The University of Birmingham | Conferences & events team were delighted to provide the setting for the Pride of Birmingham Awards 2018, on Thursday 8th March.
These regional heats for the main Pride of Britain event, to be held in November and televised by ITV, acknowledge individuals who are truly remarkable. They have been nominated by friends, family and colleagues for a single act of great courage, a long-term battle with an inestimable challenge, or inspirational campaigning work to support others.
With a guest list of 268 celebrities and ordinary heroes, the team were determined to give the nominees an appropriately glamorous evening. The impressive Great Hall entrance was transformed with a red carpet, ready for the gathered journalists and photographers to give them their complete attention.
The marble rotunda was uplit with purple, the charity’s colour, and readied for a wonderful reception.
The ceremony was hosted by Coronation Street star Kym Marsh, and opened with a rousing performance from X Factor’s Fleur East. The grand stage was purpose-built for the occasion, with a ramp to ensure all could easily access it, and a stunning wide video screen backdrop (provided by an external supplier) to give the whole night a Hollywood glow.
But, of course, the real stars of the show were the winners. Recipients included Linda Sandhar-Haynes, whose charity 4 Steps to a Smile has brought Christmas gifts and cheer to families escaping domestic violence for 14 years; Birmingham dad Anwar Khattak, who set up the Birmingham Youth Sport Academy to help young people keep active at weekends; and Jane Sutton, who has continued the fundraising mission begun by her son Stephen with his viral ‘bucket list’.
A Lifetime Achievement award went to Cyrille Regis, the pioneering black footballer, prompting the entire audience to sing ‘Nice one, Cyrille’ as one. The award was collected by his family.
Behind the scenes of this spectacle, a team was hard at work making the magic happen – invisibly to the invited guests. Preparation began to 5am, to create the stage and screen area. At 9am, the process of setting up lighting and audio began. From 12, the table set up inside began, with the University of Birmingham | Conferences & events catering team on site from 1pm. The red carpet was unfurled at 2.30pm. By 5.45pm, all staff were in position, with sparkling wine, beer and orange juice ready for the doors to open at 6pm.
The bespoke three-course dinner selected featured a starter of beetroot three ways, followed by a choice of chicken with a white wine and tarragon jus, or a cheddar, leek and shallot pie. Dessert was summer pudding with mascarpone cream, fruit compote and a raspberry coulis.
After the awards, the after-party continued to 1am, with a host of taxis ready and waiting. Then the team embarked on the de-rig process. By 3am, the Great Hall was returned to its simple grandeur, ready to be used again the following day.