Saturday, April 25, 2009

Awards and Presentations

A week of awards and presentations!

On Tuesday afternoon it was over to Witney for a "public" gathering regarding the "Festival for Heroes" concert application (for up to 29,999 persons to attend a one-day concert here on 20 June 2009) - a useful opportunity to present details of the event and to answer questions - or should that be - alleviate fears and concerns! The hoops surrounding such processes do seem to get more bureaucratic each year and it does lead one to fear the day when such events will become unviable due to the legislative burden and the compliance obligations. Let's hope sense prevails over time because our special events programme is vital to our long term survival - especially given the lack of any external funding support for the restoration and conservation of the Palace and its environs. It is not in our interests to run bad events - we will always strive to run events that are fully compatible - both internally with all that we strive to achieve and externally with our local community.

On Thursday it was up to York for the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence where we were shortlisted in the "Large Visitor Attraction of the Year" category - together with Harewood House in Leeds and the Science Museum in London. The awards evening was held in the impressive National Railway Museum and the host for the evening was the hilarious Michael MacIntyre who had everyone in stitches with his sharply observed take on life around England - great fun and a great talent. As we sat under the shadow of the "Winston Churchill" steam locomotive (which seems like a pretty good omen!!) we eventually ended up winning the Silver Award - of course we were gutted not to win the Gold Award (which incidentally went to Harewood House - one of our Treasure Houses colleagues - well done to them) but we were also very proud to get this close and to win such a prestigious national award. A great credit to everyone! We drank some champagne; congratulated our rivals and other winners; and vowed to return and win Gold very soon!

On Friday it was back down to Blenheim Palace to help support everyone with the Annual Heritage Awards presented by the Duke to various schools and school children in recognition of their amazingly talented work submissions which are received by the Education Department following their school visits to Blenheim Palace. This is a wonderful event which the Duke clearly thoroughly enjoys - and to see the pride displayed through Head Teachers, Teachers and Parents is fantastic as their children go up to receive their awards from the Duke. These awards epitomise everything good about Blenheim Palace - it is such a wonderful resource for all ages and the quality of work produced is outstanding - Blenheim clearly reaches them all so strongly and inspires such vision and creativity in their work. Well done to Karen Wiseman and Antonia Kearney (our highly talented Education team) and to all of the Guides and Operations staff who work so hard for this big day in their calendar. It was a great success all round - and the yummy tea was demolished - hardly a chocolate brownie in sight - but I do hope that children were not being sick in the back of cars as they were driven home!!

Tonight sees the annual Churchill Memorial Concert in the Palace with around 200 people attending - the address this year will be given by Sir Christopher Meyer (former British Ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2003 and currently Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission) - hopefully once again this high profile event will raise good money for lots of worthy local causes.

Fox move on site on Sunday for three weeks filming activity with "Gullivers Travels" - should be fun but operationally challenging!

Numbers have stayed strong through the week and April is beating all records as our "Buy One Day - Get 12 Months Free!" campaign continues to connect strongly - all looks promising but then it is raining this morning - the weather always has the ability to "dampen" our enthusiasm and remind us that it can all be too fragile!

Hopefully the blue sky and sunshine will re-appear very soon - together with our smiles!

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