The 28 July was a special day in the University’s calendar. Not only did it mark one year to go until we play our role in bringing the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to life, but it was also the day that our newest venue made its debut.
On 23 July, we received the keys to The Exchange, our brand-new event, exhibition and meeting space in Birmingham’s vibrant city centre. Less than a week later, it opened its doors for the very first time to host a very special event: a reception for Birmingham 2022 and Commonwealth Games England stakeholders.
The reception was a part of a series of events in the city centre to commemorate the Games’ 1 Year to Go milestone. As well as giving the public a taste of what to expect next year, the Centenary Square celebrations gave Birmingham a chance to showcase the very best of the West Midlands for the first time, including some of the University’s own facilities and expertise.
Celebrating Birmingham’s best
With more than 100 guests in attendance – including the Commonwealth Games Federation, Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee, Team England athletes, sponsors and members of the local sports community – hosting an event that everyone could engage with was crucial.
The reception opened with speeches from senior representatives from Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Games England, before the stage was set for an exciting Q&A session with a very special guest panel.
Sporting superstars and Hometown Heroes. From left to right: Gail Emms MBE; Alex Danson MBE; Kelly Petersen-Pollard; Dave Heeley OBE, also known as ‘Blind Dave’; and Haseebah Abdullah.
Gail Emms MBE led the event, where guests had the opportunity to hear from internationally celebrated athlete Alex Danson MBE, as well as rising Judo star Kelly Petersen-Pollard, and members of Birmingham 2022’s Hometown Heroes programme who have dedicated their lives to grassroots sport.
Local sporting legend Dave Heeley OBE shared his inspiring story as a blind marathon runner, whilst Haseebah Abdullah – the first boxing coach in England to wear a hijab – discussed the importance of championing women in sport. Afterwards, attendees mingled over a light breakfast buffet before soaking up the atmosphere in Centenary Square and trying their hand at some of the sports to feature in the Games.
When it comes to hosting sporting superstars, Hometown Heroes and some of the Games’ most influential people, every little detail needs to be perfect. Thankfully, our experienced event coordinators were on hand to ensure the reception was seamless from start to finish.
The team oversaw the complete management of the event, working in partnership with the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee to deliver an unforgettable celebration. Our AV specialists made sure that the acoustics and staging were just right so that the Games’ key messages could be delivered with impact, whilst our in-house catering team supplied light refreshments to fuel a busy day of networking and entertainment.
“1 year to go was a significant milestone for Birmingham 2022, so it was important we had the right setting for this celebration, especially as it was the first time we could hold an in-person event. Not only is The Exchange a spectacular building but the Conferences & events team helped to ensure the event was delivered in line with our objectives and COVID-19 protocol.” – Alastair Henderson, Head of Sponsor Services at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth
Bringing people together in the heart of the city
It’s not just the expertise of a team that makes an event – the venue is just as important. And when it came to finding a venue suitable for one of the city’s biggest events, The Exchange was an obvious choice.
Formerly Birmingham Municipal Bank’s HQ, this beautiful Grade II listed building has sat at the centre of Birmingham’s civic centre for over 100 years. Therefore, it was fitting for such a landmark to play an important role in the city’s next chapter. But it wasn’t just The Exchange’s status as one of the city’s most prestigious buildings that made it ideal.
The 1 Year to Go Stakeholder Reception had two key objectives: to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to network, collaborate and build relationships; and engage, inform and inspire guests about the Games. The event was all about bringing people together, which is exactly what The Exchange has been designed to do.
Boasting floors of unique meeting and communal spaces, The Exchange will be a hub for collaboration, creativity and celebration for everyone to enjoy when it opens fully this October. From connecting people with the University’s cutting-edge research to displaying the talents and skills of the West Midlands and its residents, this impressive venue will play an important role in shaping the region’s future.
As a venue that aims to put Birmingham firmly on the map, there was no better place to celebrate the countdown to the Games that will showcase the West Midlands on the global stage.
Eager to find out more about The Exchange? Contact us today to discover how this unique venue can transform your next event in Birmingham.