Meet the people behind Cheshire’s biggest summer events
PUBLISHED: 16:33 31 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:41 21 October 2015
What’s it like to have a key role in one of Cheshire’s big summer events? Cheshire Life writers chat to people organising some of our major celebrations
Name: Nina Barbour
My Job: President of Bolesworth International, Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall
When: June 18th – 21st
About me: I’ve been doing this for eight years as well as looking after the Bolesworth Estate, which has been my family home for over 150 years. The event has grown a lot in that time. I have always loved horses and show jumping and to be able to put an event like this on at Bolesworth is incredibly satisfying!
How I make it happen: I spend a lot of time going to show jumping and equestrian events around Europe networking with other riders as well as potential sponsors. We currently have a four star event, which is based on the prize fund you have, and we have ambitions to have a five star event by 2017. Talented riders from all over the world come to compete at Bolesworth International. We are also lucky to have high profile supporters like Jodie Kidd, Alastair Stewart, Mike Bushell and rising show jumping star Will Whitaker.
We also have plenty of other family events including a Gladiators knockout competition this year with some of the stars of the show including Hunter and Saracen. There are music acts performing, too, including Scouting for Girls.
There is pressure and it takes a lot of planning to bring it all together. At times it is stressful and it feels like it’s never going to come together. But being there when it actually happens it great fun and it is worth any worries there may be in the run-up. Mostly, though, it is a lot of fun to organise.
We want Bolesworth International to be up there with the other top shows you have at Olympia and in Paris. I really think it’s achievable.
Name: Nigel Evans
My Job: Executive director of the Cheshire Agricultural Society, which runs the Cheshire County Show, Tabley
When: June 23-24
About me: I used to work for the Wildlife Trust, but after completing a big project for them I saw this job advertised so I just went for it. I have an operational focus, which is the hub of the whole show. It’s a brilliant job and I really enjoy it. But even after ten years I still have an annual fear that nobody will turn up on the first day!
How I make it happen: We commence planning for the next show straight after closing one. I get a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps have a holiday, but then it’s straight onto planning the next year. Organising the show is definitely not a one-man operation; we’re a massive jigsaw of council members, directors, sub-committees and volunteers. It’s a very strong team and everyone is passionate about the County Show, which is what makes it work. It’s funny as some people think I only work for two days a year!
We start to book in the trade stands from November to around April. With 700 trade stands all of a different variety on the site across the two days, from motorcars and tractors to sunglasses and gardening equipment, it’s a lengthy process. I then have to think about who I would like to have in the main ring. We’re decided that the Bolddog Ling FMX display team will be returning again this year after being so popular in the 2014 show.
Tickets go on sale before Christmas and in January the team get busy designing programmes and pulling together competition schedules. It’s a huge task as we have to include animals from guinea pigs to horses as well as produce, such as cheese and wine. The 90 judges for these are then selected from all over the country and we book them into local B&B’s and hotels for the duration of the show, to support the local Cheshire economy.
Contractors are on site around this time too, to see what needs to be built in terms of marquees, toilets, security, catering and fast food outlets. We actually go on site from June 1 to set up and then soon enough the whole thing snowballs into a huge village. When the first day arrives, it’s a brilliant feeling. I get a great thrill to see it populated by so many people enjoying themselves and the competitors looking proud. As the largest event in Cheshire and the biggest agricultural show in the North West, there is something for everyone. The saddest part is at 5pm on the Wednesday when the life of the show starts to ebb out, but soon enough we will start up again for the next year!
Name: Kris Hulewicz
My Job: Show manager of RHS Flower Show, Tatton Park, Knutsford
When: July 22-26
About me: I started working at the RHS over 32 years ago. But I became show manager in 2004 and this year will be my tenth RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park.
How I make it happen: We start to think about a show over a year in advance because we want to invite potential designers, gardeners and sponsors to the current show so they can get a good look around. It also takes at least one year to organise some gardens, especially if they are expensive.
Autumn is the time other applications are open for submission, including the Young Designer of the Year award. The best six entries are then selected by a panel in January and are invited to an interview in London. We then select the final three who are given a grant of £12,000 each to build their designs ready for July.
At RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, we really like locals to get involved and this year we will have 18 school gardens. I visit the schools to talk to the teachers about their gardens. It’s a great educational and fun process for pupils.
Hundreds of contractors are involved in putting RHS Tatton together as it is on open parkland. At the end of June we go on site constructing roads, fences, installing water pipes and electricity – there’s a huge effort required. When it’s all finished and open on the first day it’s just amazing. This show is for the people of the North West and my favourite aspect is putting people and gardens together. There’s so much happiness and wellbeing associated with gardening for individuals and their families.
Name: Jonathan Richards
My job: I organise the Garden Theatre Season at Gawsworth Hall in Macclefield. The Hall is owned by the Richards family and every year since 1969 it has been the backdrop to this open air event which this year includes shows from Russell Watson, Jasper Carrot, Joan Armatrading and Ken Dodd.
When?: July 2 - August 21
About me: I am a member of the Richards family who own and run the hall. The theatre started in 1969 when my grandfather put a Shakespeare play on at the hall - so we are older than the Glastonbury festival! The Hall has an association with Shakespeare as it was built by the Fittons and Mary Fitton is considered to be the ‘Dark Lady’ of the Bard’s sonnets.
How I make it happen: We are a small team here, we do all the bookings, liaise with all the acts and although we each have our area of expertise we don’t have roles. I’m 39 so I’m interested in acts which appeal to a younger audience and there’s always Shakespeare because of the natural connection with Mary Fitton. We also engage with the technical side of it - all sorts of things the audience don’t see. We are constantly planning the festival so if an act says they’d like to come in 2016 we can take an instant decision on that. Joan Armatrading who appears this year has been before. She was charmed by the venue and we are very pleased to see her again. As soon as the season has finished we start looking ahead to the next.
Name: Chris Keene
My Job: Organiser of Headlander Festival, Stockport Rugby Club, Bramhall
When: June 20th -21st
About me: I’ve worked as an operations director in food manufacturing but I’ve always liked music. For over ten years myself and a friend, Mike Drew, ran Live at the Marquee at Stockport Rugby Club, which was successful but eventually it ran its course. We I took a two-year break to come up with ideas for a new format and the Headlander Festival was it. This is our third year and people call it a ‘mini Glastonbury’.
How I make it happen: Planning for Headlander Festival starts in the previous August or September. When you are dealing with well-known acts you need to give them notice before they start to get booked up. As well as the main event which will include headline acts like Roachford and From the Jam, it is a popular family event. We have everything from jazz, blues, rock and folk music on four stages as well as lots of other things to do.
We’re doing some pre-events, too, this year in Stockport to boost the town centre. The proceeds from the event go back to Stockport Rugby Club who support 300 children in 14 different teams. We also donate money to local charities.
Seeing it all come together is a massive thrill for all of us. We are very busy on the weekend it happens and hopefully we get to see some of the acts. But the most important, exciting thing is the money we raise. To know that those funds support local charities as well as those sports teams is fantastic.
Name: Rachael Miller
My job: Events Manager for the Forestry Commission, England organiser of Forest Live, Delamere Forest
When? July 3-5
About me: I started work with the Forestry Commission nine years ago and was lucky to apply for the role two years later. I am now involved in organising the annual Forest Live gigs, which include those held in Delamere Forest.
The concerts have been going for about 15 years now and the ones at Delamere are the most atmospheric. There’s a forest backdrop all around the area which creates a natural amphitheatre and that means everyone gets a good view of the stage. All the money from the concerts goes back into protecting the forest, so what we get from Delamere stays in Delamere. It’s great too that so many artists want to support us. Paloma Faith enjoyed 2013 so much she wanted to come back as support the festival this year.
How I make it happen: We decide the acts as a group but I look after all the different aspects of staging a concert, the stage, power, lighting, sound system. I make sure there’s car parking, the right number of bars and cafes and I also work on marketing and promotion. I provide support for colleagues on a local level too. Staff usually work on a different role throughout the year and then come and help out at the concerts over the weekend. I also work with contractors. it’s a very professional operation.