Director's Blog - 25th May 2012
As many of you will no doubt have read in the Yorkshire Post (or on this websites ‘latest news’) we are running TWO DAYS OF CROSS COUNTRY this year due to a phenomenal entry. Whether this entry is as a result of the poor weather earlier in the eventing season or the Olympics I’m not sure, but I suspect that it’s a combination of both.
Since the decision was taken to run the CIC3* Cross Country on Sunday my whole team and I have been busily working through the associated logistics. It’s amazing what needs to happen to put on another day’s cross country, from fence judges, to crossing stewards, more toilets and litter pickers to keeping the PA system live and ordering another 300 packed lunches. This is all on top of what is a very busy month in an ‘ordinary year’.
Aside from the challenge putting on another days Cross Country presents, everything else in the build-up has been going well. The wet weather that has caused so many other Events so much trouble has thus far helped us: the Park is looking magnificent, the rain has ensured a good covering of grass and this year rather than spending 18 hours a day watering the Cross Country Course the Estate Maintenance team have had two tractors and gang mowers working overtime. Although somewhat ironically, in such a wet year, we started watering the Cross Country Course on Wednesday! This is to keep it in absolutely tip top condition, ready for the competitors to run in just a little over two weeks’ time (not very long!).
Ian Stark has designed another wonderful Cross Country Course, which has some fantastic questions for the competitors this year – I can’t wait to see some of their faces when they see one combination in particular! But I’ll say no more about that for the moment, you’ll just have to come and see it all for yourself.
We have also been busy in the Park keeping up with routine general repairs and maintenance but a big and exciting project over the winter has been repairing the Ha ha, that surrounds the gardens, and what the men have completed so far looks excellent. Also, the T-Pond that has leaked for many years has been repaired; this was a mammoth task over the winter months moving several thousand tonnes of clay by tractor and trailer in and out of the beautiful gardens. The full pond looks magnificent, and you could hardly tell the contractors had been into the gardens!
More specifically to the Horse Trials; new arena rails have been put up around the Equi-Trek Arena because the old ones had seen better days and were looking quite ‘drunk’...
As ever we are incredibly grateful to our wonderful sponsors, without whom, the Event could not take place. Many of our sponsors such as British Horse Feeds, Bishop Burton College, Carter Jonas, Dickinson Dees, Tuffa Boots, Welcome to Yorkshire and Yorkshire Post are returning whilst we have some new sponsors this year in the form of Harringtons Dog Food, Horse & Hound, Stormtech and Volvo.
There are many other companies involved beyond these few that I have mentioned and we are grateful to each and every one. We are very excited that so many companies, big and small, continue to be involved with the Horse Trials and are always thrilled to see partnerships blossom over the years.
One partnership that has really blossomed over the years is that with Equi-trek, our Title Sponsors for 2012, who when they first started sponsoring at Bramham only employed a small number of people and produced around 125 horseboxes a year, now they manufacture over 2,200 horseboxes a year and employ 140 staff. A great success story from a Yorkshire company and its fantastic to have them associated with such a great Yorkshire Event.
With today’s glorious sunshine I am looking forward to this year’s Event (7th to 10th June) hugely, but as always, with quite a large degree of trepidation as well! I’m also looking forward to July, not only for the Olympics but because Beth and I are off to the French Alps for a week’s mountain biking – which should be amazing and a great break before my summer gets busy again with preparations for the Leeds Festival.
As I think I have ably proved: I am rubbish at updating my blog! However I am now much more regular on Twitter (@bramhampark). Laura runs Facebook, whilst I try and look after Twitter, and as such I would recommend following us on Facebook and Twitter as they really are the best ways to keep up to date with all of the latest goings on. 25/05/2012 11:05:26
Tickets are still available to book in advance, but only until our booking office closes on Monday 28th May at 4pm. If you book in advance you not only save £5/day in parking charges but you are automatically entered into a free prize draw to win the value of your booking back in full.
Director's Blog - 25th August 2011
For all of those who entered our popular photo competition the winner has today been announced as Guy Pulleyn from Wigginton near York with his great photo of Kai Rueder riding Saaten Unions Charly Weld. Well done Guy! It was so difficult to choose a winner this year with so many great photos to choose from, but we hope to use as many photos as we can from the competition in the program and also the booking leaflet: keep your eyes peeled next year to see if your photo made it into the program somewhere!
I seem to have been very busy so far in August, and this coming weekend is just about to get a whole lot busier because it’s the Leeds Festival! The ‘early birds’, who pay a small premium to be allowed on site a day early have arrived today. So added to the noise of almost continual vehicle movements, we have 20,000 very excited voices in the Park pitching camp. The next few days will be a whirlwind for me, and I’ll probably not even know what day it is until around next Tuesday once the revellers have all gone home and the tidy up commences in earnest. The sun has been shining today, and hopefully the weather will be kind over the next few days.
I mentioned being busy this month, and think we have been away somewhere almost every weekend. We had a fantastic trip to Gatcombe and a thoroughly enjoyable, all be it wet, trip to Blair Horse Trials last weekend. In-between, Beth and I managed a couple of trips to Whinlatter in the Lake District mountain biking – we love it there, the trails are just such amazing fun!
Laura’s been having a very successful time on her lovely young horse Fitch. Having said this time last year that her eventing days were over, and she was only going to hunt, she’s done pretty well by completing five BE100 classes – placed 4th at Beckwithshaw – and last weekend they went clear in their first Novice at Richmond. They’ve got a few more events over the next few weeks, but then will be getting on with Fitch’s main job, as Laura’s hunter! I know that Beth is also looking forward to getting out on Chester, when she can over the coming weeks and months.
Back to the Horse Trials: we raised £30,395 for our chosen charities this year, a fantastic amount, and we are all very grateful to everyone’s generosity. In a bid to raise a further £10,000, Ogden of Harrogate have joined us in our efforts, and are selling bracelets in aid of the two funds, the local Yorkshire Regiment ‘Welfare for Wounded Warriors’ Benevolent Fund and the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund, profits from the bracelet sales will go directly to the charities. Check out the ‘shop online’ tab at www.ogdenharrogate.co.uk for ‘Fashion Joins Forces’ to buy a bracelet and support our soldiers. 25/08/2011 10:43:28
Director's Blog - 3rd August 2011
Somewhat annoyingly I’ve been neglecting this blog for far too long, and really must try harder to keep it at least vaguely up to date!
Anyhow for those who came to Bramham this year; I hope that you had a fantastic time! All of us in the office thoroughly enjoyed it, and at least for me the ‘blues feeling’ that ‘it’s all over for another year’ have now moved on, as with my Estate Manager’s hat on I am now pretty focussed on the forthcoming Leeds Festival (only 23 days to go!) – more later.
The whole team worked incredibly hard, to ensure that the Park looked as well as we could make it look when everyone arrived and that the Event and competition went smoothly. I must confess to having been quite nervous about some of the changes introduced this year, such as moving the Stables for the first time in over 30 years, not to mention the myriad of other changes across the site. Pleasingly most of the changes were well received, and we have a list of tweaks and alterations to implement next year. I am however delighted that it is only tweaks, rather than massive changes, because most changes worked pretty well.
Ian’s course was again fantastic, and we have already met a couple of times to look at some changes for next year’s route. David Evans and his team were a pleasure to work with and presented the course beautifully. A lot goes on behind the scenes that may not be noticed, for example Andrew our site manager religiously moves all of the water sprinklers (we run on the arenas) every few hours throughout every night to help ensure that the ground in the arenas and collecting rings is as good as we can make it. Mike and his team in the caravan site arrive several days early to mark out the site for the record number of caravans we had booked. It really is a team effort at Bramham, and that has to be one of the best things about working here; the way so many people work together towards the common goal of making Bramham bigger and better than the year before.
Talking of bigger, our attendance was up this year by roughly 3.5% to a total of 59,000 over the four days. Our biggest ever gate figure, so we are all very pleased. The fantastic weather on Thursday and Friday of course helped, and we have put in our request for next year’s weather already!
The Festival build started about a week ago, and it is amazing how much they can do in just a week. Literally miles of fencing are already in place, the main stage is getting there and lorry load after lorry load of kit is streaming into the Park every day. Fortunately it is currently dry, so we don’t have any mud anywhere and hopefully it will remain dry to make the post show clear up easier.
Beth has been on various placements recently and is currently doing two weeks at the PDSA in Leeds, which means that she is actually living at home for a change – which is really nice. We have been indulging in our passion for the outdoors and have done plenty of mountain biking over the last couple of months and this weekend is our annual weekend trip to Gatcombe – my last ‘holiday’ before the Festival!
Keep a look out on Facebook as we’ll be announcing the winner of our photo competition later this month. 03/08/2011 12:51:08
Director's Blog - 30th May 2011
To think that in seven days time the Event will be all but over as I write this blog on Monday morning, is quite scary! The build, thus far, has gone very smoothly and most of the marquees are now up and built, as are the stables and much of the fencing that we put up around the site. Well, the fencing was up until the strong winds blew some of it over!
It is amazing how quickly the Park transforms; from just a few pegs in the ground marking out the site to barely a day or two later completed marquees, stables and shedding units everywhere.
Some of the larger trade stands have been arriving to get their marquees set up in advance of the ‘rush’ of trade stands that arrive over the coming couple of days. Internal traffic management suddenly becomes very high on our Site Managers list of priorities trying to keep the trade stands to the hard roads and not letting them take short cuts across the carefully mown grass.
The Park and cross country course look well, with David and his team working hard to ensure that the fences look perfect – and they do! Alongside David’s team the Bramham Park staff have been working tirelessly watering the course and mowing the Park – they have all worked very long days for quite some time now and have given up entire weekends to the cause, a well earned rest is not all that far away now.
The competitors will start to arrive from 1000 on Tuesday, into the relocated Stables Field (any competitors reading this: please follow the directional signs – do not try to come into the Park via the ‘old’ route!). Holly the Stable Manager arrived on Sunday afternoon and has been busily setting up the stables and the compound to ensure that everything runs as seamlessly as possible come the Event itself.
I am now off for a meeting with the marquee contractors Accio, to walk through the build and to ensure that everything is exactly per the plans – which knowing their attention to detail, I’m sure it will be. 30/05/2011 13:54:46
Director's Blog - 8th May 2011
As mentioned in the closing remarks of my last blog instalment, Facebook really is now the best way of keeping up with the very latest goings on at Bramham - especially if yours truly continues to update this blog as infrequently as I have been doing so recently!
Anyhow, since the last update a lot has happened, and about the only thing that we have not had is any rain! Although we have been blessed with blue skies and gorgeous sunshine for a number of weeks now, rain is required to make the grass grow. We always have the contingency of watering the course at Bramham, and this year will prove no exception. We have been watering some areas for several weeks already, mainly those areas where David and his team have carried out some ground works over the winter and the dry weather has meant that the grass seed (and in some places turf) has not come on as well as I would have liked. More recently we rented in two Verti-drain machines, which basically punch small holes into the ground so that the water gets right into the ground and to the grass's roots. The lack of rain had meant that the surface of the ground was so hard that water would not have soaked in well. But following the work of the verti-drains, the rain that is now forecast and the watering which we will continue to do - the going should be fantastic.
Work in the office always picks up around this time, and the team downstairs have been very busy sorting out the packs of information and tickets that get sent out to our small army of volunteers and Officials - without whose assistance we could not put the Event on. The telephone Box Office has been open for a week now, and bookings are flooding in. The best and simplest way to book in advance remains via the internet though. There is a chance that the Caravan Park may sell out for the first ever time, and as such if you are planning on coming to camp I would recommend booking soon to avoid potential disappointment.
Various site changes are planned for this year largely as a result of bottle necks and traffic jams that have developed as the Event has grown over the last few years, but also due to changes to the Cross Country Course - including relocating the Start/Finish. I am looking forward to seeing how everything pans out, although as always with changes, there is a small degree of trepidation. I would love a time machine so I could watch how everything goes, but then nip back to now just incase there are any tweaks still needed!!
The only downside of my dual role of Estate Manager and Event Director, is that at this time of year when the Horse Trials are getting really busy it would be great to be able to put everything else on the Estate ‘on pause'. However that would be too simple, and everything else on the Estate is progressing at its usual rapid and busy pace including some exciting renovation works to the leaking T-Pond in the gardens. This is a fairly massive undertaking, and the project is scheduled to commence immediately after the Leeds Festival.
Closer to home Beth has been in ‘exam hell' for the last two weeks, only broken by a wedding last weekend in Suffolk, but she has now finished her exams - at last and will be at home for the next few weeks before she starts a year of assorted veterinary work placements and then graduates this time next year.
The coming days and weeks will be very busy, but equally exciting, and I promise to try and update this more often!!08/05/2011 13:32:19
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