I thought that in time honoured tradition I would share a round up of some of the highlights for Denise Yeats Creative Event Production in 2017. It has also seen the end of the first year of nnoodl, my new fledgling company which delivers surprise experiential events. A huge thank you to all of my clients - the charities, businesses and individuals who I have worked with this year.
I was honoured to be asked to work with the inspirational Ocean Brothers, Jude Massey and Greg Bailey, who are planning to row 3000miles across the Atlantic Ocean in January 2018. I worked with them to develop their fundraising proposition for corporate sponsors and individuals to raise £100,000 for the British Skin Foundation. I'm delighted to see their progress as they prepare for their grand departure in two weeks' time.
After a pilot event in December 2016, I held the first official nnoodl event of 2017. A team of intrepid adventurers went axe throwing, followed by a truly unique brunch at the wonderfully quirky Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. Take a look at this great slo-mo video of Cat and Bob both landing a bullseye.
I was delighted to be back working with Place2Be, the children's mental health charity to deliver their biennial Wine Dinner. This was held in Middle Temple, the perfect backdrop for such a special evening, which surpassed it's fundraising total raising vital funds to support children's mental health in schools.
It was also time for another nnoodl event, and this time we had a truly uplifting time with a singing lesson in the recently opened Grand Hall of the little known gem that is the Brunel Museum.
It was back to my homeland in June to deliver 'Ms Frontiers' in Edinburgh. MS Frontiers is an event which brings the cream of the research community together to share knowledge to stop MS, and featured some truly inspirational speakers. It was also an opportunity to use the fantastic Mansfield Traquair for the celebratory dinner.
On a note of personal achievement, I also did the Olympic distance triathlon at Dorney Lake. Having done this one for the first time in 2016, I was delighted to take 17 minutes off my previous time, to complete it in 2:54, and secure 1st place in my age group!
In July, my colleague Joe Mearns of challenge events company Greenrock, and I spent a productive day in the Peak District doing a recce for a bespoke event we were creating for the Tesco National Charity Partnership with British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. We had already built a rough framework and were now trying out some parts of the route. We had a really busy, fun day, though I had to reign Joe in at some points on his idea of a 'scramble' as I hauled myself up a cliff face and thought that we could end up with a lot of Tesco employees with a sense of humour failure.
July also saw another nnoodl event, and this time our curious adventurers were met at Victoria station and taken to Sutton in Surrey. This one had them flummoxed, and a little anxious when I said we were going to be trying our hand at beekeeping at the wonderful Mayfield Lavender! Everyone embraced it though, especially once fully suited up, and they also had an opportunity to take part in a photography tutorial and enter the Mayfield Lavender photography competition. Have a look at some of the stunning pics on their website here.
Although not work, a real highlight of the year took place in August when I took part in a recce event at the Lee Valley Park Velodrome in Stratford. This has been on my radar as a potential event venue for a while, but I never thought I would have the courage to actually cycle on it myself. Thanks to the fantastic Team Liv Giant Camden Cycling Club though, we had a team of 15 female cyclists having a go at track riding on this most iconic of Olympic venues. Far from being stuck on the bottom as I thought I would be, I LOVED this experience and was whizzing around the top of the wall, what a rush!
Continuing the cycling vibe, at the beginning of September I co-led the first overseas cycling trip for Team Liv from London to Paris. Using part of a route suggested by my colleague Joe at Greenrock, we navigated a team of 14 women to Paris via Portsmouth and Le Havre over 3 days. This was the furthest that most of the team had ever cycled (including me) and I was so proud of everyone as we took our numerous photos at the Eiffel Tower.
The next nnoodl event also happened in September and saw a group of 12 people taking part in a fencing challenge at the London School of Fencing. This is an aerobic workout and a half - I can see why the matches (bouts) only last 3 minutes. With all of that gear on it seems like a lifetime!
This was a busy month for events as we finally delivered the Tesco National Charity Partnership Survival Challenge. Ten teams of 8-10 intrepid challengers set off to navigate across the 17.5km course whilst conquering abseils, scrambles and weaselling. We had also set some special navigational challenges for them to find hidden books along the way, inspired by the crazy Barkley Marathon.
I also delivered a very special event for the MS Society. As it had been 30 years since the passing of world renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pre to MS, her former husband, Daniel Barenboim had agreed to deliver two fundraising concerts at the Royal Festival Hall with the magnificent West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. This was an outstanding success, not only culturally, but more importantly, raising over £1million for the charity.
What can I say, without a doubt the most memorable event of 2017 had to be my cycling trip with Greenrock across the Andes. Challenging weather conditions meant that the original route had to be changed twice, but our intrepid team achieved a ride which started in Salta, routed via Mendoza and ended up in the amazing Santiago. The full blog can be read in various instalments underneath this one, in the December archive folder...
My return to reality in the UK was helped by the announcement of my role as a Trustee with Women's Sport Trust. We had our introductory board meeting the day after I returned from South America and I was honoured to be in the company of such inspirational people.
The final nnoodl event of the year took place in December. Although the spirit of these events is that participants don't know what is in store for them until they turn up, on this occasion I had let them know that it was more of a celebratory event with food and drink as the overriding feel. And what better theme than South American? We had arepas, empanadas, and Peruvian soup, accompanied by Pisco sours and Micheladas to drink. The group got into the Latin spirit with some Cuban salsa lessons to the backing of the wonderful Rey Crespo and his Cuban Ensemble.
And so a new year begins. I am looking forward to working with some inspirational organisations, and also to be setting some more of my own personal challenges. Watch this space....
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.