It has been too quiet on our blog for too long!
As we head on to the anniversary we all hoped would never happen, dealing with COVID and the associated lockdowns, we thought we would give you all an update on what some of us have been up to over the last 12 months via this new blog series over the next few weeks.
“BORIS JOHNSON has declared that Britain can “turn the tide” on coronavirus within 12 weeks if the nation pulls together.” Source: Daily Express
Gary White and other event professionals team together to start the #MakeItBlue campaign. Gallowglass was tremendously proud to play a part.
View from the top
Paul Grecian – Chairman of the Gallowglass Group
The first week of March and I am lying in hospital in excruciating pain having had a hip removed that, judging by the scar, must have been the size of a dinosaurs’! As the painkillers take hold, I slowly become aware that the world outside the hospital is falling apart. Occasional phone calls to the office confirm that events and shows are being cancelled across the board and I can’t even sit on the toilet never mind do anything constructive to help.
On the front line
Stephen Bridgewater – Senior Crew Chief – Wales and South West
The reality of the situation we face becomes clear whilst working at a Six Nations game at the Principality stadium. As kick off approaches we are told the match is to be cancelled to fall in line with every other major sporting event throughout the country except Cheltenham Festival. We as a group realise that as much as we were wishing that it wouldn’t come to this, it had hit home, and a lot of uncertainty lay ahead for all of us.
Scott Young – Senior Crew Chief – Scotland
Lockdown eh? This seems a bit more serious than first thought!
Dave Gregory – Senior Crew Chief – London
I was at work when the news came in, the client we were working for said he had to pack the job up so trucks and vans where coming to collect everything we had just set up over the last 2 days. When we get the email from the office say all work had been pulled, I thought it was a joke at first but then the office called and explained, it was a shock. For the next few weeks, it was like being on holiday: gym, home and cooking. After being at home for 3 weeks it was losing its appeal and I was getting worried about money and work.
Mark Visser – Crew Chief – London
My last shifts before my wife and I fly out with Air New Zealand on Monday 9th March to Los Angeles for 3 weeks holiday in the USA, visiting family and friends.
15th March we are informed Air New Zealand’s last flight ever from Los Angeles to Heathrow has been brought forward from September to 19th March because of COVID-19. We managed to get seats on the flight and arrive back in the UK on 20th March. We are advised to self-isolate for 2 weeks, which we do.
23rd March lockdown begins, and life is changed from what we previously knew it.
I am bi-vocational, in that I work for Gallowglass 3 days a week, as well as being the Pastor of Grace Vineyard Church in Purley, which can no longer meet in the building that we normally use. The church doesn’t close, it just changes the way we meet – Church on Zoom becomes the new way of doing things. My IT skills ramp up drastically as sermons are no longer done live but have to be recorded and edited and uploaded to YouTube – skills I had to learn in a hurry, but with no Gallowglass work on offer I have the time to be in front of the computer honing new skills. They say, when you stop learning, you stop living. This old dog had learnt new tricks!
Marwan Zeghbib – Crew Chief – London
Finished a derig for “The Voice” as the government announced a National Lockdown. We were all sent home as a result, with a big question mark as to the duration of this quarantine, and the spread of the virus, which seemed to be at an alarming rate.
We worked with The Circle Agency to distribute coffee to the frontline workers across all hospitals in London and the South East. It was a good feeling to contribute to fighting the pandemic by boosting the morale of the welcoming, yet evidently exhausted NHS staff. The atmosphere was very much that of war times, against an invisible enemy.
What happened in BD
Antony Cook – Head of Business Development
Initially like everyone else I thought this would last 3-6 months and then things would be back to normal. A little optimistic you might say but have always been a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy, positive and with a mind-set of if we can change it then do so, if you can’t accept it and move on. Boy has that mentality been tested the last 12 months.
So, at the tail end of March I find myself working from home as the UK enters into lockdown. Finding a place to set up the laptop, keyboard & monitor out of the way from my better half was the first hurdle to overcome and once sorted it would be plain sailing from here. Wouldn’t it??
What happened in HR
Chris Parry-Jones – Director of Human Resources
This is the month that we crack on with recruitment, make sure we have not missed any employment legislation starting in April. It became very obvious, very quickly that it was not going to be a normal start to the busy summer season. Suddenly board meeting became Covid conversations and what to do. The end of March saw the whole company working from home and we all had to learn about Teams and Zoom. Normally splitting my week between home and London I found myself at home all the time – no surprise the puppy was happy!! We Make It Blue was a great initiative from the industry and celebrated those who were making a real difference.
What happened in IT
Darren Thorley – Head of IT
We all started to work from home, not knowing how long the situation was going to go on for.
While we had some services in the cloud already, a lot was still on-premises. The biggest applications being our ERP software (Microsoft Dynamics Nav) and our phone system linked to Skype for Business.
Fortunately we were prepared for this as we have a fully tested Business Continuity Process and so our most mission critical services could switch to the cloud in the event of a disaster but the cloud infrastructure was not designed for long term running. Initially, we were hopeful that this wouldn’t last long and that we would be returning to normal before too long – oh boy did we get that wrong!
We were also prepared in that 50% of our team worked remotely on a regular basis so the key part was getting those who were office based a setup they could use at home. There was a lot of running around, prioritising who needs what and getting laptops, mobiles and the like to them. I set off on a tour of the south collecting kit from some and delivering it to others.
We knew our telephony needed to be migrated to a fully cloud based system so we started the project to migrate from Skype For Business to Teams as a top priority.
Big internal financial reviews started so we could get a handle on controlling costs to reflect the changes to business volumes.