by the weather, lack of oxygen and exhaustion. Alongside them that day was Tejbir Bura who reached 7,925m before being forced to retire due to a lack of suitable clothing. The news the team had almost reached the summit of 8,849m was equivalent to hearing astronauts had landed on the moon, a detail not lost on JFK when he delivered his Iconic We choose to go to the moon speech at Rice University in preparation for the first lunar landing.    

I heard a rumour about the story, and following two months of research, I had all the evidence I needed to approach Kenton Cool, a good friend, who also happens to be Britain’s most successful high altitude mountaineer and Everest Guide. From the moment I started telling the story, Kenton was in, and nothing was going to hold him back. 

On the 26th May 2012, exactly two months prior to the opening ceremony of London 2012, Kenton stood on the summit with Arthur Wakefield’s Olympic gold medal. The BBC broke the story and it made headlines around the world. Sebastian Coe was the first person to call Kenton when he descended to thank him personally for what he’d achieved for the London Olympic Organising Committee.

As an important side-note Tejbir Bura remains the only Nepali person to ever win an Olympic medal, however, due to a technicality of Olympic rules if a team has more than one nationality the medals are recorded as being won by the country of the team captain; which in this case was Great Britain. 

  • Where did it happen? 

The Bollingbroke, Northcote Road, Wandsworth.

  • What were you eating or drinking at the time?

Fish & chips for Kenton, there’s nothing he likes to eat more. House veggie burger, cheese, relish and chips for me.

  • Who else was involved?

Kenton Cool. Britain’s most successful high altitude mountaineer and Everest guide. KC has summitted Everest 14 times, including twice in a day and is the only person to have attained the ‘Triple Crown’ of Everest (8,849m), Nuptse (7,864m) and Lhotse (8,516m) in a single climb. 

In addition, the incredible Charles Wakefield, grandson of fellow 1922 mountaineer Arthur Wakefield. Charles and his family generously loaned us Arthur’s Olympic medal despite there being no guarantees of a safe return. The Wakefields gave us one condition, that it be placed on the summit in the same silk red handkerchief that Arthur had given it to Charles in.    

  • Do you still visit/celebrate/miss this particular venue?

The pavement outside the Bollingbroke will prevail. It’s a great pub, the scene of many a night with Ed Sheeran, including when Plus went to number 1; but these are stories for a different thread.

  • After Lockdown, where are you looking forward to revisiting

As much as I love The Bollingbroke, the place I really love is The Groucho Club. Easily the best spot in London and I can’t wait to get back.