Autumn round-up: remembering a legend and celebrating new talent

October was always going to be a busy month and would have been more so had it not been for the postponement of one of our major events in November. Instead I've been working with BAFTA on two projects of very different scales.

Lord Attenborough, or Dickie as he was affectionately known, sadly died in summer 2014 and two years on I was honoured to work with his son, Michael Attenborough CBE, to deliver a celebration gala in his memory. During his lifetime and amongst numerous accolades, awards and positions, Lord Attenborough was President of both Chelsea FC and BAFTA. The two organisations worked in partnership to host the event at Stamford Bridge, bringing together the worlds of film and football.

With special guest appearances and messages from the likes of Great British names such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Dame Penelope Wilton and Lawrence Dallaglio (a combination I never thought I would see in one room!), the evening also featured a Q&A with actors Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey, James Bond), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, Meet the Kumars) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey).

After dinner entertainment saw us bringing Jersey Boys across from the West End, with an after-party at Chelsea's music venue and club, Under The Bridge (where both Olly Murs and Mel C had played earlier in the week). Aside from the delicious food and top-class entertainment, most special of all were the beautiful montages of Dickie's work and the loving tributes from his family and friends. All of the money raised on the evening was in support of the Richard Attenborough Charitable Trust. 

Just five days later, BAFTA celebrated the fourth Breakthrough Brits in partnership with Burberry. The initiative saw 18 new stars taking part in a programme under the guidance of mentors who are leaders in their field. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of Burberry's flagship UK store on Regent's Street, over 350 guests joined us for champagne and canapés and the awards announcement, which was hosted by Radio One's Greg James.

Citation readers for the event included Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, An Education), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) and Joanne Frogatt (Downton Abbey, Street Cat Named Bob). The ceremony is delivered by BAFTA's brilliant Production and Learning and New Talent teams.

The evening was also an opportunity for BAFTA to showcase its work to those who have the potential to support with significant financial gifts and enable us to continue to support emerging talent. Burberry generously hosted an intimate dinner after the main event at the in-store cafe, Thomas's, with beautiful floral arrangements provided by Rebel Rebel. 

And the last event of the month? Being there as my best friend married her man - congratulations Beth and Rob! 

The basics

Dress code: smart and elegant

What we ate: lobster and chips, beef Wellington and millionaire's shortbread

What we drank: Nyetimber

Fully immersed: the rising popularity of experiential events

For years I've been reading Event Magazine's articles on experiential and immersive events delivered by corporate brands across the world. And last week, I read with excitement as Save the Children received national coverage for their Forced to Flee event.

Having worked on Ark's immersive event Ark by Night since 2014, I often speak to charities who are also keen to do something different. In recent years, I’ve seen a shift away from the often very costly traditional gala dinner and a move towards something that better reflects the work that they do. In order to truly bring their work to life, charities need more than a three-minute film or a compelling speech to get their mission across.

From my work as Chair of the Special Events Forum for the charity sector, I’ve become aware of a whole host of innovative and unusual events, breaking the mould of the traditional fundraising dinner and dance - from the DEC taking guests on a journey to demonstrate how they take action in emergency situations to the Royal Opera House hosting guests for behind-the-scenes experiences.

It’s long been a bugbear of mine that the charity sector is seen as a cardigan-wearing, risk averse and boring place to work – with 10 years in the sector, I can confidently say that this is far from the truth. And perhaps you'll be lucky enough to get an invitation to one of these events in the future so that you can see for yourself...