As part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations, Sarah Storie-Pugh looks back on the events she has held here… the good times and the catering tastings. Sarah was MD of Concorde Services (now Congrex-UK) from 1983-2006.
I cannot really recall how far back it all goes. I started in the conference industry in 1976 when The QEIICC was but a hole in the ground. In fact it was not The QEIICC at all, it was known just as Broad Sanctuary, the street on which it resides.
My earliest memory was looking at plans in the offices of Conference Services Limited, in Charles Street, under the direction of Fay Pannell, who had been engaged as a consultant on various elements of the fitting out. This consisted of furniture layouts, and that was my first involvement with the then non-existent centre! How to make the furniture flexible, attractive, functional and then fit – and with no CAD systems or even computers!
Of course from then it rose majestically out of the ground. Initially almost all a secure government building, with only minimal areas available for public use, and then slowly but surely, floor by floor became available – making it the extensive centre it now is.
My first conference at the Centre was the Silver Jubilee Meeting of the Royal College of Pathologists, September 1987, attracting 500 delegates, just one year after the Centre opened. Hard hat event planning at that time was commonplace – we did it at the Barbican, the SECC, Birmingham ICC… and The QEII was no exception.
The spectrum of events I’ve worked on at The QEIICC has been phenomenal – from Police IT to World Advertising, from Pre-Cast Concrete to Neuropsychopharmacology; from World Nuclear to Young Lawyers, from Securities Commissions to Urology…… at a rough guess, about 20,000 international delegates have attended Concorde’s events at The QEIICC over the years. But perhaps the times we laughed the most was during the catering tastings – I mention no names, and no events, but those at The QEIICC who took part will know exactly who and which, and can share the joke …… such good times!
And so, over 25 events later, at least one for every year of QEII Centre’s existence, I can say with real honesty that I have loved working at that venue – the people, the trials, the laughs and of course the successes!
I wish them another 25 years of greatness.
IAPCO Administrator 2006 to current