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MEET THE CHRISTMAS PARTY TEAM: EVENT MANAGERS

There are now less than two weeks to go until the Cooper Associates County Ground hosts its first Christmas Party Night of the year.

With this in mind we have been introducing you to the people who will be making sure that you enjoy a perfect party experience.

Over the course of eight nights Somerset County Cricket Club’s Catering Department will be hosting around 4000 party-goers across three separate venues within the ground.

Let’s meet the people tasked with ensuring that everything runs smoothly!

We recently caught up with Event Managers, Heather Mill and Paul Cooper to get their views on the festive season.

How long have you been involved with our Christmas Party Nights?

Heather: “I’ve been doing it for a very long time now. I’ve lost count of how long I’ve been doing it! It’s great to see the events getting bigger and better every year.”

Paul: “This will be my first Christmas Party Night here and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve heard about how busy it will be and I’ve also heard about how good they are too. I can’t wait to see how it all operates in the County Room, Long Room and 1875 Club.”

How will you be making sure that everything goes smoothly on the night?

Heather: “We could have 280 people in the dining room and therefore we break the room down in to stations. Each station leader is in charge of one sector of the room which is made up of about four tables. Rather than running it as one huge event for nearly 300 people, you need to run each station. That allows you to break it up and therefore makes it much easier to manage. For example, my station might all be sat down and ready for their starters whilst another station might be waiting for their guests to sit down. I then need to get my starters out rather than waiting for the other station to be ready.”

Paul: “I’ll be making sure that the rooms are all set up and that everyone knows what they’ll be doing on the night. We’ll all be working together to make sure that the food and the service are of the highest possible standard.”

How good is the team here?

Heather: “It’s very important that we have a really good team and that’s what we’ve got here. I think that all the departments would say that they have the toughest job on the night but at the end of the day it’s vital that we all work as a team. Everyone works really hard and we all work well together.

Paul: “There’s real strength in the team and everyone pulls together to make sure that people get what they want. There’s a really good team spirit and it’s nice to be a part of that.”

It’s a long night for you and your team isn’t it?

Heather: “We stay on here working until about 2:30am, then go home for a bit of shut-eye and then we get back in at about 3pm to make sure that everything is ready to go again. When the rest of the staff get in at about six we have a detailed briefing where we will run through the menu so that everyone knows what is available and what dietary requirements there are. It’s vital that everyone is prepared for any questions that might come up. When someone asks a question on the night, the staff need to be able to answer it.”

Paul: “When all the guests go home, the night starts again for us. We could have a conference or a buffet the following day so we need to turn the room around in readiness for that. That means shifting the tables, taking up the dancefloor, moving the chairs and things like that. The standards can’t drop so we need to make sure that the following day’s meeting is delivered to the same level as the previous night’s event.”

Heather: “It can be hard work after all the guests have gone home. There are tables to be moved and dressed and chairs to be stacked, so it can be pretty tiring. Everyone mucks in and it can be quite good fun to be honest. It’s important to have fun as well and at the end of the night I like to get hold of the microphone and make people laugh as they’re leaving. It’s also important to keep morale up at 2 in the morning when the staff are coming to the end of their night, so I try and make them laugh. That’s the best bit of the night for me. It’s definitely not a 9 to 5 job where you come in and sit at a desk doing the same thing all day. Every single day here is totally different and that’s what makes it so special.”

Paul: “It’s important to keep everyone motivated at 2 o’clock in the morning when we’re turning the rooms around and that will be one of my roles.”

What’s it like when it’s all over?

Heather: “There’s a real sense of achievement when it’s all over. To have made thousands of people happy is amazing and that is what we’re there for. We feel good because everyone has had such a good time.”

Paul: “We want people to leave here wanting to come back next year, not just for Christmas but for cricket or any other kind of event. There’s a huge amount of pressure involved in delivering these nights but when you see all those people leaving happy it’s all worthwhile. Once it’s all over we’ll look back, review how it all went and then start planning for next year!”

How important is the planning element?

Paul: “We’ve been planning these nights for months, from the food down to the crackers and the colour of the serviettes. It’s incredible the amount of work that goes in to these events in order to make sure that people have the best time possible. Planning is almost even more important. We need to make sure that everything is in place and that everyone has exactly what they need. Good communication is key and we work closely with the chefs and the front of house staff to make sure that every single thing is in place and that everything runs like clockwork. We’ve been talking about this for months now and I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition.”

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