Unsung Hero

Martin Clark, Arena Seating 

Martin joined Arena full time on 1st May 1993; he celebrated 25 years’ service this year.

Prior to that he ran our sub-contract scaffolding company for 10 years, he’s been a pivotal part of Arena for 35 years.

Martin has worked on the London BFI Film Festival, innovating year after year, and the Queen’s Club Tennis Championships for more than 25 years, plus X-Factor, Hampton Court Music Festivals, Davis Cups, BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Martin embodies our company values, he forms trust with our iconic partners through his morals of respect and discretion; he is a true gentleman, he is always professional, totally positive and committed.  Such an energiser to be around, his energy is contagious. He is a true optimist, having a positive impact on our employees and our partners alike.

Furthermore, Martin is a fantastic team player and a real asset for our business. He is a credit to the Arena brand, a true gem.  We owe a huge amount of gratitude and appreciation to him for his role in delivering outstanding products and services at a multitude of live events again and again.

Martin has long-standing relationships with London Marathon, Matchroom Boxing, London Olympics 2012, London International Horse Show Olympia, Wembley Stadium and ExCeL events, to name only a few!

Quote from Mark Griffith, Snr Ops Manager, London marathon:  Martin’s contribution has been huge over the years and plays a massive part in VMLM being the greatest marathon in the world.  The way Martin organises his team and tackles the logistical challenge of installing over 50 temporary structures (Mile and KM markers) in central London 48 hours before the event and removing them all only several hours after the runners have passed always impresses me from year to year.


Andrew 'Nipper' Coleman - Neptunus

Since first working with Neptunus ‘Nipper’ has always gone that extramile to keep our customers satisfied. His ‘can do’ attitude, superb organisational skills, passion and enthusiasm have been instrumental to our success at numerous major projects. From Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup to National Eisteddfods and Frieze Art Fairs, ‘Nipper’ has been challenged to schedule hundreds of trucks, carrying thousands of tons of equipment, on to and off sites.

‘Nipper’ is the person with longest association to Neptunus in the UK, joining in 1990 as Yard Manager in Kettering. In 1996, when Owen Brown were contracted to market Neptunus products, he moved his family to Castle Donington to work with the Neptunus brand. Subsequently, when the UK business was re-launched he moved back to Northamptonshire again.

With 28 years of ‘Neptunus’ experience, it’s second nature for him to effectively oversee the storage, maintenance and delivery of all equipment, parts and plant required to build and dismantle our UK projects. Nipper is organized and process-driven with the ability to adapt our operations to suit site-specifics and manage multiple tasks.

More than that, he is always willing to go the extra distance to ensure everything runs smoothly – often working long and unsociable hours for Neptunus and our clients. Most importantly, he does everything with a smile on his face! Always happy to help, his meticulous organisation and eagerness to meet any challenge has been vital to our success.

Unlike customer-facing sales and site crews, who regularly receive praise and thanks, the Logistics Team are ‘Unsung Heroes’. Without them projects would not happen. Their role might be invisible to the outside world but, brilliantly led by ‘Nipper’, our Logistics Team is the heartbeat of Neptunus. Some say – cut ‘Nipper’ in half and you would find Neptunus written like a stick of rock!

Clara Collett, Vintents

If ever there was a bias for man over woman,  

You just see if John can put tents up faster than Clara can.  

She’ll be on the field not stopping for a breath,  

And in a flash, she’ll have the crew dinner prepped.  

Gluten, dairy and meat free options available,  

Clara truly brings her A game to the camp table.   


And when the tents are up and customers checked in,  

For the festival kids, the theatre workshops are about to begin.   

She’ll be planning games, writing silly stories and making fun, 

Nothing is too much work for our Vintents Mum.   


Yes it’s true, she might be my sister,  

But mister, she’s a grafter and she doesn’t complain about blisters.  


Port Eliot storms means night-time patrolling the tents,  

You know Clara will be there, completely drenched.  

Her attitude to doing the right thing is somewhat entrenched,  

You’ll never find her sat watching from the bench.     


Smile on her face and torch in her hand,  

If a customer wants a cup of tea their wish is her command. 

From children’s theatre practitioner, to driving vans and cleaning pans, 

Nothing’s too much bother for this one-woman-band.    


And back at the barn she organises like a boss,  

Having worked with the big dogs, she knows what’s what.  

Before coming to Vintents she cheffed for Pods,  

‘Twas there she cut her teeth and showed the trainees how to work harder than the Gods.   


In high demand in festival land, she’s hard to pin,  

A festival veteran at just twentyseven,  

There’s definitely no field that she’d be better in,  

So we count ourselves lucky to have Clara Collett, our Unsung Hero, as part of the Vintents Kin. 

to view the video click here 

Aisha Francis, Proud Events 

She joined us in early 2018 having studied event management and had been working in the industry a couple of years. We totally threw her in at the deep end.

We had been operating as a two person business since 2014 and were desperate for more support and additional resources. Aisha joined with two established bosses and a new one just settling in. We were well into advancing our busiest summer season ever.

By the end of summer our amazing star had:

  • Advanced an entire series of concert festivals
  • Project managed UK Black Pride’s 8,000 person one day community festival
  • Pride Cymru, planning and coordinating their 3 day event in Cardiff City centre
  • Planned, delivered and event managed Ultimate Boxxer number 2

Aisha is unassuming and kind, balancing being terrified by everything (spiders, heights, shopping/food choices, the list is endless!) with an ability to smash out the park everything she does!

Our reliance on Aisha throughout the planning and execution was way beyond her call of duty. Her attention to detail when no one was watching was the foundation of our success. 

Ben Shalom, Founder & Managing Director – Ultimate Boxxer

Aisha is a dream to work with, whether she’s supporting the work you’re doing or leading along side you. There’s nothing she can’t put her hand to, All with a smile on her face and her iconic laugh. 

Calum Kean, Site Manager – Summer House Sounds

Aisha is incredible to work with both in the planning before the event and whilst on site, I don't know what I would of done with out her on all the shows I have worked on with her. Always super keen to get involved and help wherever possible 🙂 

Lee Coulson, Head of Accreditation & Site Office Manager – Live Love Logistics

Terry Marsh - Qdos Event Hire

Terry Marsh’s impressive career in events spans four decades, having worked on pretty much every notable festival, sporting event and national event that the UK has seen. Specialising in temporary accommodation, Terry can list Glastonbury; PGA European Tour – BMW, Senior Open, British Masters & Ryder Cups in 2010 and 2018; Winter Wonderland; Brit Awards; Farnborough International Airshow; New Forest & Hampshire Show; Royal Windsor Horse Show; Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations, Golden and Diamond Jubilee; London 2010 and Wimbledon on his incredible CV.

On a more sombre note, Terry was the key contact for the Metropolitan Police for emergency accommodation and welfare units during the London 7/7 Bombings and the Grenfell Tower Disaster dealing with both situations professionally and with discretion.

Terry was a founding member of the Qdos Event Hire team and played an instrumental role in getting it up and running in 2010 and is undoubtedly a huge asset to the team and the company’s on-going success.

He is well liked and respected by colleagues and clients alike for his reliability, attention to detail, problem solving and knowledge of venues and events. Feedback from clients will often name Terry personally, here is just one example:

 “Terry, who oversaw the whole operation from start to finish, never flinched, …… well not in front of me LoL, at the short time scales, organised a superb crane company and transportation company, (please also pass on my gratitude to both), and generally undertook all requests as required, but most of all for assisting in keeping my sanity….”

Above all he cares, about the product and the experience of the end user. They are very much his cabins and he is extremely proud of them when they are out there, looking their best and doing their job.


Zack Pillinger - Upstream Printing 

I would like to nominate Zach Pillinger from Upstream Printing for the unsung hero nomination based on his passion to revolutionise merchandise within the events industry. The textile industry has a huge problem with it's effects on our planet as highlighted by Stacey Dooley on the BBC documentary; Are your clothes wrecking the planet? Stacey commented 'I feel like we understand what plastic does to the Earth but I had no idea what cotton was capable of'. Zach is transforming the way that Upstream operate by highlighting the ugly truth of the textile industry and encouraging clients to invest in a sustainable range when it comes to their merchandise.  We were incredibly proud this year when one of our clients totally bough into Upstream’s ethos and we had the pleasure of creating a totally sustainable merchandise range for Boardmasters 2018.

The textile industry need more people like Zach who don’t give in to the cheap disposable clothing that has flooded our market. They need to stand tall and use their voice to encourage other events to take responsibility for the impact that their products have on our planet. We encourage all of our clients to take a moment and think about this and ask them the question that most are too afraid to ask; “What does your merchandise say about you?”

It is very easy to take the money and supply an incredibly cheap t-shirt with a very cheap print but it is this attitude which is damaging our planet and that’s not OK. We have a moral obligation as a supplier to educate our clients and to try and turn our industry around by creating sustainable merchandise ranges that festivals can be proud of to the core! We are a small business in the grand scheme of things but Zach has a big voice which is being heard and supported by our customers and with his passion we are hopeful that others in our industry will start following our footsteps.

Graham Thomas - Ascot Structures 

Graham Thomas started Ascot Structures in January 1999. A former lion trainer and member of the Chipperfield Circus dynasty, Graham had reached the pinnacle of his career, working on Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey as the ‘Star of the Show’, filling venues such as Madison Square Garden and other well-known stadia in the US. Following a terrible accident where Graham’s brother Richard was disabled by a tiger bite, Graham left America. Relying on his extensive experience in the world of Big Tops, a marquee business seemed a logical next step. Ascot was born…

Starting with a small handful of traditional tents, fabricated using Graham’s designs, Ascot has earnt a reputation for flawless delivery and unique and interesting tents. Graham has the most incredible approach to both design and delivery. Under his guidance, Ascot has created an incredible array of products and services, including:

  • PVC design and manufacture
  • Design and production of cassette floor, bamboo cassette floor and cassette decking
  • Self-weighted, heavy duty floor
  • Bamboo tents, unique to Ascot
  • Welding capability, including bespoke stillages
  • Integral anchoring system
  • Lifting winch systems, where plant is non-deliverable
  • Worldwide travel to design and fabricate Ascot’s inventory

As a result of Graham’s efforts, Ascot has established an international reputation, and are known as a very safe pair of hands.

Ascot has worked for governments, royalty, the uber wealthy and celebrities the world over. Such is Graham’s dedication, that he can be found at his desk on Christmas Day, or if it’s windy, you can bet that he’ll be onsite even at 0400 in the morning, ensuring that people and equipment are safeguarded. Graham eschews the life afforded most successful businessmen, instead spending infrequent spare time with his family or studying new systems or procedures.

I’m very lucky to have such an amazing business partner, and the UK event industry is very lucky to have Graham – quite simply an industry hero.

“Graham literally immerses himself in our projects and over the years we have been able to deliver ground breaking events because of his willingness to adapt Ascot kit to achieve our vision. He will work with us and our other suppliers in any way that he can, regardless of the time involved or the complexity of our requirements – whether that’s building bespoke structures to fit a space or improving weight loadings, nothing is too much trouble. In a nutshell, he is a joy to work with.”


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