The Ian Wright Organisation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It was back in 1987 when Ian, a keen motor sports enthusiast and a competitor in Sporting Trials Car competitions, was asked by a friend who ran an events company if he would be willing to bring his Trials Car along to a corporate event to help entertain his clients. Of course Ian was more than happy to agree to this especially as he was going to be paid for the day. The Trials Car was received extremely well and over the next couple of years Ian was asked to come along on further corporate events occasionally hiring in an additional car with a fellow trials competitor to assist. Slowly but surely the Trials Cars became an amazingly popular activity.
It was at this point that Ian thought this would be a much preferable way to earn a living than his current role of working
for a wood company. He decided that with a little more kit he would be able to support more events and so decided to invest in a few Quad Bikes and an old Land Rover. The investment was soon rewarded with work coming in from other events companies as well as motor sport venues such as Silverstone, Thruxton and Brands Hatch race circuits. This then led to working on endless track days around the country for motor manufacturers such as Ford, Peugeot, Honda and BMW. As the work picked up Ian was joined by a friend and they started to build a more “user friendly” fleet of Sporting Trials Cars as well as some “Reverse Steer” Mini Metros. The workshop also started to take in service and maintenance work on equipment owned by other events companies.
It was in 1991 that The Pickwell Estate, a 400 acre venue in Sussex where Ian had been asked to supply equipment and instructors on numerous occasions, became a permanent base and “The Ian Wright Organisation (IWO)” was born. As well continuing to support various other companies with the supply of equipment and instructors IWO started to run team building and corporate events of its own. IWO was asked by Nissan to support them at a Game Fair and this led to a sponsorship deal with Nissan providing the company with a fleet of new 4 x 4 vehicles. This allowed the fledgling company to push on and it continued to grow rapidly. It was at this point that Ian felt the need to focus not just on running team building and corporate events but to also ensure that the equipment was well serviced and maintained and a full time mechanic was employed. This was at a time when a popular activity in the corporate entertainment world was the “Honda Pilot” or “Desert Star” buggies. However, these were high maintenance vehicles and were mainly single seaters meaning that if the client decided they wanted to take a different route to the one given they could pretty much do so with little the instructor could do about it. It was at this point that Ian decided that the Honda Pilot had had its day and an alternative was needed. Ian set about coming up with a solution with our new mechanic (who is still with us today) and between them they came up with the now famous “Apache Rally Car”, a lightweight space framed two seater buggy powered by a powerful Honda VFR 750 engine and a six speed gearbox. The Apache Rally car took the corporate world by storm to such an extent that Brands Hatch race circuit ordered nine to use for their own events and another nine were later supplied to the Bahrain race circuit.
In 2000 The Pickwell Estate was sold and IWO had to look for a new home from where we could run our own events which was when we came across Ashtree Farm, our present location. Whilst the venue is only half the size of Pickwell the actual grounds are much easier to manage and we like to claim to probably having the best off road driving centre in the South East of England. With huge open activity fields, woods, orchards and a four acre lake with its own African lodge, we can also boast to having one of the most scenic venues in Kent.
The business today is vastly different to the one which was established 25 years ago, albeit some of the faces are still the same. As well as providing a wide range of motorised activities we now provide a huge selection of country pursuits such as Clay Pigeon Shooting, Target Archery, Falconry, Geese Herding, Traditional Longbows and many more along with a selection of team building activities. We have also developed fantastic working relationships with numerous landmark properties such as Hever Castle and Penshurst Place as well as numerous Country House Hotels from where we can run our events. The business continues to grow and seems to have come through the recession leaner and fitter having just recorded our best year ever.
Here’s to the next 25 years!