event management

Why Me?!

Here’s the latest Blogspot from our lovely blogger, Holly Brailsford, all about how to embrace being given the task of sourcing and organising any event….

 

So… since you’d been chosen to plan the office Christmas get-together which was a huge success you’ve drawn the short straw to book an off-site 2 day meeting for all of your senior management or… “bestowed” the honour of organising and running the company’s annual conference!

Inside you whisper… Why me??

When this planning malarkey isn’t part of your main job role, and you’ve never organised anything larger than a dinner for 30 at your local pub for your Christmas Do’, where on earth do you start!?

The whisper of “Why me!” has now grown to a scream!

First of all, there is a reason you have been given the job of planning, implementing and heading up such an important date/s in your company’s calendar so “hurrah” is really what you should be thinking.

How many people will be attending? Find out will the event be compulsory, invite only or do your delegates sign up to attend? You’ll need an idea of minimum and maximum numbers you expect, as well as an idea of room layout. If you’re unsure what would work best, the venue will be able to advise you.

Location of this event is your first point of call, find out what is important to the big bosses. Who is attending and where are they coming from? Do they have a preferred location, such as near Head Office or a flagship site. This will help you narrow down your venue search.

Are they looking for the buzz of a city centre that is easy to access by everyone attending by car, rail or plane, or the peace of the countryside with free parking in abundance? Do they want your attendees to go free into the city in an evening to explore, or keep them in all in one venue for networking and relationship building?

Do you need to think about being near an airport to accommodate your international guests? If so, there are now almost micro-cities on the doorstep of major air links so you can literally watch the planes take off during your event which can add a really quirky edge to the day.

Budget – What do they want to spend on this shindig and how much will be included for the each person attending? Are delegates paying to attend or is this one “on the house?”

Once you know the answers to these questions you’re on the right track to start looking at potential venues.

A Conference & Events Agency is always a great help when venue searching, they will have a list of varied and preferred suppliers at their finger-tips ready and eager to accept your new enquiry. You can also go one step further and choose an agency that can assist in the planning and logistical side of your conference.

Just like buying a new car or house, you’ll know which venue is right when you get there. You’ll get “that feeling” that the atmosphere and staff will create, if you can picture yourself behind their registration desk ticking off names and see your delegates eating their lunch then this is the venue for you. However… You need to look with your head as well as your heart.

  • How easy is it to get from the main plenary room to your break-outs?
    Are your break-out rooms split up over different floors?
    How good is their signage and can you provide additional?
    Do you need the venue to be DDA compliant?
  • Where is lunch & is there room for an exhibition if needed?
    Do you require seating for lunch?
    Will your delegates be queuing for lunch if you’re planning a buffet?
    Is the buffet self-service or will staff be on hand to assist?
  • What is the standard of the food & can you try some?
    Do you need a bespoke or themed menu and is there an extra charge for this?
    Listen to the venues recommendations regarding food and how to fuel your delegates.
  • Is there WIFI for everyone?
    Is the internet key to your event for streaming or video link? Find out the bandwidths  and do some testing if you can.
  • Are you able to provide pop-up banners, uniformed staff and “brand up” as much as you like?
    This will help create the delegate journey, from arrival they’ll  be seeing your logos and company colours making them feel at ease straight away.

The list of questions is endless and this is where your C&E Coordinator at the venue will help and so will your chosen agency. So don’t feel like a rabbit in head lights, it’ll all come together!

Also listen to your Coordinator at the venue too, they know the building and how to make it work best for you. Their advice will come from experience and if you’re ever unsure you can ask for past examples of how something worked or didn’t work for a previous client.

When it comes to signing the contract for your venue, make sure you read all of the terms and conditions. They can differ from venue to venue so ensure you’re fully aware of all the minimum number charges, cancelation policy should you need it and any other important points they may have failed to mention on confirmation.

The most important part of planning any event is to enjoy it!

As long as your open with your communication, ask questions when needed and you’re organised it will all go swimmingly and you’ll feel an immense sense of achievement when it all comes together.

Event planning isn’t for everyone, but anyone can do it.

 

About the Author

Holly Brailsford is Sales Manager at The Midland Hotel 

Category : Blog
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Blogspot: New Year, New Event: Better Late Than Never!

Ok lovely blog readers, this one’s a bit late, but rather late than never right??
So here’s what our lovely friend, Holly Brailsford had to say about new years and events….

 

Now that 2014 is in full swing, everyone can start to plan their yearly event calendar, whether big or small. Some may even begin thinking about what might be coming up for 2015 and after. Post-Its and note-pads are covering desks up and down the country, as cups of tea and coffee are drunk whilst ideas are thrown back and forth. What a wonderful time of year!

Year on year we see the same events and conferences hit our doors, it’s fantastic to have the repeat business and we love seeing a familiar face. What is even greater is when the event gets better and better, we love nothing more than an enthusiastic organiser! Numbers rise, delegates are more excited to attend and the whole experience becomes more well-rounded for all. What are these organisers doing differently? Whether their field is medical, charity, financial etc, they keep people attending time after time and keep them engaged with the topic.

One of the key points is changing with the times, it sounds so simple but embracing the new can make a huge difference to the delegate experience. We have events now that can stream internationally so delegates and companies whose budgets have been cut can login and watch from afar, keeping the interest going for those who can’t attend in person. It’s also a great way for those people who do attend, but miss a key speaker, to login afterwards and watch their talk at a later date.

Twitter and hashtag-ing is becoming more and more popular and powerful, giving your event its own hashtag is a brilliant way of drawing in a younger and more tech savvy audience and also broadening your reach across social networking. Your hashtag can be included on promotional material prior to the event, to create a buzz before you’ve even arrived. It can be printed on banners, hand-outs and event t-shirts to push the message that you want your delegates to interact! If you want to go one step further you can include a live news-feed during your conference.

We see very formal events, who sometimes are dealing with incredibly difficult or troubling topics lighten the mood with brightly coloured welcome packs, banners and matching t-shirts and hoodies for staff. This is a great way of taking the edge of a conference which could otherwise be very emotionally draining.

As you head into 2014 and think about a new event you plan to hold, something totally new for you and your company think about “you” as the delegate. What will make you excited to attend, what will make you comfortable throughout and most importantly… what will make you want to come back for the 2nd year it’s held. There is nothing more valuable than constructive feedback and opinions of others who attend events regularly. Ask them what made a particular event stand out for them, you’ll probably be surprised by the answer!

If you’re gearing up for your annual event… what can you shake up to cause more interest and a buzz! If you’re bored of planning the conference, the chances are your delegates are bored of attending. What would make it fun for you, even when covering the darkest of subjects? How can you engage and interact with the attendees more effectively and what do they need to take away with them at the end.

Large events are also fabulous networking opportunities across companies or within larger frame-works of people who only see each other a few times a year. Sharing best-practice between colleagues and peers during these times is something to consider as well, giving your delegates enough down-time to work the room.

2014 is going to be about experimenting and trying something new, and sometimes a little out of the norm. But, who says the norm has to be dull…. Throw in some colour and a sense of humour and even the heaviest of subjects can be met with a smile.

About the Author

Holly Brailsford is Sales Executive at Manchester Conference Centre and Hotel and is responsible for all New Business and Account Management at the venue.

Category : Blog
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End of Another Year…

Well what can I say – it’s been one hell of a year for us here at Top Venues and Events.

With wedding bells, new team members and bigger events there’s been something to keep us on our toes all year (we’re not complaining!).

We’ve been that busy, particularly the last three months, that we’ve even failed to keep our lovely readers up to date with everything that’s going on. (Sorry about that)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the score for 2014….

  • We have a guest blogger from Down Under that will be providing monthly blogs on everything event related to give us an incite into how our pals across the water work.(first blog will be this week)
  • We’re looking to find new offices as we need a bigger space so will keep you posted when we do.
  • We’re taking on even bigger events and working even closer with some of our regular clients to create better working partnerships.
  • We’re continuing to keep up the service standards we’ve set ourselves over the last few years.
  • We’re looking to keep you updated with more blogs that we hope you’ll find of interest.
  • We’re getting to know even more suppliers to be able to offer more to all our clients, old and new.
  • More importantly – we’re still the same approachable, happy people you currently work with and will continue to be 🙂

So, with all that to come and with this year coming to a close, all that’s left to say is:

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

from all the team at Top Venues & Events xx

 

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Blogspot: Entertainment? Here’s A List Of Things To Consider.

Guest Blogger: Susan Heaton Wright

There are many fabulous venues around and many brilliant people at those venues to help you. If you are including entertainment in your event, it is worthwhile asking the following questions, to ensure you choose the right venue for you.

1. Timing restrictions; some venues have a curfew on sound, for example, no music played outside after 8pm – so if you might need to re-think the idea of having a band outside for late evening dancing! Remember Hyde Park last year, where the microphones were switched off! You want to avoid that!

2. Noise restrictions – decibel limits. Many venues have maximum decibel meters where the power cuts. A DJ or band members are going to look stupid if their equipment suddenly stops working. Being aware of this will avoid disappointed guests!

3. Types of music: there could be restrictions on amplified instruments – so acoustic instruments and voices should be used in those cases, although we have found that occasionally a keyboard could be used – although do check!

4. Preferred suppliers: a few venues will only allow specific suppliers to work there. Check before you plan your event!

5. Loading/unloading equipment : how easy is it? Will you need to have someone on guard to avoid a parking ticket? Will you need additional people to help with the loading. Are there time restrictions of when equipment can be delivered?

6. Getting to know the porter/doorperson/receptionist who will know all the tricks to avoid parking tickets. The saints of any venue know everything about unloading, the easiest route to the performing areas, any top tips. Ask to have their contact details so you can build up a rapport.

7. Any fabric (historial) features that need to be preserved: will equipment need to be put on special flooring to protect the floors? Cellos protective spikes. But also certain venues have restrictions on the mix of sound – one venue we work at has restrictions on the bass levels, because it affects the windows!

8. Power sockets and the amount of power – particularly outside. It is okay for a venue to say ‘We have power outside’ but if there is only one socket, it could restrict equipment used therefore might need to arrange a generator or cabling.

9. Acoustics – some venues are very resonant, or dry: a space with no carpets or curtains can be very noisy; low ceilings create a different acoustic. The challenge is that when your guests arrive, the acoustic alters again. Ask advice from your venue and also your entertainment supplier, to see what will work. If necessary, arrange a recce to the venue – this will show you if they know what they’re talking about too!

10. Type of event: if you are having a network event, remember that people want to talk and hear each other. A noisy room, and one that also has entertainment, might be too noisy. Likewise an event for 50 people which normally holds 250 will have the guests and entertainment ‘rattling round’ the room. Choose your space according to the event as well as the number of guests.

 

About the Author

Susan Heaton Wright is Creative and Managing Director of Viva Live Music.

Category : Blog
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Blogspot: Making an Event ‘Exceptional’

Ok people, here it is, our next blogspot. You may think we’ve already covered Making an Exceptional Event. However, this time we’re looking at it from a different angle…and looking at making an Event Exceptional! Happy reading….

Guest Blogger: Jilly Jones

Exceptional events happen because of the people involved. Right from the initial enquiry, it is vital to establish the event objective and to ensure that the venue can deliver and is the right ‘fit’. To be ‘mis sold’ to at this stage by an over eager events manager that may mistakenly believe that their venue and staff can supply what they want will end in disaster. For example hosting a corporate conference with a serious business element in a ‘family friendly’ leisure environment during school holidays may well have an adverse effect on the success of the conference.
Tools such as ‘Trip Advisor’ and ‘VenueVerdict’ help event organiser to properly research the venue and identify any particular strengths or weaknesses which may be addressed. Investigate any awards that the venue may hold, to identify the strengths of the venue and how this in turn may benefit the event. Awards such as Gold Standard in the Green business tourism scheme will contribute to assessing the carbon footprint of your event. Likewise venues holding awards for customer service will leave your delegates delighted.

 

From this stage on it’s up to the events manager and the client working together to ensure the success of any project. The planning is an integral part of the process. Objectives must be clear and understood by all of the parties involved.

A degree of marketing strategy in the planning process ensures that the audience (whether that be your internal or external customer) is considered fully and will be communicated to in the way in which is convenient. For example, to send out hard copy invitations and information to any delegates that may be field-based will end in catastrophe! Effective communication must exist not only prior to your event, but also during and post event to continually evaluate the event objective. ‘Goody bags’ remain a very popular part of the event: your delegates leave with a ‘momento’ and this can be a great way of ensuring that further branded material and follow up information is distributed.

Creativite and innovative ideas that will engage your audience and keep them talking about the event long after they return to the office benefit the longevity of any event. Keep things simple by inviting external professionals who can deliver those special touches such as facilitation and entertainment. This adds value and rewards delegates who have committed the time and energy to attend.

About the Author

Jilly Jones is Business Development Manager for Farncombe Conference Centre and Dormy House

on the Farncombe Estate and in her words ‘One of the most beautiful estates in the Cotswolds.’

 

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Blogspot: What Makes An Exceptional Event?

Guest Blogger: Steve Jarvis

Everyone wants their next event to be remembered for all the right reasons. In my opinion there are three distinct elements which make an event exceptional rather than simply a good event. If any of these three elements aren’t just right you can struggle for the event to run smoothly.

Choosing the right event with the right elements

It is impossible to have an exceptional event if you don’t first take care to make sure you have chosen the right event.  The very first question you should ask yourself when planning any event is what you want to achieve from the event. This might be a simple answer of we just want to have fun or it might be more complex that you are looking to hold a conference tied in with some team building which is focused on improving communication. Either way you need to know the event’s objectives before proceeding much further.

The second part of choosing the right event is making sure the event doesn’t exclude anyone. You might love running through a muddy obstacle course but the chances are some of those taking part wont and some may be unable to take part. If there is food being provided you need to take care not to exclude anyone there either. So if you want your event to be exceptional make sure you take care when selecting the events and any related elements.

Choosing the right venue

It is vital to any successful event let alone an exceptional one to make sure you choose the right venue which has the best facilities available for your budget. There can sometimes be a bewildering array of venues to choose from for your event. The scope of choice for your event will largely depend on how you answered the question in the section above.

At busy times of year the choice may be limited by other bookings which have already been booked in. To give yourself the very best choice you should try and give as much time as possible to find the right venue. It’s also worth contacting a professional venue finding service to help you see the full range of venues you have available and which would be best suited to your event. You can often find they may get a preferential rate as they book many events each year and also save you money.

Having the right people

Probably the most important of these three elements is making sure you have the right people involved in the event. If you are holding a conference you may be limited to the speakers you can use. If you are holding a team building event it is important to make sure the instructors are fully trained so you gain as much as possible out of the activities. Just like with finding the best venue it’s often wise to employ event professionals to help make your event exceptional.

Summary

So to summarise these three elements can largely be combined into making sure you plan the event properly. If the event is properly planned in detail and has the right type of events in the right location with the right people you have all of the ingredients of an exceptional event. It is important however to make sure you get as much detailed feedback from the event as possible before you can really say how good the event was.  Part of any planning process must be to plan for potential problems including things like the weather in the case of hot sunny days suddenly changing to thundery weather as it has done this week.

About the Author

Steve Jarvis work’s for Demon Wheelers who are a Sheffield based corporate events and team building company who travel throughout the UK hosting events for clients. Steve has worked in a variety of industries in teams of all shapes and sizes over a career which spans over 15 years.

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Blogspot August

So, throughout the month of August we thought it would be a good idea to allow others to write a few guest blogs for us.

While we know you avidly sit on tenter-hooks waiting for our next blog (we can but hope), we thought you wouldn’t mind others having a bit of a say about their thoughts on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to venues and events.

It’s always good to hear what others have to say on a topic and while we try to write our blogs on a regular basis, as we’ve been pretty hectic here in the office over the last few months, we’ve been unable to write as often as we’d like.

So, over the next few weeks we’ll be posting the odd guest blog here and there, with a few of our very own in between, here on our blog.

If you fancy having a say yourself or know someone who might fancy writing a few words about their experiences of events, booking venues, or simply what’s happening in the events industry, get in touch with us, we’d be happy to have you onboard.

Happy reading!

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Top Ten Tips For Planning An Outdoor Event

Top Ten Tips : Planning an outdoor event….need I say more??
Just a few ideas on things you need to consider when booking and planning an outdoor event.

1. Budget – accommodate for extra equipment if needed e.g. marquees, heaters.
2. Venue – choose an outdoor venue that will suit your event! (this may include a wet weather contingency)
3. Weather – monitor the weather to see if you’ll have to make some last minute changes!
4. Power – in a remote area, how are you going to power your event?
5. Layout – create a sketch of the venue to denote where you want everything to be.
6. Logistics – think beyond the event schedule itself!
7. Communication – walkie-talkies are a great way to stay in touch!
8. Pest control – cover food and keep bugs out by using sugary water.
9. Toilets – make sure facilities are easily accessible.
10. Clean up – make sure the area you use is left how you found it!

If you would like more detail on how to plan an outdoor event, check out or previous blog:  Summer Outdoor Events

Alternatively, if you would like some help planning your own outdoor event and don’t want the hassle of having to think about it yourself, get in touch with us at here and we’ll happily do it for you.

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Summer Outdoor Events

We’re now nearly into July, which means the start of the summer events season is already upon us!

Cannon Bridge Roof Garden

Festival season is on our doorstep with Glastonbury this weekend and other festivals already having happened, as well as the start of some of the great outdoor events that are happening in London this year, such as Brick Lane Comedy Festival. So what’s stopping you from taking your event outdoors?

The weather is too unpredictable and it’s too risky!

The weather plays a massive part in an outdoor event and living in the UK means you’re subject to unpredictable weather. Waterlogged grounds, flooding and heavy winds can cause difficulties in the preparation and breakdown of an event, as well as the implications it has to the event itself. There are ways however to make the blow of bad weather a little softer. It is very important to prioritise weather contingency into planning, so why not create a Weather Action Plan? By looking at possible weather conditions for the day(s) of event and creating an action plan for any last minute changes, you can follow it simply and effectively without running into any trouble on the day(s)!

An indoor venue seems a better option!

Holding an event outdoors can give a different feel and dimension to an event, and there are plenty of outdoor venues around the UK and further afield which can be explored! The range of outdoor venues available are from countryside gardens and fields to inner city rooftops. Hilton London Wembley is a particular favourite for city people looking to hold their event outside. On the 9th floor is SkyBar-9 which features an open-air terrace overlooking Wembley Stadium. If you’re willing to travel for your event, why not head over to Slane Castle in Ireland? The venue is popular for large and small outdoor events, with the choice of hiring the castle grounds for a small gathering or the 100,000 seated natural amphitheatre for much larger gatherings!

I don’t know what kind of catering will be suitable!

Picnic by the lake at Blenheim Palace

You may not know, but there are restrictions on the kind of food you can serve at an outdoor event. Especially during the summer when it can be humid, it is wise to look up on the hazards that certain foods can provide.. And don’t forget about insects! Food is the main attraction for pests, but with a bit of planning they are easy to tackle. Place some bowls containing sugary water in different locations of the event to keep insects at bay. If you don’t want to disrupt the elegance of an event, instead use decorative mesh lids to cover platters.

 

If you thought having an outdoor event would be challenging, you were right. However, it can easily be planned and enjoyable if correctly prepared beforehand! By having a detailed back up plan, it’s like having a safety net underneath you, and it can easily be followed and executed if anything was to go wrong at your outdoor event. Take the plunge and organise your event outdoors!

Happy Planning! 🙂

P.S If you need any help give us a call on 0844 8709963 or email us at help@top-venues.co.uk and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.

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Challenges For Event Planners In 2013 And Into 2014

Since the first recession hit in 2008, the events industry has had to adapt to the changes, for example venues have had to continue offering quality service yet acclimatise to tighter budgets. The outlook for 2013 is a little more positive, with companies predicting over the up-coming years conferences and meetings will rise to make £21.8bn in 2015, a difference to the £18.8bn in 2010!

But WAIT! We event organisers are not out of the woods yet, as we are still looking to come face to face with challenges throughout the year. So what are some of the tests are we facing?

  • Shorter lead times mixed with tighter deadlines and limited budgets.
  • Venues and suppliers reducing discounts and incentives to make up for lost money.
  • Increased focus on sustainability and environmental factors.
  • Keeping ideas fresh and new!

With these problems in mind, what can we organisers do to help ourselves?

  • Organisers can push for budgets to be signed off earlier with additional time being used effectively to source cost effective venues and suppliers.
  • Why not use good old fashioned negotiation? As well as negotiation, make sure the venue sourced can be relied on for the event needs and budget, and that can also maybe offer a bespoke package, as a thank you for your commitment!

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New unique venue to open in London!

Exploring London Underground’s ‘ghost’ stations have been very limited to just a few small tours each year. However, this is about to change as The Old London Underground Company’s founder Ajit Chambers has been given permission to open up a number of the  abandoned stations as tourist attractions and venues.

The first project being undertaken is at Down Street station, 80 years after it was closed to passengers. During the Second World War, the station was used as an underground bunker for Winston Churchill and his war cabinet. The plan is to bring back that moment in the stations history in an interactive exhibit open to all.

Another station Ajit is looking to reopen is Brompton Road, who already has plans approved to transform the station from an antique Underground to a thriving tourist attraction, including a climbing wall and a rooftop restaurant.

Not only are these two stations being bought back to live, Ajit has proposed he open a further 26, so keep your eyes peeled for these unusual new venues!

London Underground Abandonded Stations

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Event Management of Fieri’s Frontline Event

Fieri - Frontline Event

A couple of weeks ago saw Top Venues & Events undertake the running of an event called Frontline – An evening of inspiration. The event saw five men injured during their time spent in the army give motivational talks to a room full of people with the view to inspire them to be the best that they could be. Part of the money made from the event went towards the charity Walking with the Wounded but the main reason for the event was to help the injured war heroes market themselves as professional speakers and provide them with a means of living in the future.

We faced a number of challenging issues from the moment we decided to take on the organisation of the event right down till the evening of the event itself. The initial problems were largely due to the fact that this was the first time the client had done an event such as this, up until now the whole thing had just been an idea and so there was a lot riding on it going well. Having never done the event before the client didn’t know how many people were likely to attend but they had already booked the event space and chosen The Point at Old Trafford cricket ground.

In the weeks leading up to the event we had numerous meetings with the clients in order to successfully establish how they wanted the event to run. We were sent signage by them which we in turn edited and finalised and we also helped out with the marketing of the event specifically the social media aspects.

Top Events - Event Management

Thus is the nature of venues we discovered the week before that there was another event being held in that room on the same day and so we had to be moved to another room, it also meant we would only have access from a couple of hours before the event was due to start and this meant an all hands on deck approach to the preparation. In the days leading up to the event we prepared everything from floor plans to running orders to receipts and it all began to come together nicely.

On the evening of the event we welcomed the guest speakers, went through what would be happening and explained how the night would be planning out. We liaised with all the volunteers as well as our own staff and the venue staff such as the sound engineers and the caterers in order to ensure that everybody knew what they should be doing. We successfully set up the venue space in the short time we had before the doors opened and got ready for the arrival of the first guests. Over the next hour the guests arrived where they were greeted at the reception, checked in and directed to the bar where they could purchase a drink before the first speaker began. The event ran smoothly from start to finish, everything from the videos of the men in action during wartime to clips of them at the top of a mountain or flying round a velodrome. The night ended at around 11pm after a Q&A session with all five of the speakers on stage at the same time and by this point it’s safe to say that all 200 people in the room were unbelievably inspired.

The event was a complete success especially when you take into consideration that the whole thing was done with only a month’s worth of planning.  You could tell just by looking around that everybody from sponsors to guest speakers were ecstatic with how it had gone, we received this message from the client a few days after the event:

You have all been absolute stars, we cannot thank you enough for your commitment and exceptional organisational prowess. We hope to work with you again in the future.

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