Alan and Juliet Barratt are a special kind of duo. Best friends and business partners (co-founders of one of Britain’s fastest growing companies), they are also husband and wife.

After meeting at the gym in 2003, the couple immediately connected, taking their passion for fitness and their frustration at the lack of appealing nutritional products on the market, and founded Grenade – the world's fastest growing sports performance company in 2010.

Continuing their success, they first made it to the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2014, celebrating their entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen.

Both Alan and Juliet had long admired Richard’s vision as an entrepreneur and were delighted at the opportunity to meet him after making it to FastTrack again in 2015 and 2016. Through Richard, they were introduced to Virgin Unite, later successfully bidding to join an ‘experience that matters’ with Richard and Virgin Unite, in South Africa.

On arriving in Johannesburg, The Barratt’s met fellow entrepreneurs, who they made important and long-lasting friendships with. Alan and Juliet learned of Richard's work in conservation, his love of animals and the protection work his team undertake on the ground in the Sabi Sands.

Poaching is a serious issue in the region and during the trip, David Powrie, Chief Warden at the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, gave a talk about the local struggle to protect its wildlife,

“In recent years, the brutal poaching of Africa’s iconic wildlife has reached proportions of a real and dramatic crisis – one driven by massive demand for illegal wildlife products in Asia, but also by the ease with which poachers are able to go about their business in far too many of Africa’s national parks and wildlife reserves.”

In 2013, the number of rhinos poached soared. In an urgent response, Sabi Sands made the decision to bring security matters in-house, taking a hard line against wildlife trafficking and implementing a multi-layered approach to protecting and conserving the animals. Rhino poaching subsequently reduced by 98 per cent by 2017.

Despite such a success story, the Barratt’s were troubled to learn the extent of the problem, and to hear that whilst the team were doing all they could, they were facing major challenges trying to prevent the death toll rising again.

One of the biggest challenges in the effort to protect and preserve the gentle giants of the Sabi Sands is keeping track of movement on the land at night. An almost impossible task, the rangers are left trying to navigate the grounds and activity in the pitch black – and poachers know this is the case, often using it to their advantage. In his talk, David discussed how the installation of critical monitoring equipment into a helicopter could assist in monitoring poacher activity at night – any threat could then be communicated to the teams on the ground.

After learning there could be a solution to such devastating information, Alan – a recreational pilot – and Juliet took it upon themselves to find the funds to make it happen. Since then, a pilot has been trained, equipment sourced and ordered and the team is ready to go.

Virgin Unite’s Community create exponential impact by effectively applying its collective resources to drive systemic change. A tribe of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers, the Community is passionate about getting tangible results for both people and the planet. Alan and Juliet are a brilliant example of that.

We’ll be sharing more stories about more of our wonderful Community members in the weeks to come. Watch this space.