A week ago, on Thursday 22nd August we saw the return of the annual Summer Event for our region, and boy, was it a big one! A high bar had been set the previous year at our ’10 years and counting’ party, but the afternoon Vicki Watson had planned for us didn’t disappoint! The 8 collective offices from the SEM, A1 and Leicester regions (not forgetting ‘Will’ from Glasgow of course!) all came together at the fantastic ‘Venue’ at Center Parcs – Woburn Forest.
The aim of the day was simple. Gather together as one business unit, get to know each another a bit better (we didn’t realise at this point just how close we’d be bonding with some colleagues!),learn more about the business and also of course, have some fun!
The afternoon started with an introductory presentation by Chris Timms, Andy Minifie and Nathan Tinkler, it was rumoured the 10-minute presentation took 4 hours of rehearsal time! On the flip side, they were followed by the newly named ‘Three Musketeers’ who were well and truly ‘winging it’! Gary Woodhall of SEM, Simon Laskey of A1, and Richard Buckby of Leicester collaborated conversationally, to provide the business with locational updates for each of the offices and outlined their plans on how they anticipate pulling all offices together in terms of working practices, culture, etc. As much as parts of the presentation felt like a comedy sketch, it was incredibly informative and reinforced thinking of ourselves as one regional business as opposed to individual offices.
Alexandra Marriott, our regional Head of People Services, was next to hit the stage with a throwback to the aforementioned summer event last year, during which we were all invited to propose new values and behaviours we wanted to be known for as a business. Alex followed up this year with an update on how this project has been growing and it was great to share this journey with some of the newer offices and colleagues who have recently joined our ranks and fed into our new values, these being; DISTINCTIVE, INCLUSIVE, VALUABLE, COURAGEOUS.
This was followed by one of my personal favourite parts of the day, a presentation by 6 of my colleagues, some of which I hadn’t met before. Trish Burnell, Euan Davies, Charlotte Hare, Gemma Rutland, Rizwan Ashraf and Sukhjinder Attwal all really stepped out of their comfort zones to share their journeys within the business to date, sharing powerful reflections on how they’ve got to where they are today in front of an audience of well over 150 people. When discussing these later with others, they often remarked at how the presentations got them thinking about their own journey in the business so far too, and how different themes discussed are applicable to a lot of members within the business.
Next up, we were split into our teams and let out into the forest! The twelve teams were a real mixed bag of roles and locations, which meant a great opportunity for us to network with colleagues we don’t normally work closely with. We faced 6 challenges, from go-karting to seeing how many members of the team we could fit on a crate (I told you we got up close and personal!). The activities were great fun and allowed us the chance to blow off some steam following the mentally stimulating presentations! The team spirit that afternoon was incredible to witness, everyone got stuck in and a special mention must go to Jade Paton, who at 7 months pregnant, got just as involved as everyone else! There were too many highlights to mention them all and it was clear to see when we all met after the activities everyone was having a real giggle sharing the stories of the day.
To bring the day to a natural close, we all met at ‘The Pancake House’ for a much-needed drink, followed by a BBQ and yes you’ve guessed it, pancakes for dessert! A medal presentation was held and congratulations went to Gavin Parsons’s team who finished out in first place, Paul Jepps had stepped in as co-captain when Gav had to dash off for his holidays and performed a slick side-step which concluded with Tom Dymond ending up in the lake, solo, (will we ever have a Summer Event which doesn’t end with someone getting drenched?!!)
All in all, it was a fantastic day.. The event gave us the chance to bond further with colleagues we know well, meet and enjoy the day with new faces, with whom we don’t interact with on a daily basis, and come together as one business to reflect, plan for the future and do all of this, whilst still having fun!
Here’s to next year!
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