The dual theme for the 14th Channel Awards is Formula 1 racing and the TV
programme Top Gear - but don’t expect Lewis Hamilton to turn up, he has
apparently moved to Switzerland.
Do, however, expect everyone who is anyone in the UK IT industry to be there and for the whole night to be fast-moving - accelerating from ‘nought to sixty’ in super-fast time. As ever, it will be a big night and regardless of who ends up winning, More than 1,800 guests will be celebrating another year of hard work, continued growth and success.
This prominent evening in November has become the channel’s annual year-end bash. There will be plenty of company parties and partner get-togethers to attend before the Christmas holidays, of course, and the Channel Awards has now become the kick-off event for the party season and the one party that everyone wants to go to. If you are an industry networker, being there is almost a matter of life or death; if you are a party animal, it is much more important.
This year’s event will be similar to previous years, but there will be few complaints from Channel Awards veterans, all of whom will testify to this being the biggest and best night of the year. As well as the invaluable networking opportunities on offer, there is a four-course dinner - with each course miraculously served almost simultaneously to each one of the guests - before the entertainment and award-giving begins.
After a short welcome from CRN’s newly appointed editor, Sara Yirrell, the celebrity guest will be announced and the awards presentation will begin. As ever, the identity of this year’s star presenter will remain a closely guarded secret until the night and no amount of bribery of the CRN editorial team will do any good - although guessing is always part of the fun. This year the hints point to the possibility of there being more than one familiar figure from our television screens gracing the stage - and something of a surprise on the night. Apparently, it could also be a tough year for the hecklers.
Whoever makes the shortlist announcements, it is the final result that matters most to those in the running. The 90 minute-ceremony is what everyone who has made it onto this year’s shortlists is waiting for and, despite the fact that the champagne and wine will now have been flowing freely for more than two hours, the tension is always high.
“Stepping up to collect an award is a moment to savour, but it is also important to see the accolade in terms of its true and lasting value,” said James Ward, managing director of Hammer, who last year accep-ted the Storage Distributor of the Year award on behalf of his firm.
“You should enjoy the moment and make the most of everything that comes from it - the heightened profile, the praise, the success and the priceless knowledge that it has been voted for by your customers, which is a huge accolade to the business. There is no doubt that the accolade of receiving a CRN award has enhanced our profile in the industry. Simply put, it is a stamp of recognition from a wide range of customers, partners, peers and suppliers, which is invaluable,” he said.
In the past, the tradition has always been for just one representative to accept the award on behalf of their company and have photos taken with the presenter. Last year, however, the excitement got to one or two of the more ebullient winners and whole teams of people descended upon the stage. They were certainly having a good time and it did not seem to make too much difference one way or the other.
To make the awards ceremony even more enjoyable, if that is possible, some tables have been known in the past to place bets on who will win. Everyone marks who they think will win on their awards brochure and then the person with the highest number of correct guesses wins. With 22 different awards to be won, it is worth having a go.
It takes some time to read out the shortlists and announce the winners of all 22 awards and clear the celebrating recipients from the stage - and with whole tables making their way up last year, it took a little longer to get to the final Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards. Once these are handed over the awards ceremony is over for another year, but the party is only just beginning.
A live band emerges, seemingly from nowhere, to play a set of classics and get people onto the dance floor. This year it is a 70s and 80s tribute outfit called Planet Pop (www.planet-pop.com). Elsewhere there are other themed entertainments designed to divert the racier guests and those who want to live in the fast lane - or even those who simply want to relive their childhood (or never left it behind in the first place).
In the spirit of surprise, all the specific details are being kept under wraps until the night, giving everyone something new to discover and something different to try - if they have the courage, and by this time of the night, plenty of them will have more than enough.
Of course, there is also a bar - to find it just look for the most crowded area of the venue in the latter stages of the evening.
After the band has done its stint, the partying carries on at Battersea Park until 2am, after which buses are available - for those who wish to carry on - to take guests on to the Pacha nightclub in Victoria, where the party continues until 5am. There are one or two stalwarts who claim that, rather than going home to get at least a couple of hours rest, or just taking the day off, they simply head straight back to the office. Hopefully they also have showers and changing facilities available.
The Channel Awards evening is a long night - but one that flies by. Before you know it you will have sped through the whole course of the evening and it will all be over for another year. But, like the effort that you make throughout the year, it will all have been worth it.
So to recap, the evening schedule is as follows: 7pm pre-dinner champagne reception begins; 7.45pm guests take their seats for the four-course dinner; 9.45pm the awards presentation hosted by the mystery celebrity guest commences; 10.45pm the awards party kicks off with a live band, plenty of bars to choose from and some other fun activities; 1.30am carriages arrive to take the hard-core party animals onto Pacha in Victoria for the after-show party, which will go on until 5am.
The Channel Awards is also a great opportunity for readers to meet the CRN editorial team. “My team and I are really looking forward to catching up with all of our key contacts at this year’s awards, as well as making new ones, so please feel free to come over and introduce yourselves to the CRN team,” said the magazine’s editor, Yirrell.
For further details on this year’s event visit: www.channelawards.net
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