Last time I wrote my blog I was flying out of the door to Badminton, and now – via the briefest of forays into Royal Windsor and RHS Chelsea – I’m doing the same for Tattersalls, and lest that sound as if I spend my life gallivanting around other events, my feet hardly seemed to touch the ground in any of them! The equestrian competitions provide some of the most important opportunities for face to face meetings with those in the sport, and events of this calibre also provide useful opportunities to catch up with our trade exhibitors and to keep a keen eye out for new offerings to suit ever changing shopping tastes.
Badminton marks a very definite line in the sand for us at LRBHT, and the activity levels in the office thereafter perceptibly click up a few notches. As I write, I register slightly nervously that the Rolex clock on our home page shows 98 days to go, that we’ve had our penultimate pre-Event Committee meeting of the year and the Box Office has now been open for a month. The latter has appeared to hold firm in the face of the online melee of the first few days, and there has been much positive feedback this year on the updated booking system. While we are only ever as good as our last event, sales of memberships and grandstand seats have been buoyant and some of the most popular viewing areas for dressage have almost sold out. Acknowledging that not everyone’s experience will have been trouble free, we have quietly breathed a collective sigh of relief in the office.
This month we have held a training day for some of our key stewards as well as our annual Desktop Exercise. We are fortunate to be able to call on the services each September of a multitude of talented people from all walks of life, many of whom volunteer their time, but it is equally important that they all ‘sing from the same song sheet’ and know what their roles and responsibilities are and what is expected of them in an incident – be it major or minor. The Desktop in particular is a chance to practise our procedures under almost live conditions using a credible scenario, under the watchful eye of representatives from all three emergency services.
We have had further meetings with our hardy concession caterers, who continue to work with us on the ever more challenging job of offering something to suit everyone, as food tastes – just as with shopping – become more eclectic and demanding and purses tighter. Further sponsorship discussions have also been held this month. While we are lucky to enjoy close family-like bonds with our existing sponsors, and they all complement each other, we are realistic to the pressures companies are now under to get real value and return for their investment in a difficult market, so we mustn’t leave ourselves bare by not exploring potential new avenues of support.
Meanwhile, the Competition department (the place where it really all happens) is getting busy. Officials have been appointed, the schedule has been prepped and the team is being trained in the new FEI entry system which is being used this year. Thank goodness for Anne’s steady hand on the tiller and – when it comes to technological change – for Georgia’s digital savviness!
Finally, quite the best LRBHT news story of the month is that our nesting duck (aka Jemima), who took up a somewhat precarious residence right under the office window fiercely guarded by Carmel in our accounts department, has flown the nest. A fortnight ago she proudly escorted four ducklings out of the Stables gate, over the B1443 and off on the long trek into town to the River Welland (I am sure the lorry driver who screeched to a halt to successfully avoid her, will not be reading this, but perhaps …. in which case thank you for restoring our faith in human nature!). No word of a lie, I think the sigh of relief in the office that she was safely on her way was commensurate to that following the first two days of the Box Office opening, and I’m glad that Carmel has returned to her figures and everyone can now enter/exit the building without fear of trespass!