The HBAA held their Annual General Meeting and Kick Off Meeting on 14 January at the Royal Armouries International (RAI) in Leeds.

The outgoing Chair, Jacqui Kavanagh, decided the event should be held outside of London to support our regions. The RAI swooped at the opportunity to host the prestigious event and showcase their flexible venue to the agency members. The team at RAI were incredible, supporting our every request; nothing was too much trouble.

Proud members of the HBAA

The Kick Off Meeting followed on from the Annual General Meeting and was held in the Bury Theatre, which was an ideal meeting space for this session. The main aim of the meeting was to lay out the strategy and vision for the next five years.

Proud members of the HBAA

The incoming Chair, Leigh Cowlishaw, presented this alongside myself as Vice-Chair. One of the take-homes from the session was that despite speculation around the name of the association we will purposefully remain with the current HBAA identity. This will now have an accompanying strapline – setting the standard in the events and hospitality sector – to help promote the strategic intention of the association. As a result of these changes the strategic statement now reads:

The HBAA is the events and hospitality association that drives, promotes and models good business between its members. It champions best practice, ethical working and sound commercial judgement, making HBAA membership the mark of quality assurance for the sector.

Members are now being encouraged to include this in corporate tenders to demonstrate what the association stands for. The five-year vision was set out as:

– Back to basics (2016, year one)
– Moving forward (2017, year two)
– Consolidate success (2018, year three)
– Review and re-position (2019, year four)
– The next generation (2020, year five)

The Chair’s charity for 2016 and 2017 was also revealed and they are going to support Beyond Food. The charity works with people who have been at risk of, or who have experienced, homelessness to motivate and inspire them to gain meaningful employment.

Proud members of the HBAA

Simon Boyle, charity founder, presented the reason for Beyond Food, which runs two programmes that have been designed, implemented and perfected by himself; Freshlife and the United Kitchen Apprecticeship. Freshlife is a six-week series of motivational workshops that promotes well-being, passion for food and meaningful employment. The United Kitchen Apprenticeship is a fully certified training programme where apprentices study towards an NVQ Level Two Diploma in Professional Cookery as well as receiving on the job training in the kitchens at Brigade Bar & Bistro. In addition to this, apprentices also receive personal mentoring and employability coaching helping to create a direct pathway to future employment.

Proud members of the HBAA

Following on from the kick off sessions, the Annual Dinner took place in the RAI Museum and the adjacent New Dock Hall. Drinks and canapes were served in the Tournament Gallery and War Gallery where guests were entertained by knights in shining armour, a fitting display to match the venue.

Proud members of the HBAA

The New Dock Hall is an amazing space and the room was lit up with glitter balls, star cloths and dressed in green, orange and white to complement our Irish theme in honour of the outgoing Chair. Meet In Ireland kindly sponsored the mind-blowing entertainment, Celtic Dawn. This show had never been performed in the UK before and all the guests were just amazed by the spectacle. To keep the momentum of the party going, the Bogus Brothers band came on and the dancefloor was not empty at any stage of the night.

Proud members of the HBAA

As Chair of the Events Committee I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the rest of the committee for being such a fabulous team and making this prestigious event such a success. The team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a memorable showcase that matched HBAA strategic intention as an association. Initial feedback certainly suggests that the members had productive sessions and an enjoyable evening. We certainly felt it was!

Louise Goalen is Business Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events | Venues.

Photos taken by Simon Dewhurst.