What can Telford and Shropshire offer as an event destination? Let’s take a closer look!
Becki and Gill from Events Northern Ltd were invited to attend ‘Discover’ – a familiarisation weekend to Telford and Shropshire. Organised by Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group the trip brought together over 150 event managers from across the UK to give them a taste of what the area has to offer.
Blists Hill Victorian Town
We arrived on Friday evening in time to check into the Holiday Inn Telford/Ironbridge, drop our bags and head out to Blists Hill. This is a Victorian town, part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. Here we could explore the period shops and attractions such as the chemists, drapers and sweet shop and choose where to spend our shillings and pence, which had been issued to each of us on the coach. Characters in period costumes invited questions and interaction and set the scene for what it was like to live during Victorian times.
We explored the streets, mine and foundry, enjoyed traditional fish and chips, washed down with dandelion and burdock and eventually found ourselves in the fairground at the coconut shy, wooden swing boats and motorised chair swings. The evening was concluded with a singsong and hot whiskey toddy. This was certainly an unusual experience and would make a different setting for a group event or indeed a wedding – Blists Hill is licensed for Civil Ceremonies within the Club Room and the Forest Glen.
We had a range of excellent activities and trips to choose from for the Saturday and it was difficult to decide which appealed the most as we wanted to be involved in them all! We opted to visit Weston Park for a show around the stately home and time to enjoy the
Midland Game and Country Fair taking place on the site. Also the site for V Festival, it was great to enjoy the splendour of the house and to see it in its true glory, without mud and wellies!
The House at Weston was built in 1671 and is set within 1,000 acres of historic Parkland. The house can be hired for corporate events, conferences, dinners, and weddings and comprises 28 bedrooms, each with its own individual character. When you hire the house it comes fully staffed and is hired on an exclusive basis.
We were particularly inspired by the beautiful Victorian Library which homes 3,000 leather bound (and no doubt first edition) books. The Dining Room was also impressive, overlooking the formal gardens and with Weston’s finest and most important collection of paintings, including works by Van Dyck and Lely.
The house is licensed for civil ceremonies (various rooms) and is also next door to the Parish Church of St Andrews, which is linked by a private corridor to the stately home – perfect to keep celebrity weddings private or simply if the English weather lets you down!
The Victorian Orangery has natural stone walls, complete with foliage and fairy lights and huge period windows offering superb views over the Gardens. This would be a truly magical setting for a wedding breakfast for up to 120 people.
After viewing the house we had time to enjoy lunch and cupcakes and to explore the Game Fair at our leisure. Although we were a little disappointed to miss out on the jousting and ferret racing (!) we really enjoyed the falconry, gundog, and dog agility demonstrations and the numerous stall holders throughout the site.
The Telford International Centre
On Saturday evening we were amongst 500 guests attending a black-tie gala dinner to launch the brand new, 1300sqm Ludlow Suite at The International Centre. With over 11,600 square meters of event space in total, The International Centre is one of the largest conference and exhibition venues in the West Midlands. The venue provides a contemporary and versatile event location for events ranging from boardroom meetings, gala dinners, conferences, and large exhibitions. The Ludlow Suite offered a stunning backdrop for the dinner, complemented by excellent food, drink, entertainment, hospitality, and service.
The 400 metre and relay runner Roger Black MBE gave an after-dinner speech, which was particularly inspiring and heart-warming with his stories of the Olympics. It was an honour to be able to speak to Roger afterwards and to hold his beautiful silver Olympic medal – the medal for his personal best of which he is most proud (despite achieving a gold medal with the British relay team).
Why Choose Telford for Your Event?
Telford is already a popular destination with event organisers – it is situated at the heart of the national motorway network, with direct trains from London Marylebone and over 3,000 bedrooms within a 20-minute radius of the centre. Discover celebrated the major investment the destination has seen and promoted the ongoing developments that will take the area to the next level, including the £250 million Southwater development programme to create a new convention quarter in the heart of the town.
The weekend was an excellent taster to highlight some of the ideas and versatility of Telford and Shropshire. It was an inspiring weekend, not only in terms of the excellent venues and facilities on offer but also in terms of networking and generating ideas with other event professionals.
Throughout the weekend we discussed some great plans for new events, partnerships, and collaborations with some of the lovely people we met; and who knows maybe some of these ideas will come to fruition in Telford and Shropshire venues!
Discover proved the power of bringing together people who share similar interests and areas of expertise. The energy and ideas created by meeting face to face cannot be created in any other way and once again highlights the importance of events and the event industry.
The organising team from Telford and Shropshire Conferences and the Southwater Event Group worked tirelessly to ensure an informative and thoroughly enjoyable weekend was had by all and the variety and quality of venues on offer shone through. These are very exciting times for Telford and Shropshire and we are looking forward to bringing more business to the area.
Thanks and credit to Southwater Event Group for providing the photos of Discover featured in this blog post.