Imagine my delight to be approached by SPATA Ltd, The Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association, to host the British Pool & Hot Tub Awards for 2020, taking place on Tuesday 28th January.
A highlight in the calendar for this incredible industry that sees so many leading companies and brands come together to celebrate their hard work and achievements over the last year and beyond. This one in particular was a brand-new event for me to look after, and I always have a nervous excitement when stepping into the unknown for the first time. After all, I’m meeting new people, new procedures and an unknown quantity of personalities, professionalism and expectations. Nether-the-less, this is what I love to do for a living and helping people achieve their greatest results for such special occasions is my forte!
Pre-event nerves are actually really good, whether you are organising, hosting or performing. Why? Because it usually means you have a heightened adrenalin, which indeed helps you become alert and on-point, and subsequently helps with an energised and focused delivery.
Arriving early, for a late afternoon run-through, I was greeted by the rather warming Jan who, along with colleagues, quickly made me feel welcome and at ease. Showing me the ‘greenroom’ (a relaxing, dining and changing private area that is shared with other artists) I soon had my items placed safely and securely, and also in the knowing of having a comfortable breakout space. Not every event has this, but gratefully, this event did.
Now settled, I could run through the script, 41 pages in all, and liaise with the event organisers and technicians regarding our collective delivery of the evenings schedule and awards ahead. Run-through complete, expectations now clarified, the stage set and tech almost to my liking, I could unwind and interact with other artists in the greenroom prior to me being needed onstage later. I duly changed into my evenings black tie dinner dress-code shortly before doors opened.
As guests arrived, I circulated and said hello to various groups, which often helps with building a repour and gives me insight into the different types of people, personalities and energy in the room. As everybody had dinner I retired to the greenroom to eat mine (sometimes I get to sit with the guests and dine on the set menu too) but I’m happy either way, and it can be novel to indulge with other performers and interact backstage. We were treated to a very well-made Chicken Curry (or vegetarian if so desired), accompanied by rice and mixed salad, a stunning and very light ‘bread and butter’ pudding with Devonshire custard and a range of hot and cold beverages that were beautifully presented to us by our own member of hospitality staff. I can say we were treated like very special guests and made to feel appreciated and comfortable, before delivering our required performances.
Closer to the awards I ventured out into the room and awaited my introduction onto the stage. The room full of beautifully dressed people all attentively looking stage front and hanging on my every movement, action and word. I love that immediate opportunity to engage; delivering warmth, energy and clarity with immense passion. I ran through a long list of awards, inviting a collection of; sponsors, incredible winners, and runners up, to the stage for photographs, awards and a handshake while I also integrate with video screens, sound and light. There were many fabulous guests in attendance, including; Gold Medallist Olympic Diver, Jack Laugher MBE, who interreacted and delivered with pride. Prior, and after the awards, we were able to have a good chat, planning his requirements beforehand and also reflecting on the delivery afterwards. As it happened, we had some technical issues during the main awards, which we hadn’t experienced during the rehearsal.
They always say a good presenter comes into their own when something goes wrong and I certainly didn’t fail to deliver! During the giving of awards, the sound, including microphones, completely went off, no power at all. As the tech team quickly tried to locate and rectify the issue I am stood on stage thinking, do I go on or do we wait? I knew it was a very tight schedule. The organiser explains that the amp has gone that powers what we need to make it work and tech are trying to address it asap. I ask him whether he wants me to continue without the sound system? His eyes said it all, with thanks and admiration for my efforts to continue, and quickly said, yes please Phil ,do try! That’s all I needed, I quickly jumped back into action apologising for the issue and informing the audience that tech was doing their best, but we’d continue anyway. People cheered, and I went on to raise my voice, fill the room with clarity, and take extra effort to ensure everything was repeated by myself as it happened on stage. The sound issue came and went three times, as the amp came on and quickly died again. I involved the crowd, who each time cheered and applauded as we shared that journey together. Overall, we delivered a really successful awards presentation and didn’t allow small issues, or what may have been big to some, phase us in the slightest. The show needed to go on and it did!
After the presentation awards, and the raffle that I also co-hosted with Jack Laugher MBE, we were able to reflect and appreciate what we’d pulled off. I was grateful that many movers and shakers of this incredible industry took time to come and show warming thanks for pulling off such success for their event, under potentially difficult circumstances. I take pride in knowing that my clients have bought into professionalism and it’s my job to ensure the show runs as smoothly as possible, although they cannot foresee every eventuality, we had succeeded in a time of duress. I must say that this isn’t a usual occurrence but as a consummate professional you have to be prepared for anything and not fall apart.
I really enjoyed this incredible event and find myself grateful that following the success of its execution, I was immediately invited to host again for 2021. Of which I quickly answered, yes!
Thank you to all of the teams that worked together to ensure a wonderful evening that ensured everybody had a good time.
I look forward to seeing everyone again in 2021!