Alana Marie Almond – Events Executive
What are your responsibilities?
I organise and deliver Chatham Historic Dockyard’s two annual fundraising events – Festival of Steam and Transport at Easter and Salute to the ‘40s in September. Plus a really special community event at The Royal Dockyard Church in December called Christmas Carol Concert. I am involved in primarily THD Facebook pages and engagement, plus assisting with other social media avenues.
How long have you worked at the dockyard?
I joined on 8th October 2008 – nearly nine years this year!
Name a fun fact about yourself…
I have always been interested in extreme sports and challenges fundraising for a number of charities. Prior to working with CHDT I was challenged with a number of interesting and hair raising experiences…I skydived 13,300ft over the fields of Cambridge, abseiled 230ft down Cabot Square Office Block at Canary Wharf, walked 15m along hot coals, surfed for an entire day on the shores of Cornwall, trekked 15km across rainforest/desert on Fraser Island and walked a 75 mile beach in Eastern Australia. I worked on a project in Kutakala, Western Africa and helped fundraise to build the village school and assisted in teaching the children learn English.
Describe a ‘normal’ day for you?
Normal? Here? Well, alongside speaking to a real variety of characters, re-enactors, entertainers all itching to attend or be part of the events, my day can involve booking Spitfire air displays to designing WW2 set dressing, programming live music and entertainment, booking in hundreds of vintage and classic cars, planning event displays, organising everything from vintage afternoon teas to gun boats on the River Medway.
What is your biggest accomplishment whilst working at the dockyard?
To be able to ensure the longevity of both the large annual fundraising events is something I take great pride in – to add value to both and appeal to a wider range of audiences and bringing thousands of visitors to site who would not otherwise have visited here. They are both highly profitable and it gives me great pride to see their success after many years of hard work.
To be part of the team that delivered the first ever National Armed Forces Day was quite the challenge, we had over 30,000 people on site that day in 2009. This was quite an achievement.
However, my biggest accomplishment was when Salute to the ‘40s was voted ‘One of Britain’s Best Vintage Festivals’ in 2014 by the Daily Telegraph.
What is your memorable moment working here?
Easter 2016 we held our annual fundraiser the Festival of Steam and Transport. Unfortunately across the country there were dangerous high winds and torrential rains. After a year of planning EVERYTHING had to change a day before the event! There were marquees blowing across the site, the stages had to come down, traders were losing their entire stock, entertainers could not travel on the motorways and the turn out on displays was about 80% down. It was verging on a complete disaster; this is a memorable moment because the Team and I were able to turn this event around and the show DID go on! I reduced the show into a smaller area and made some of the entertainment undercover. Good quality customer service meant that our visitors were still smiling, even in the hail and rain! The team worked so hard to make this happen and I was incredibly proud of how we turned it around to make sure our visitors still enjoyed their time. Whatever the weather, the show did go on!
What is your favourite fact about the dockyard?
HMS CAVALIER is known as the ‘Fastest of the Greyhounds’ – Built in 1944, HMS Cavalier served in the Arctic, Western Approaches and British Pacific Fleet before finally paying off at Chatham in 1972. Today she is preserved as The National Destroyer Memorial commemorating the 11,000 lives and 142 Royal Navy Destroyers lost during the Second World War.
She is one of 96 war emergency destroyers HMS Cavalier currently resides in No.2 Dry Dock on the site of the Old Single Dock, where the Royal Navy’s most famous Chatham built ship HMS Victory was constructed. A fitting location for a vessel once known as ‘the fastest ship in the fleet’. We fire a full broadside twice a day at Salute to the ‘40s in September.
What is your favourite gallery/exhibition/attraction at the dockyard?
We certainly are a place like no other…I would not like to say I have a favourite area as such (although the Ropewalk and Commissioner’s Gardens are up there!) but my favourite overall thing about THD is how you feel as soon as you step on to site. There is an overwhelming atmosphere of the history that it holds. Your imagination runs wild as you can picture and learn about how the site would have been used throughout time…and still, to this very day!
Sum up the dockyard in 3 words…
Possibilities are endless but…Awe-inspiring, Magnificent and World-Class