it time we had another Conference?” It had been three years since our last
event when our UK Support Director came to me with this leading question. A
question that would be the catalyst to a very proud day in the history of our
Whilst our Conferences have always been business focused, it was tradition for us to take part in some sort of team building activity too. This time we wanted to Dare To Be Different. Feedback from our annual engagement survey told us that we could do more to give back to the community. So instead of investing in an organised group activity, we decided to put our money and time towards a really worthy cause and began the search for a charitable organisation that could use the help of over 70 willing hands. You’d be surprised by how difficult it is to find a project on this scale, but after much research we contacted The Amelia Trust Farm, a care farm charity based near Barry, South Wales. They were delighted by our offer and over the next few months we finalised the plans for the day – which included more than one preliminary walk around the muddy farm!
This was an exciting period for both us and the Trust, as neither party had done anything quite like this before. As the day approached I became somewhat obsessed with checking the weather forecast. Sunny would be perfect (but totally unrealistic I know, given it was September in Wales); cloudy but dry I could live with. BUT PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE POURING WITH RAIN!!
As the day arrived and we headed to The Trust after another excellent conference, I thought our luck was in as the sun was shining…..but not for long!
We were greeted by the Education & Site Manager, Mal Sanchez-Jones, with some of his volunteer team, and Coco the donkey. Mal gave us an introduction to the Trust and explained the tasks we would be doing in our teams. We then split into three groups; Tee-Pee Tastic (building wooden Tee-Pees in a green play area), Team Theatre of Dreams (re-vamping a natural amphitheatre), and Team Speedy Snails (creating a woodland path with wooden snail sculptures). At this exact moment, the heavens opened and it began to rain….torrentially!
For three rain-drenched hours we dug, we chopped, we sawed, we scythed, we hammered, we levelled, we hauled, we painted, we fetched and carried and we didn’t stop for breath. We were soaked to the skin, covered in mud, and very tired by the end! But… we were all smiling. Everyone threw themselves into their tasks with 100% enthusiasm, and no one cared about the weather. I saw the absolute best that we as a team could give during these few hours, it was fantastic! No one really wanted to stop but of course, when we finally did, so did the rain! The last drops fell as we congregated in the Trust courtyard ready to climb aboard the coaches back to our hotel.
The feedback I received after the event was 100% positive. Many said they would love to return to the Trust – I am one of them – and felt that activities of this nature did more for bonding teams than other traditional team-building activities we’ve done previously. OK, so it took a few weeks for our boots to dry, and the day did bring on a few coughs and colds, but you know what? We don’t care. We loved the Trust, we loved the work, and we are immensely proud of what we achieved.
Taking a day each year to volunteer is something we’ve always been able to do in the UK, and it’s great to see that this has now been rolled out internationally, giving all employees around the world the opportunity to make a difference for a fantastic cause. I would absolutely recommend that people take advantage of this… and if you can do it with your team, even better!
Roll on next time!