Victoria Watson (HE 1989 – 1991)

 

I have been an event producer for the past 20 years. I have worked full time for companies and also as a freelancer with jobs taking me all over Europe and the UK.  These have varied from private dinners/parties, charity galas, historic events, product launches, awards ceremonies, festivals and sporting events. I am now working as a freelancer again having recently completed a contract based at Historic Royal Palaces.

I boarded at Haywardsend and studied English, History and Art. My two years at Wycliffe were fantastic where I made lifelong friends. The opportunity it gave me not only to experience a multitude of things, but also the first time to live away from home and be responsible for myself in many ways. One of my most inspirational teachers (though she didn’t actually teach me) was Mrs Roberts who was my Housemistress. When she made me Head of House she said it was liking making the poacher the gamekeeper.

I went on to study Design and Psychology at London Guildhall University. After finishing university I worked for a film company creating the covers for their films, after this I spent two years in Australia. On returning to the UK I worked for a PR company which started to do their own events for clients and from here I began my career in events.

Whilst working in London for Urban Caprice one of our clients was the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation headed up by Mikhail Gorbachev. It was a charity set up in honour of his late wife raising money for children in Russia with cancer. I produced the gala event for him three years in a row, this was held at the home of Russian Oligarch Evgeny Lebedev in the grounds of Home Park. We created bespoke event spaces in the grounds of his house, each year being different, this included building a moat into the tent one year, planting trees within the space, holographic effects, and putting in an ice skating rink for the world champions to perform on as the opening act. We also always had a presence of various animals from vultures and wolves to zebras and even one year I was asked to look into having a giraffe at the event. After researching the route it would need to take to our venue it was deemed not possible as there were too many low bridges that it wouldn’t fit under. With this event I also got to work with some amazing artists such as Elton John, Black Eyed Peas and The Scissor Sisters.

One of the strangest things I have had to do was while working for Mark Borkowski (Borkowski PR) one of our clients was the actor/comedian Arthur Smith who had been reported as saying that the average wage for an actor was less than the cost for an animal to appear on screen/stage. My boss then decided it would be good to take this further; it ended up with me dressing up as a large duck and appearing on ITV News with Arthur Smith who had to publicly fire me on live TV, I was very glad the costume disguised who I was!

I have also been part of helping to run local Gloucestershire events. For the last two years I have worked as the Event Manager for the Village Green stage at Chalfest (a local festival put on in July). It is was the idea of Dan Burner to create a local festival for the community that not only provided them with a chance to raise money for local causes but also a great day out with everything from local bands/acts, comedy tent, children activities and also headline acts such as Dick & Dom, Basement Jaxx, Sista Bliss and Sophie Ellis Bextor. I am working on it again for 2020.

The biggest challenge in my career has been the fact that events are not set hours and will always require weekends and evenings, often doing a build through the night. After having a family this has become harder to juggle and on occasions I have had to take a step back from some jobs.

I would be more than happy to help/ advise anyone interested in this field of work. The best way is to get experience, offer your help at anything event related, get a feel for the job and an understanding as it is long hours and can often be physical…but it is also one of the best jobs you can do.

 

 

Reception 2020 Open Afternoon

Friday 6th December from 1.30pm to 4.00pm.

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