James Bond is such a huge part of our national heritage, that even the Queen is enamoured by him - memorably appearing alongside 007 in a sketch for the London 2012 Olympics.
And plenty of us fancy ourselves as secret agents and spies, tackling tricky situations and coming out on top. So corporate team building and spy gift days are bound to prove popular. Especially if the company is set up by a former special forces solider and more than 90 per cent of the instructors have previously served in the army.
Spy Games was founded by Dave Thomas in 2001, providing custom made events across the world as well as individual experiences on the 36 acre site at the headquarters in Singleborough near Buckingham.
Dave served in the military for eight years before moving into security and surveillance work for blue chip companies. He said: “Many people said my job sounded exciting and interesting, so my idea with Spy Games was to create a company to give everyone the chance to enjoy the world of spies and espionage and play with the kit.”
The majority of the work is corporate with clients including Deloitte and Touche, Siemens, The Home Office and Ernst and Young, and the activities and equipment can be taken all around the country, Europe and the world for team building camps.
Events are flexible and can be off-the-shelf programmes or tailor made to suit company objectives and budgets. They can include evasive driving, code breaking, safe cracking, hostage rescue, survival training, a diamond heist and sniper shooting. When budgets allow, events can be as extravagant as including helicopters and speedboats.
But for those of us on a tighter budget, there are a variety of other options listed on the Spy Games website, that can be enjoyed at the Singleborough site.
I was invited to try out the Spy Academy, a three hour session that includes sniper shooting, pistol draw, axe throwing, crossbow and unarmed combat, costing £99 per person. I was advised to take spare clothing and wet weather gear as most of the activities are outdoors, but on the day I attended it was warm and dry so the spares remained in the car boot.
We were welcomed by Mike Thistleton (pictured above), the event manager of the day and a former Royal Artilleryman. This took place in a huge hanger adorned with framed images of James Bond past and present. Mike took us through a short safety briefing before we were split into groups of about eight so that everyone was always busy with something.
To my amazement I managed to hit the targets in the sniper shooting, threw the axe into the jugular of the enemy and managed a bulls eye with the crossbow. We worked in pairs in the unarmed combat and learned how to extract ourselves from the grip of an assailant.
The instructors were friendly and patient and helped to build camaraderie amongst the group, so that we were clapping and cheering each other on and celebrating one other’s success.
Participants in Spy Games events at Singleborough travel from as far away as Scotland and are a good balance of men and women attracting all age groups with special events for children.
There is a catering truck on site offering basic fayre including chips and burgers; and there is a portable loo. For full details of all Spy Games options, including hen and stag parties, gift experiences, corporate events and school programmes see the website: www.spy-games.com