Me and my London: Olly Barkley

Olly Barkley, former England rugby player and founder of M2M Presents, lets us into his life and his favourite London haunts

As a rugby player, Olly Barkley won 23 caps for England over the course of a 14-year career. 

However his greatest work has arguably come since retirement in the founding of charity focused events company M2M Presents with fellow ex-pro Ed Jackson. 

Jackson broke his neck in 2017, yet is now climbing mountains – the name M2M (millimetres to mountains) reflects this remarkable journey. 

Last year, M2M launched bEat, a non-profit immersive event that's part restaurant, part after party.

You can find out more info here.    

Read on for some capital tips from a capital man...


What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?

After a big year last year we’ve plans to take bEat into London for 2020 plus some early plans bubbling away with the same concept to take it to the sky but I don’t want to say much more on it than that at this stage! We’re also looking forward to going back to Euridge Manor at the end of the year and having a stab at taking last years event up a notch. All in all, lots to keep our head down on.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

A diverse mix on this one. I’d say the first time I started for England in the Six Nations which was at Twickenham and against Wales so was a proud moment. I’d worked so hard for the years before it to get there so to be in that position was special for me and my family.

More recently, I was super proud with our first major production event with bEat. It was a year in the making and we (M2M Presents) had put hours into the thought and execution of it so for it to such a success felt amazing. It recently got nominated for an award as well so all good on that front going into this year.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I’d have done yoga from day dot and read more. I’m late to the party with both and I wish I’d committed more to it when I was in my early twenties.

What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?

How much space you got in the article?! There’s a lot. M2M is moving quickly at the moment and we have some big ambitions for it so I’d love to be in a place in a few years where we’ve made real waves not only with the experiences we’re designing but also the people we want to help with it too.

Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?

Tough to pin one. I don’t really have too many inspirations, more influences. I’m fortunate to have an amazing inner circle of mates who have all been fairly successful in their own ways so I think take a bit from each of them.

Tell us something nobody knows about you…

I’m half Welsh (Mum’s side) and could have played for Wales. I got in the Wales U-18’s schools team but turned it down late doors after a call from Andy Robinson, the England senior coach at the time.

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My London

What do you love most about London?

The energy, the diversity and the ability to find anything and everything no matter what you’re into at any point during the week. I think it really kicks the back end out of any other city in the world in that respect. Long may it continue.

What would you change about London?

Drop the D&C line (painfully slow and always late) and there to be more homeless initiatives.

What is your favourite London pub / bar?

Big fan of The Boundary terrace in Shoreditch on a summers Sunday evening. It’s also right in the mix and a two min walk to the tube station so you’re covering a lot bases. Get in early to get a seat by the fire.

What is your favourite London restaurant?

La Bodega Negra on Old Compton in Soho. Its quirky, dark, Mexican and they have an extensive Tequila offering. The barman also know their shit when it comes to cocktails and knocking up drinks.

Where would you take someone on a London date?

Food and music would form the start point so probably something like Borough Market on the weekend rolling into a gig in one of the Leake street arches in Waterloo until the early hours.

If you’re visiting London, what’s the one thing you MUST do?

Eat at Borough Market, walk down Brick Lane on a Sunday, watch the sun set at The Boundary with a Picante and avoid the D&C line :-)

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