Lawgistics Mt Kilimanjaro boot camp team in Brighton aLawgistics Mt Kilimanjaro boot camp team in Brighton a


Lawgistics boss tells how tackling Kilimanjaro for charity Ben suddenly became hugely important

  • Joel Combes is part of a team climbing Africa’s highest mountain in aid of Ben
  • He tells of being in a dark place because of the pandemic and losing his father
  • But after help from friends he realised what an important role the charity plays

Time 12:28 pm, November 21, 2022

The boss of Lawgistics has told movingly how this year’s Industry Leader Challenge became so important to him.

Joel Combes, who is managing director of the legal consultancy to the automotive industry, is part of a 15-strong team tackling Africa’s highest mountain to raise much-needed money for the charity Ben.

They are currently climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, after the gruelling assault on the 5,895m (19,341ft) dormant volcano in Tanzania had to be postponed from November 2020 because of the pandemic.

The team also comprises Zara Ross, Matt Wigginton and Rachel Clift from Ben, Clive McGregor and Adrian Wallington from Marshall Motor Group, Neil Grant and Spencer Grinham from Hella, Rachael Prasher and Jim Holder from What Car?, James Tordoff and Andy Bateman from JCT600, Andy Hamilton and Anthony McAteer from Euro Car Parts, plus Leon Bosch from Partner&.

Taking on the challenge involved personal and team training. Each member was given a 16-week training programme and attended team events, including the Three Peaks Challenge.

Writing for a blog just days before setting off for the challenge, Combes said how different the world was in January 2020 when the invitation was initially made, freely admitting that his motives then were mostly self-serving.

Just a few months before, he and his father David had received a trophy at the 2019 Car Dealer Used Car Awards for Lawgistics’ HR Manager software.

But once the coronavirus crisis hit, they had to halt plans to take on more lawyers and expand the business.

Lawgistics was having to find ways to cut costs and reassure its employees.

Then David – who also received the Car Dealer Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Used Car Awards – died in July 2020 at the age of 72.

‘I went from riding the crest of a wave to being dragged down into the sand face first, writes Joel.

‘As an employer and as a person, I was in a dark place that became even darker when I lost my father, who was also my business partner, followed by further lockdowns and business restrictions.

‘And this was when my motives for the climb changed.

‘It is said that “something good always seems to come out of something bad”, and unbelievably, this happened to me.

‘Unexpectedly, friends who I had made through business reached out to me. They just wanted to check in on me.

‘Normally, our conversations would be strictly business with some laughs at industry events, but not these conversations.

‘We talked at length about experiencing similar issues, worries, anger and grief.

‘And although our talks couldn’t change our situations, they made me feel better than I had.

‘We continued talking regularly, sharing our setbacks, and celebrating our successes. And this was when I understood the importance of the Ben charity to exist.’

Combes adds: ‘I had been at rock bottom, needed help, and received it.

‘But what about those who didn’t have a support network? Or those too proud or feeling ashamed to share with their family and/or friends? What did they do?

‘No one should have to shoulder these situations alone.

‘I may not have had to call Ben, but it is comforting to know they are there for our industry.’

‘As I trained for the climb, I worked closely with the Ben charity and learnt more about the people and businesses they provide both practical and emotional support to.

‘The help that Ben provides to motor trade businesses extends beyond the owners and employees – it encompasses families and individuals whose circumstances have suddenly changed and they have found themselves struggling.

‘I witnessed the surge for Ben’s help dramatically increase during the pandemic and the effects still reverberate today. Ben needs the money more than ever to carry on assisting those who are most vulnerable.

‘The pandemic will always serve as a bitter reminder to me that life is both precious and unpredictable. No one knows when they may need help and Ben is a lifeline for so many people.’

He is asking people to help with his fundraising. ‘Any amount you can spare to help my fundraising would be greatly appreciated and ensure someone who needs support will receive it.’

Combes is due back on Tuesday, November 29.

Donations can be made via this link.

Pictured at top from left to right on Telscombe Cliffs during a boot camp ahead of the climb are Adrian Wallington (group commercial director at Marshall Motor Group), Leon Bosch (head of automotive at Partners&.), Clive McGregor (franchise director at Marshall Motor Group), Rachel Clift (Ben health & well-being director), Matt Wigginton (Ben director of partnerships, engagement & income), Zara Ross (Ben chief executive) and Joel Combes

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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