Paying Respects

PAY-Memorial-walk-for-PC-Andy-HockingIn the last week or so, two people I knew and worked with have died. The first, as many will be aware, was Andy Hocking. A fantastic police officer who knew his beat, his people and his town like no other and who died unexpectedly last Saturday.  The 6000 strong procession on Saturday just gone just shows how loved he was. I had the privilege of working with him on a number of Falmouth events and Andy was just lovely – aware and helpful but never putting barriers in the way of making great projects work. His daughter Megan did work experience with us a few years ago too.
The procession on Saturday was organised in a week (and chukkas to Matt Barnicoat and Falmouth Police for making it happen!) and Andy’s sudden death has brought together the town and its police to say a huge thank you to Andy for his work, his approach and his unfailing smile. It’s been picked up by the national papers as a good news story and a celebration of his impact. Andy has left us with an incredible legacy of positivity, productive police/community relationships and has drawn us together in a way that none of us expected.

The second person is Albert Riddle. Now there won’t be a procession for Albert, but just the usual funeral etc because Albert was 90 and his death is the next stage on his extraordinary journey. Albert has been the life and soul behind the Royal Cornwall Show for decades, taking it from 25000 attendance in 1957 to over 110000 when he retired in 1989. I say retired but Albert remained involved in the Show right up to the end. He was a proud Cornishman and rightly proud of the agricultural sector, focusing on promoting and supporting it in every way he could.

His legacy is the ongoing viability of the Royal Cornwall Show as one of the best shows in the UK and it is the ongoing positive impact of the event on the agricultural sector in the county and beyond. Agricultural shows are perhaps an outdated form of event (discuss!) but Albert fought to evolve the show to provide more reasons to come for his audience and to get more people interested in agriculture.  The economic impact of the show, in itself and in the wider sector, is huge and an even greater social impact.

The bringing of people together is what these two men had in common and is what will be their legacy to the communities they served. This is the power and value of events, in any sector, and we can only aspire to have the impact that Andy and Albert had. May you rest in peace Andy and Albert and thank you!
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky

Let Us Eat (and Bake) Cake!

cakeI have always thought that the value of cake in business is underestimated.
Whether it’s celebrating a birthday or celebrating work well done, whether it’s fuel to energise the team or a focus for a productive meeting, cake is a means to bring people together and a means to mark the moment. It may be bought from a shop, or more importantly, possibly made by someone’s fair hands with effort and time invested to create something tasty.  The Great British Bake Off is perhaps the most public of means to showcase this investment and and has drawn thousands of us (including me) back to the kitchen to bake and make.

Inspired by this, a group of third year event management students at Falmouth are running the Cornish Cake Off in May. The event is a combination of baking, produce, cakes and bread with activities, tastings and inspiration from bakers and cake makers from across Cornwall and will be taking place on Events Square as part of the Fal River Festival. They have designed the event as a fundraiser and celebration as their final event within the course and as a means to showcase their event management skills.

As well as yielding great results, the process of baking requires focus and attention which perhaps is a suitable metaphor for project management. If we focus on getting the right ingredients in the right balance, and if we follow the right process that ensures all the elements (including people) are incorporated into the project at the right moment, then we should have a project that rises as it should and definitely doesn’t have a soggy bottom!

To Andie, Liv, Sophie and Jill, our cake inspired students from Falmouth, we suggest that you combine your project management skills with your bake-ability and wish you all the best for the Cornish Cake Off!
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky

It’s all about Kernow right now …

poldark

With all eyes on Cornwall following the premiere of Poldark on Sunday, we are mindful of our roots in this most beloved of places. We started in Cornwall and we remain firmly based here although we have now expanded across the country and internationally. We happily adopt the contemporary Cornish outlook of being ambitious and creative, outward focused and valuing our heritage, being part of our communities and taking a shared responsibility for our economy, environment and people.

None of these qualities are exclusively Cornish of course but they are crucial to how we work, wherever we are.  With St Piran’s Day just behind us, we have been celebrating the best of those qualities the world over from Kernow In The City, led by Louis Eliot in London, to town processions across Cornwall and to pasty festivals in Mexico, Australia and South Africa.

Whilst Poldark may celebrate our mining heritage and the Cornwall of fiction, there are thousands of people employed in and leading new business sectors – software development, pharmaceuticals, digital marketing, creative industries, renewable energy – right here in deepest, darkest Kernow. Cornwall is not a place of the past and nor is it just a summer holiday. We also have one of the highest rates of start up businesses in the world. Over 90% of Cornish businesses are small and medium size enterprises, demonstrating what a hotbed this place is for innovation and new ideas.

Cornwall Business Fair in May will be one of the best places to see all of these great businesses on show, as well as see what the duchy has to offer beyond the TV, beyond the buckets and spades. We are delighted to be part of the team delivering the Fair at the Eden Project and we have the privilege of working with a vast number of these brilliant businesses and entrepreneurial business leaders.

So if you’ve been inspired by Poldark, maybe come and see more and find your real Cornwall….and whilst you’re here, pop in for a cuppa!

 

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky

We Tread A Fine Line Between Stress and Pressure

Stressed businessmanFeeling stressed? Epic to do list and no end in sight?

Stress is endemic in our industry with constantly high (and increasing) expectations of clients and attendees as well as the need to be great at everything and deliver amazing experiences on a budget of 20p. Let alone any personal challenges that might come into play.

It is important to recognise the difference between pressure and stress – pressure is what enables to work quickly to meet a deadline or step up to take responsibility whereas stress is a destructive force that is counter-productive. Pressure drives efficiency and effectiveness; stress can make us flap!

More importantly, stress can erode our mental wellbeing and lead to any number of mental health issues including depression and anxiety so we have to face up to how it impacts on us individually and collectively. We as organisations need to support our people in creating a workspace and workflow that is productive, adaptable to individual needs, flexible and can accommodate the challenges and changes within our work. As leaders and managers of teams, we need to flex to accommodate the personal stuff. And individually we need to recognise the symptoms and impacts of stress on ourselves and those around us.

It’s not just our industry either – it’s everywhere. Any job, any context, anybody. And we all need to do something about it. We can start by talking openly about mental health issues and creating a culture where it is ok to struggle and ask for help. Two of our third year Creative Events Management students at Falmouth University are taking the lead on this, particularly in the context of higher education, and they are running a smile appeal followed by a conference for their third year final assessment.

Ben and Hannah both have personal experience of the challenges of mental health and the stigma around it and they want to help fellow students to recognise it and do something about it. The Smile Appeal will run for a week and will engage over 20 other students in running activity and promoting the campaign, which will hopefully in turn generate interest from the 4000+ students at the Penryn and Falmouth campuses. For Ben and Hannah, it’s not about being ‘woe is me’ but rather having fun with it, making it acceptable and opening up conversations.

They are following the Smile Appeal week with a one day conference targeted at health and education organisations and practitioners as well as students. These guys are nothing if not ambitious! The point is that they really want to help others and this is not just a single project. They are crafting this project into a saleable service for other universities and higher education institutions to buy in. It’s all on a social enterprise basis and has the potential to be a truly viable business.

We need more of this to make our world less stressful and more productive, more enjoyable. So good luck Hannah and Ben – let’s make the world a better place!

 

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky