Pam Twissell on how her job in the event office pans out in a “normal” year
I have worked for Jane Tuckwell, the event director, in the event office for about 22 years and my main responsibility is to send out the passes to all the officials including the doctors, vets, paramedics, and fence judges, together with all the ones for the tradestands and hospitality and so on.
I was a PE teacher when my children were at school but I have always ridden and my children were members of the Pony Club and hunted with the Berkeley. We used to go to Badminton every year when
I was a child, and I in turn would take my children.
My job here started when a friend asked me if I could help in the box office during the event, and it was wonderful to be involved in something that I had enjoyed so much over the years. When I drive down the lane at Badminton, I always think how lucky I am to work here.
Having a sense of humour is a great advantage with my job. Without that you might be thrown when someone comes to you on the day of the event and says they have lost their pass. If they ring up and tell us it hasn’t arrived, we have to be really patient even when they have waited until the last minute to tell us.
Usually you ask them to have a look and nine times out of 10 the passes turn up. The tradestands are the ones that are apt to mislay their passes. You get the odd person who comes along once the event has started and says, “I’ve lost my pass,” and you say, “Oh really,” and try to sort something out for them.
My job is very much behind the scenes. Although I have seen lots of well-known people in passing and The Queen was once watching while I was there, I don’t tend to meet any of them. I do enjoy meeting all the different people to whom I have sent the passes and putting faces to the names. You see people year in, year out and it is interesting to see all the different characters who make up the event.
Badminton hasn’t changed much in the time that I’ve worked here, except there are lots more additional competitions going on like the grassroots, the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse, the Shetland Pony Grand National and the stallion classes, so there is a lot more administration surrounding those these days.
The entries for the horse trials have remained the same. They like to have about 80 competitors and there is always a waiting list, but there is a good chance that you might still get to go if someone else’s horse is withdrawn at the last minute. Competitors are taken off the waiting list until the Sunday before the event. The horses have to arrive at Badminton by the Wednesday.
On Sunday evening before the event, we move all our files and boxes up to the office in the grounds. Those travelling from abroad, such as foreign visitors, riders and their vets and trainers collect their passes on arrival from the office so a lot of our paperwork during the event revolves around them.
There aren’t many irritations at work. I am lucky to work in a great team at the event office, with Jane in charge and four others. When Badminton is on you are just pleased to get up to the ground and see all the happy people. It is satisfying to know that you have played a part in that.
The best part of my job is when we get up to the ground and everyone has their tickets. Then you think you have cracked it.
It is such a shame that Badminton won’t happen this year. Ordinarily I would start sending out the officials passes at the beginning of March – a mammoth job which takes me until the end of April – but the decision to cancel was made before that. All we can do is look forward to next year’s event and hope that it will be better than ever.
● As told to Tessa Waugh
This feature can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 29 April
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