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Conference Leeds shines light on industry champions

Conference Leeds, the conference bureau for the city of Leeds, is shining a light on the talent in the conference, events and hospitality industries in the city who have gone above and beyond their job roles during the Covid-19 pandemic with the launch of a brand new initiative; Industry Champions

As was the case across the country, venues across the city were forced to close their doors for the last 12 months due to UK lockdown measures and faced uncertainty over when business would resume as usual. Despite this, many incredible individuals from some of Leeds’ most iconic venues have surpassed expectations by exceeding in their job roles, showing great resilience and dedication and putting the needs of others above all else throughout the lockdown. 

To acknowledge the hard work, determination, selflessness and community spirit displayed, Conference Leeds called on its venue partners to nominate their industry champions. Nominations rolled in thick and fast and have been selected to be crowned as Event Industry Champions. 

Among the winners are Shaun Daniels from Northern Ballet, who was integral in the safe and organised manner in which staff and users vacated the build and collected equipment to set up new working from home environments, following the national lockdown in March 2020. He also formed part of a return-to-work team who devised new risk assessments and health and safety policies to start the gradual return of dancers, classes and administration staff. 

Similarly, when lockdown was first announced, the staff and students at Leeds Beckett University left the campus quickly with many leaving their belongings behind. The Conference and Events team at Leeds Beckett University has achieved recognition for their role in the planning and running of a system that allowed visitor collections through a dedicated online booking system. What’s more, the team were also responsible for managing 506 international students on their arrival to the UK last Autumn, as well as finding rooms for them to self-isolate in, assisting with supplying food and setting up their UK bank accounts. 

Alice Adams and Gemma Milner from Leeds City Museum and Art Gallery have been acknowledged for stepping up to make sure the wider needs of the Council were met, while developing the conference offering for the city of Leeds. Alice assisted the Coronavirus Emergency Response Team within Leeds City Council to provide emergency aid to the community during the first lockdown, which Gemma took the lead on by upgrading and rolling out a new booking and events system across Leeds Museums and Galleries, assisting training staff across all nine of its venues for the new software.

The Events & Enterprise Directorate at Leeds Conservatoire has gone above and beyond by reimagining and delivering a Covid-secure in-person induction, with continued music-making streamed performances, masterclasses and workshops both on-site and remotely. The team has displayed creativity, flair and resilience by adapting their normal working conditions to continue services and support other departments, as all teaching and learning moved online.

Claire Bloom from Leeds Crowne Plaza has also been recognised for covering a number of roles across all parts of the venue; from the Front Office and Food and Beverage, to Operations and Duty Manager Shifts, all while fulfilling her own role throughout the lockdown periods.

The Conference and Events Team at MeetInLeeds are also deserving of the Industry Champions title, as they have all worked tirelessly to support students returning to University of Leeds. From assisting self-isolating students to enhancing the welcome experience for over 800 international student arrivals across Autumn and into the New Year, the team were also responsible for running the administration of the University’s test centre, managing staff rotas and booking systems, whilst working closely with colleagues onsite to operate a well-functioning asymptomatic testing centre.

Finally, the Lockdown Team at Radisson Blu Hotel were crucial in their support of key workers, as they delivered goodie bags full of hot chocolate and brownies to hospital workers, GP surgeries and schools, and also supported Oakwood Lane Medical Centre with tea and coffee supplies since their first Pfizer vaccine clinic. The team has also rallied hotel workers in the city to volunteer at the vaccine clinics to further showcase how much Leeds Hospitality supports its frontline workers.

Claire Heap, Head of Conference Leeds said: “It has been a challenging time for all of those within the conference and events industry. We are incredibly proud of all of our Event Industry Champions, it has been fantastic to learn about the amazing contributions each champion has made over the course of the pandemic so far. These awards really showcase the calibre of professionals that make up our events industry here in the city and we look forward to seeing all of those people who work within the sector return to their normal day jobs over the coming months.”