In 2018, when Sarah Pugh and Andrew Wilkinson from our Birmingham office proposed the idea of taking a three month sabbatical this summer, we were thrilled to agree in acknowledgement of their continued commitment to the company. Having recently returned from their break, during which they travelled across Europe, we asked them about the experience:
Why did you take a sabbatical?
“A lot of people tend to go travelling once they’ve finished university, but we both had a similar focus back then to get a job and start earning money. Travelling definitely wasn’t a priority. However, after working at Venn Group for 16 years between us, we thought that we might qualify for a sabbatical. We spoke to our Director, Avtar Singh about the possibility of doing one the following summer.
Avtar and Venn Group were extremely accommodating, and by booking it so far in advance we were able to put plans in place so that the business unit wouldn’t be adversely affected by our absence. Having the security of a job to come back to made the whole experience a lot more appealing.”
What did you do and what were the highlights?
“I came up with the idea of travelling across Europe in a camper van, taking our dog, Pacha with us. Andrew has fond memories of camping all over Europe when he was growing up, and we’ve both always loved the outdoors and being active, so this appealed to us both.
There were absolutely loads of memories from the trip, but standout ones included paragliding in the Triglav National Park in Slovenia, trekking to the top of a snow-capped mountain peak in the Pyrenees and all of the hikes we did with Pacha.
Aside from the obvious, the simple things were highlights too. We absolutely loved the French culture; the best way to start each day was going out to the local bakery in the morning for big fluffy croissants and a fresh baguette with a coffee. In a lot of the remote parts of Europe, the tiny little villages we drove through would often have roadside stands selling their homemade products. They were all a million times tastier than the stuff you get in a supermarket.”
What were the main benefits of taking the sabbatical?
“Practically speaking, taking a sabbatical was fantastic, as it enabled us to essentially do 14 separate week long holidays one after the other, creating memories that will stay with us until we are old and grey!
It also allowed us to find out what we both love doing in the absence of our usual everyday routine. We had the opportunity to do so many active things, hiking mountains, paddle boarding across fjords, camping in the middle of nowhere. It was incredible, although we know living in a caravan for three months might not be everyone’s cup of tea!
It was 100% the best decision we have ever made. It meant that we could throw ourselves into to the trip and return fully recharged to the jobs that we enjoy so much.
We were so appreciative to have the support and encouragement of Avtar and the business as a whole, allowing us to make these memories happen.”