W H O R U N T H E W O R L D ? : INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY PART 3: Beth Heath, Director of Fun, Shropshire Festivals
I’m excited to share the story of Beth Heath, who is based in my home county of Shropshire and really paving the way for events in this area. So far in this blog series I have featured two motivated, creative and inspirational women running exciting events companies. They’ve shared their journeys, their stories and their thoughts based in New York City and Boston, USA. Today it’s time to look at what’s happening closer to home!
When your job title is ‘Director of Fun’ you really do need to love what you do.
Beth and her team do- and it shows! That is the fantastic thing about Shropshire Festivals. Incorporating Shropshire’s biggest and most exciting festivals – from food to farming, they are all about ensuring guests have the best day out and leave with a smile on their faces.
“Beth comes up with new ideas, focuses on the original and unique and finds the fun in everything she does. Remarkable attractions are provided for guests in a safe and secure environment.”
I have been lucky enough to work on a couple of Beth’s Events with her so know first hand the expertise and energy which goes into her event operation. Her background is in agriculture and her experience has always kept her connected to food from many different angles; how it is grown and created, marketed and sold and the relationship event attendees have with food and producers.
Maybe that’s why one of her largest events, Shrewsbury Food Festival, is such a well-supported event; because of the love and passion behind it. Alongside this, Beth manages a whole host of other festivals for people of all ages; from Shropshire Kids Fest to Shropshire Oktoberfest and Field to Fork Festival along with many more!
Can you tell me how you found your way into the events industry?
Well, I organised one of the UK’s first farmers markets whilst on placement from university and then when the Ludlow food festival job came up it seemed the obvious fit for me. 12 years there taught me tonnes, but I like to be busy! So I started the Shrewsbury food festival…then went on maternity leave and then Winter festival and Kids Fest soon followed. I had to quit the ‘day job’ as my own stuff got so busy 🙂 ! However, with a degree in Agriculture and marketing I have no official events training- just a huge dollop of common sense!
Despite being a female-dominated industry, there are fewer women taking senior and boardroom positions- where do you think we stand today with the ‘glass ceiling’ for women in the world of events?
I think it’s hard for women sometimes to juggle the world of kids and careers and events is a tough career unless you have the awesome support network around you that Iam lucky enough to have. I would love to believe we can take on the world…. however i don’t honestly think it matters if you’re male or female the career is a hard one and the harder you work at it the further you’ll get!
What’s the motivation behind your company Shropshire Festivals?
Fun- plain and simple…. I want to put on events that are events that I would want to go to. I want the perfect day out for my entire family, or a great night out for me and my husband, a fun destination for me and the girls… I have spent the past 40 years doing the best research ‘living life’ and listening to grumbles from stallholders, customers, friends and family about what they didn’t like so I thought -what the hell let’s see if we can do it better and make more people smile in the process!
Where do you look for inspiration?
To anything that someone tells me was missing or wrong with a day out. I look for things my kids love, what my husband moans about (the price of beer!) and what I would like when I attend an event and then I try and make them all into the best day out for each group of people.
Most ideas are not totally original, we have altered and adapted ideas we have seen across the world. From space hopper arenas and foam parties to comedy clubs and BBQ schools all those ideas have come from something very different that just sparked something in the imagination.
3 top tips for aspiring event professionals?
- Be brave; if you think it can be done then do it.
- Don’t be afraid to admit failure even if you think an event should be great – if it doesn’t work then let it go.
- Don’t ever put on an event you wouldn’t want to attend yourself (life is too short and you’re the best critic you have!)
Thank you to Beth for not just taking the time to answer my questions but for continuing to inspire me as I continue to grow and develop as an Event Manager myself! Check out the latest ‘Shropshire Festivals’ at http://www.shropshirefestivals.co.uk