The History of Gallowglass Event Crew
Gallowglass has now been up and running for 21 years, and in that time, we’ve had some of the most incredible experiences and opportunities. Every event that we add to our portfolio helps us to grow as a business and improve our services as the number one event crew provider globally. We’ve shared many stories with you about Gallowglass in the past few years, but today, we’re here to give you an insight into our story from the beginning!
Gallowglass was first launched in September 1996 with an investment of £80. The first set of crew members came from the London Scottish Rugby Club, and this background instilled the roots of discipline, hard work and dedication that has stuck with us through the years. Our first small operation was called Rugger Luggers, and this paved the way for Gallowglass’ beginnings.
An event that really helped to put us on the map as a company in 1998 was ASEM, the Asia/Europe Summit. Every major world leader attended this grand event, including Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin! This was a great learning curve for us, as a major issue put us substantially behind schedule. In the early hours of a Saturday morning, founder Paul Grecian managed to muster 70 additional crew members, and within 24 hours the problems had been solved, and the event went ahead without a glitch!
1998 was also the year that the Gallowglass Edinburgh office opened, allowing us to provide event crew to events such as the Scottish Open Golf and the Edinburgh Tattoo, which we still work on today!
With the turn of the Millennium, our business grew from strength to strength with projects such as the Radio 1 Roadshows, the MTV Awards in Leith and the Manchester Commonwealth Games. The last event listed was one of our proudest moments when 130 of our Crew Chiefs and event crew guided thousands of volunteers through the features of entertainment during the opening and closing ceremonies. This was an incredibly large-scale task, elements of which had failed to be delivered at the Sydney Olympic Ceremonies just two years earlier. The Australian production management teams said that it was the quality of the crew that made all the difference and led to this success!
In 2006, we extended our European reach with an office in Barcelona, Spain to meet the growing demand within the region. Supported by the UK regional offices in Scotland, the North of England, Midlands and the South West, Gallowglass had really made a mark on the events industry within a mere ten years.
2008 saw us build a home for two million litres of water in Manchester for the 9th FINA World Swimming Championships, where 25,500 spectators gathered to witness the event. We broke records on this build, with 100 of Manchester’s finest event crew. We built two Olympic swimming pools in just 11 days, saving the client both time and money in the process. The previous record for this style of structure included the work of around 600 crew in Shanghai and took 33 days!
In 2009, a very personal cause was launched: the Howards Way Walk in aid of pancreatic cancer research. The walks take place in memory of freelance logistics manager Howard Kerr, brother-in-law of both Paul and Nick Grecian, who sadly passed away in 2009. The annual walks include The Ridgeway, Hadrian’s Wall and The Dales way, covering around 100-miles per day for three days. To date, over £335,000 has been raised towards the cause.
In 2010, we produced a series of training films for the use of our induction programme, which covered 14 key areas. Gallowglass then, in the same year, partnered with leading chartered health and safety consultant Steve Kearney to launch Gallowglass Health and Safety: an events industry health and safety consultancy.
Just one year later, in 2011, we launched a dedicated training company, Gallowglass Training. This sister company allows us to deliver accredited courses which are tailored to the live events sector and helps to keep our crew at the forefront of the industry. Our training facilities mean that we can offer fantastic career progression opportunities to our own crew, as well as provide training to a wide range of businesses in the UK. Bringing this up to date, we launched the ‘Top 20’ Safety Courses earlier this year for on-site operational staff in partnership with John Young, former Head of Technical Services at Ambassador Theatre Group.
We were incredibly proud to have been a part of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, where we undertook a variety of tasks including the technical elements of the opening and closing ceremonies, building 95% of the games temporary infrastructure and installing the apparatus at all major sporting venues. This was an incredible experience for all involved and gives us as a company a real sense of pride to have been involved in such a globally renowned event.
In 2016, we celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we would like to share with you some of our proudest awards. With a total of 21 ‘industry bests’, Gallowglass has won Event Services Supplier of the Year awards every year since 2003 (with the exception of 2012, when focus on its work for the Olympics prompted the Board’s decision not to enter any awards).
A few Firsts for Gallowglass include:
- The first crewing company to offer Crew Chiefs
- First with PPE (Steel toe caps)
- First crewing company to win an industry award
- First crewing company to win a British Safety Council Award
- First event company to gain independent ISO’s
- First crewing company to qualify crew as H&S advisors
- First event company to be endorsed by the HSE
- First crewing company to have multiple UK offices
We have worked on some remarkable events over the years, and have expanded our business to offer strengths in an array of areas, including training and health and safety. From appointment at dock10 (MediaCityUK) for in-house operational support to contracting with clients such as Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Albert Hall and the International Olympic Committee, our clients span far and wide. Although we may not seem the cheapest event crew supplier in comparison to our competitors, the difference is made in the quality and efficiency, often saving clients’ money in the long run. The expertise and experience we’ve gained in our 21 years of operation are invaluable, and we can’t wait to continue offering our services to events across the globe in 2018!