- 12 Apr 2011

Welcome to light sunny evenings and royal celebrations


Well here we are in the new financial year with all the tax changes for us as personal taxpayers and businesses. Many of us will have forgotten about the extra National Insurance that was planned during the last administration but will surely notice it by the time we get paid at the end of the month. This plus the VAT increase to 20% and the looming cuts in tax credits and changes in excise duties on alcohol have left us all feeling poorer. Clients are looking for greater value and better deals whilst suppliers strive to meet those challenges in a marketplace with lots of capacity and less business as the public sector continues to leave a hole in revenues for many businesses and so far that hole not having been sufficiently replaced by the private sector, if it ever will be.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as the nation gets Royal Wedding Fever and gears up to celebrate the marriage of Prince William on 29th when most if us will also benefit from an extra day off. Located in the heart of Westminster as we are, you can feel the build up to this great event happening all around. The other night as I stood outside the Westminster Arms in Storey’s Gate enjoying the first warm sunny evening of 2011 and wondering by how much a pint had gone up after the budget in what must be already one of London’s most expensive pubs, I noticed that the TV camera platforms had already erected opposite Westminster Abbey as they have in front of Buckingham Palace and other preparation are taking place apace as we get nearer to the big day. Whether you’re a monarchist or not, you’ve got to say thanks for extra days off! We have our own wedding here at One Great George Street the very next day. This year has proven to be a record for our wedding business, probably encouraged by the royal event.
While we are on the Royal Family, Prince Philip was here for dinner two weeks back. I was amazed at how sprightly and upright he is at almost 90 years old. His Royal Highness is an Honorary Member of the Smeatonian Society which was founded in 1771 by John Smeaton and some of his professional acquaintances and is the oldest engineering society in the world. HRH is also the longest serving Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, our parent organisation and as such has been a regular visitor to our premises for over half a century.

Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

- 10 Feb 2011

Kate & Wills Westminster Wedding

Hello everyone,

You are no doubt pleased like me that Spring has finally arrived and the evenings are much lighter.

To add to my general mood lift, the countdown to the much anticipated Royal Wedding is well underway! I read in the press recently that it is to be viewed by in excess of 1 billion people around the world. I remember too clearly the wedding day of The Prince of Wales in 1981. At the time, I was working for Government Hospitality, part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we were organising a lunch at the Bank of England, hosted by the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher for overflow wedding guests from the wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral. On the very same day we also organised a reception for 800 wedding guests in the evening at Banqueting House. I had never seen so many crowned heads in one place at the same time and remember the late Princess Grace of Monaco and Nancy Reagan arriving only minutes before the end of the function as if they were in competition to be the last to arrive. What was really perfect too was seeing the Prince and Princess of Wales drive through Horseguards Arch which is immediately in front of Banqueting House as they journeyed in an open top carriage on the way to the station to set off on their honeymoon.

Although it was unfortunate to have to work on such a momentous day, lets face it, I too would have liked to join in the evening street parties myself. However with our offices based in a Grade I listed house in Carlton Gardens overlooking The Mall we were right in the ‘thick of the action’ and given the work we were doing we managed to probably to see more than many others that were not at work.

Anyway, 30 years on and with a bit of luck, I may just be able to enjoy this momentous occasion from the comfort of an arm chair at home as I am fortunate to have a very able and experienced team who will be running the events and weddings over that weekend as we allocate a dedicated Event Co-ordinator to every event.

I recently supported our Sales and Marketing team with a photoshoot and updating the content of our website’s Private and Fine Dining pages where I tried to influence and capture the spirit of our great venue and ability to host superb corporate hospitality functions. The Sales team tell me that they have had a number of enquiries already for celebration canape and drinks receptions on the actual day of the wedding, private screenings and to act as a back of house base for news stations and media companies. Our Storey’s Gate entrance, with a clear view to Westminster Abbey is literally under a minute’s walk away. If you would like to see my stab at marketing speak, you may wish to take a look at our updated Private and Fine Dining pages by clicking on either or both of these links.

Very exciting times ahead, really looking forward to the 29 April 2011. It is going to be a day to be remembered for some time.

Perry

- 10 Feb 2011

Eclipse Presentations appointed at OGGS


Being well into the New Year already, I can hardly believe that it is mid February already.

The 3 month competitive tendering process for the letting of the new 5 year Audio Visual contract finally came to a close on the 31st of January 2010. There were 3 good, albeit different bids each with pros and cons and evaluating each bid in great detail led to Eclipse Presentations taking the lead. Eclipse Presentations have been around for 21 years providing audio visual solutions both in the UK and overseas.

Seven years ago they started to set up their venue partnership service both as sole and preferred suppliers and are now on-site at over 18 leading London area venues.

In case you think my hair has grown really long since Christmas, the photo above is clearly not of myself. Let me introduce you to Martin Devenport, Eclipse Technical Services Manager who has been based here at OGGS for 5 years and supported by two other long serving team members, Terry Corrie and Ferenc Nagy.

For the larger productions, Martin and his team are able to call on the services of Eclipse’s outside production team that are able to advise and create tailored solutions and production services based on their already expert knowledge of the building.

There is never a dull moment in my role as Events Manager, with so many events booking at the last minute these days, it helps to know that we can rely on the back up of a large and well established provider such as Eclipse. During the heavy snow period at the back of last year for example, we took an all day meeting booking after midday. It was due to start at 9am the very next day and some delegates were not able to get here due to the flight chaos. Martin immediately contacted Geneva to advise and coordinate the video conferencing requirements at both ends.

Anyway, much as I have enjoyed updating this blog, better get on with the day job and deal with some bookings.

Keep your eyes peeled as I plan to post another blog on Kate and Wills’s decision to ‘tie the knot’ quite literally on our doorstep in the near future. Exciting times for Westminster.

Perry

- 22 Dec 2010

Douglas Oakervee celebrates in style



It’s been a really busy time as usual for me and the team in the run up to Christmas. Last friday, three eminent fellows of the Institution of Civil Engineers (OGGS is the headquarters building of the ICE) collected their CBEs from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. This momentous occasion happened to coincide with the 70th birthday of Douglas Oakervee (ICE President 2003).

Douglas’s celebrations culminated in a lavish, 7-course themed, fine dining dinner here at One Great George Street. Doug was very well respected by those of us that were around in the team during the time of his presidency. He is fondly remembered for his approachable nature, ‘down to earth’ manner and close links with OGGS due to his time as a non-executive Director on the board of Thomas Telford Limited (TTL is the commercial arm of the Institution of which OGGS is a part).

Naturally, this was one event that we particularly wanted to go well! Myself, Shelley (Fine dining/themed events specialist) and David Wilkinson (Exec Chef) planned every detail with Mrs Oakervee.

The 19 honoured guests were welcomed into our Council Room, which looked particularly stunning with its wood pannelled walls, fireplace, candles, crystal chandeliers and flowers.

Chef really pushed the boat out with this menu! The star course of the night was the miniature Beef Wellington made with Kobe beef. I must say, the morsel I was priviledged to taste in the kitchen was spectacular. Clearly a cow with a diet of sake, beer and corn with the the odd massage thrown in works wonders for the taste and tenderness, if you can afford it!

Shelley worked with Mrs Oakervee on theming ideas to tie in with Douglas’s long association with Hong Kong. Singapore orchids were specially arranged, oriental fans flown in all the way from Hong Kong featuring Herons (longevity) and dragons (Mr and Mrs Oakervee’s were both born in the year of the dragon) and an oriental gong was used to announce dinner. Chef wheeled in the cake with much ceremony accompanied by Chinese flaming candles while guests merrily sang happy birthday.
All in all, another successful event at OGGS, but certainly one I will remember for some time. Only two more days to go before I break up for Christmas, looking forward to the break.

Very merry Christmas and Happy New year to all!

Perry

- 10 Nov 2010

Welcome to Perry’s Blog

Hi

I’m Perry Simmonds, Events Manager at One Great George Street. I’ve been working at OGGS for over 12 years now and in the industry generally for many more. As well as managing the team that co-ordinates our events and weddings I also manage the AV contract.

This site is designed to give you an in-depth look into the running of events from a venue perspective as well as audio visual products and other services.

I hope to keep your interest by updating you regularly on topics and features such as advice on running a successful event, getting best value for money, AV products and services and much more.

Check back here often for pictures and articles highlighting some of the aspects of our conference facilities.

Also, please let me know what else would you like to hear about.

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