A Secret Mission Mission Accepted!
At Rudding Park our purpose is to create memorable experiences in exceptional spaces. This extends to our team as well as our guests and, having received an email with a plea for help, we jumped at the chance to surprise and delight a valued member of our team.
Setting the Scene:
We received an email from Dave Burdall, brother of our Golf Academy Manager, Jordan. Dave explained he lives in Australia and due to Covid he'd not seen Jordan for three years. Not only that, he’d never met Gemma (Jordan's partner who works on Reception at Rudding Park) or their two year old son, Harvey, Dave’s nephew and godson.
Dave went on to say “I am coming back to England for the first time, no thanks to covid, landing at Heathrow at 3pm on Friday 12th February. No one in the UK, bar yourself now, knows I’m coming. I would be extremely appreciative if you could help me in surprising him and my parents on my return?”
Being able to help arrange an amazing surprise for a member of our team was far too tempting a challenge to turn down.
Dave was super keen to spring the surprise on Friday evening, as he didn’t think he’d be able to contain himself for too long without seeing his family. However, having convinced him and his Australian fiancé, Kylie (yes, it's true!) a surprise on the Friday evening might be a little optimistic if they were landing at Heathrow at 3pm (no scope for flight or Friday night traffic delays on the way up to Yorkshire) they hastily re-booked their flight to land at 5.55am on Friday – perfect!
Right, so all we had to do was:
- Come up with a reason for Jordan to be at work on Friday night and make sure Gemma was also there (she was on the rota to work).
- Come up with a reason for Mr and Mrs Burdall to travel up to Harrogate for the evening.
Mission 1 – The Parents
Having obtained their number from Dave; Peter Banks, our Managing Director called Mr and Mrs Burdall to invite them to a very prestigious (yet ficticious) 'Awards Dinner' where Jordan was to be recognised for exceptional performance and retail sales growth at the Golf Academy! Peter explained we thought it would be wonderful for his parents to be there and we’d organise a room so they could stay overnight and make the most of the celebrations, however it was crucial it was kept top secret for maximum impact. They just needed to leave Jordan to us…
Mission 2 – Jordan and Gemma
Nicola Cook, Head of Marketing excitedly tells Jordan she’d had a call from a lady on behalf of the CEO of Callaway (a leading golf brand). Nicola explained from what she could understand, Callaway were launching a global campaign to showcase selected high performing golf venues to incentivise their best performing reps) and Rudding Park Golf Academy was one of the few venues they had selected – would you believe it?!
To support the launch, the CEO of Callaway, Oliver G. Brewer III (aka ‘Chip’) wanted to interview Jordan over Zoom. The interview was to be on Friday at Rudding Park and because of the time difference had to be at 7.30pm GMT. Nicola explained the lady had advised it was highly confidential and none of the Callaway reps knew about it – we didn’t want Jordan asking them questions!
Luckily he fell for that!
Perfect! Nicola told Jordan as a thank you for doing the interview on a Friday night, she'd arrange a room for him and Gemma with dinner after his call with ‘Chip’, so they could make the most of what was left of the evening.
The countdown begins
- What felt like 101 emails later (mainly from Jordan worrying what he should call Oliver G. Brewer III – Mr Brewer, Oliver, Chip?! And what he needed to prepare) Quite frankly we didn't know whether to laugh or cry!
- 'Awards presentation’ created
- 'Awards certificate' printed
- The story of a family reunion printed (a compilation of the numerous emails it took to arrange the mission!)
- Meeting room ready for Zoom
- Room dressed for dinner
- Champagne on ice
The big day arrives – how the plot unravelled…
Dave and Kylie (a.k.a Mr and Ms Sibling - we had to give them an alias so Gemma didn't spot their names) arrive and are smuggled in through Spa Reception to avoid Gemma (who was working at Hotel Reception)
Mr and Ms Burdall arrive – again, smuggled in through Spa Reception to avoid Gemma, and taken to their room so they could ‘freshen up’ – and to buy us a little time for us all to get into position and play our parts!
Meanwhile, James King, Head of Golf meets Jordan in the Russell Room at Rudding House to set up a banner and connect to the smart screen ready for Jordan’s live Zoom interview with ‘Chip’!
Nicola Cook, Head of Marketing heads up to the Russell Room with the all-important Zoom meeting ID and password to connect to the call with ‘Chip’. On realising James hadn’t managed to get connected she stepped in assist, but surprisingly also experienced a few ‘issues’ too (purely delaying tactic – the screen does work perfectly!)
Jordan is getting quite stressed at this point, pacing the floor, like an expectant father!
Richard Bosworth, from our Guest Relations team collects Dave and Kylie from their room. He takes them on a route back of house so they could hide in the Clocktower Brasserie kitchen (located next to where we were to do the big reveal).
Good news - Nicola manages to get connected to Zoom – hooray! Oh but don’t speak too soon, would you believe it, the Meeting ID she is using doesn’t seem to work – shock horror!
James calls Guest Relations to check what time the dinner is taking place in the Private Dining Room at Clocktower Brasserie in the hope we can switch rooms and connect using the screen in the Private Dining Room. Funnily enough it’s available for us to use, so we head downstairs to Clocktower.
Richard Bosworth asks Gemma to go straight to the Clocktower Brasserie Private Dining Room and stay there until further notice.
Nicola and James take Jordan into the Private Dining Room (the screen had some artwork referring to an awards presentation for Mr and Mrs Burdall’s benefit) Enter Jordan; perplexed to see Gemma sitting there, Gemma perplexed that she’s been told to stay there.
Peter Banks goes to collect Mr and Mrs Burdall from their room.
Enter: Mrs and Mrs Burdall
Enter: The big reveal with the guests of honour!
We think we’ve been forgiven...
Nicola, James, Peter
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank you all for what’ve you’ve done for myself and my family with this. I am lost for words and as you can tell by my mum’s reaction in the video, neither could she!
No one has ever done anything like this for me and I can’t explain how overwhelmed I am and how grateful we are. It really does show what an incredible place Rudding Park is and how the team and staff are important in every way. Just thank you thank you thank you - but I’ll be getting you back one day!!” X
Good morning Nicola, Peter and James,
“Just want to say a huge Thank you for this absolutely unbelievable surprise!! Your attention to detail to ensure this remained a surprise to the very precise last minute is staggering. Kev and I are still speechless with the whole chain of events. 'The Story of a family reunion’ book is going to be treasured and will be shared with family and friends who have seen events unfold through social media but have no idea as to the complexity that made for an unforgettable event. We are going to have a lovely 10 days with many thanks to you all for your support and commitment to make this possible.
Please pass our thanks to your wonderful team of staff who were evidently all ‘ in on the act’. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon, but not necessarily trusting a word you say!!
With much love to you all at Rudding.”
Lucy and Kev Burdall