That headline by the way isn’t just me saying that. That was taken from a tweet sent a few days ago, which I’ll get on to in a bit.

Firstly, you may have noticed there has been a lack of posts recently on DGB over the last few days. That was because planning for the second NFA Winners Event was much more extensive this year, due to the fact it was bigger. So once it was all over and the dust had settled, you can appreciate how tired the whole team will have been. I simply did not have the energy or drive to open up the laptop. I allowed myself a few days to recover, do things totally unrelated to the NFAs or DGB, put my feet up and recharged the batteries.

I’m back up to where I need to be and ready to start writing again. So I think I’ll start by telling you all about the second NFA Winners Event which took place on Thursday.

NFA Winners Event – Round 2

Yes this was indeed the second NFA Winners Event, where we were celebrating the winners of the 2015 campaign. The 2016 campaign is well under way, as you may know, and if you click here you can get involved.

Oulton Park Building

The venue was once again Oulton Park Race Track. We held the first event at this track in March of last year and the feedback was so good we felt we simply had to do it again. Except the event itself was bigger, and in my opinion much better organised than the last one.

After the first one, which was a huge learning curve as we had not really planned anything like this before, we learned what we did right and what we got wrong. We focused on the things we knew we needed to improve on, and in the end, and judging some of the feedback, we believe we nailed a lot of things we wanted to get right second time round.

Toyota GT86 Rally

Anyway. The winners of the 2015 campaign were treated to a day racing Toyota GT86 Rally cars (sponsored by Kolorseal) across a large, cross-terrain rally stage. They raced in a timed and mirrored circuit in the superb Caterham 7. And their wits and concentration was tested in a grueling off-road course in Land Rover Defenders.

As there were more category winners this time round, attendee numbers were higher. We had to factor this in during the planning stages. At first, I could sense there was an air of caution, perhaps some tentativeness. There were a small number in the room that had done this last year, but with most of the 2015 winners brand new, they had not idea what was in store.

So as the groups left and came back after their first session and tucked into the superb lunch that was provided, there was a real buzz and energy. No more caution, all excitement. It was great to listen in on some of the chatter.

Lunch passed and out the groups went for their afternoon session. This gave the NFA team and myself time to get the room ready for the evening awards ceremony and party. We didn’t have one last time round, and this was something we learned from last year that we had to do. It also meant a lot more planning was involved. Perhaps that’s why I was significantly more stressed and on edge than last years. The whole event from morning to the end was much bigger, both in numbers attending and the things that had to be planned and arranged in the right order. I was anxious to ensure that everyone enjoyed their day and night and that plenty turned up to take part.

In the end, I had nothing to worry about. So as the winners and main event sponsors buzzed back into the Fogarty Moss Centre for what would be their third meal of the day by this time, I was enjoying listening to the comments and the feedback. Then I saw this tweet from Clayton Glass, winners of the 2015 IGU Manufacturer category:

I was over the moon with that. I know how hard the whole team have worked to put on an event that winners and sponsors would be happy with, so to have Clayton Glass give such a positive response is very touching.

The evening

NFA 2015 Trophies

As I said earlier, this was the first time we had planned a structured evening event. This meant we had to be a lot more organised. There was much more to sort and plan for. Transport for guests between hotel and back at the venue. Entertainment for the evening. Equipment for the evening. Who would compare? What food would be needed? There was the bar to sort out – which was kindly sponsored by Brouha Marketing, Solidor and Prefix Systems.

This was again a learning curve for us all. But judging by the atmosphere and mood of the room, I think we got it right. For those who organise these kinds of things all the time, my concern and anxiety over the whole thing might have seemed naive or childish. But when you haven’t really done something on this scale before, you worry. Lord knows the stress Matthew Glover and his team will have gone through in organising the FIT Show!

The evening consisted of an hours drinks/social networking, before the first half of the awards were given out. Then a break for more superb food and then the second half of the awards were presented to the winners. There was a live band on throughout the evening and at midnight a very lively coach took guests back to the hotel for an impromptu after party. A brilliant evening had by all, with a few sore heads I’m sure in the morning!

It is at this point I want to thank all of the sponsors involved with the NFAs. Our main sponsors; GQA Qualifications, The VEKA UK Group, Window Ware, Kolorseal. Our data providers in Windowbase. Our site and Winners Event bar sponsors in Solidor. Our 2015 Winners Event bar sponsor Brouha. Our brand new 2016, category and Winners Event bar sponsor Prefix Systems. Our official Cool Wall sponsors Liniar. Without input and backing from companies like these we simply would not be able to put on the superb race day Winners Event that Oulton Park did such a good job of coordinating.

I also want to give a personal thanks to Ian Miller of The Independent Ratings Company. He was there in an official capacity, but was like a fifth member of the team, on hand to help in any way he could. If you’re reading this Ian you already know how appreciative the team are for your help that day.

Also, I want to personally mention Sophie, my better half. Whether you knew it or not, she is in charge of events and finance for the NFAs and she was the sole reason much of what happened in the 2015 Winners Event actually happened. She’s far smarter, far more organised than I’ll ever be and her effort in being the event coordinator, as well as being part of the evening entertainment as part of her band and the million other things she did that day ensure the whole event went off without a hitch.

The future

I don’t want to go into too much detail on DGB about the next Winners Event, as that will all be announced and explained on the NFA website very soon.

But one thing I will say is that we have had more than one comment along the same lines as the Clayton Glass tweet above, and we intend to build on the positivity and momentum and ensure that the Winners Event for the 2016 is announced earlier, and involves even more of the industry.

We have already had a number of existing sponsors renewed, with brand new companies agreeing to come on board and help grow the NFA Winners Event into one of the must-attend industry events of the year. The number of companies involved in sponsorship is growing every year, and with it so do the NFAs and the Winners Event that follows to celebrate the winners. If any of you reading this are thinking of getting involved, now is the perfect time!

One thing we will always ensure to do with the NFAs is to keep the awards honest, transparent and engaging at all levels in the industry. We will always make sure that the Winners Event is relaxed, fun, all-inclusive and different to everything else in the industry. We listen to the feedback and tweak and improve as we go. We’re not perfect, nothing is, but we always strive to be better.

The NFAs are now into their fourth year, which is weird for me to read as I type that! The NFAs are going nowhere. The second Winners Event was bigger than the last, the third will be bigger and better than the second. I feel like we’re really starting to make waves with it, and I would love to involve even more of you as the years go on. So don’t be afraid of change, or trying something different. The NFAs are here for everyone!

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