Jessica Harris Edwards, Event Coordinator and Marketing Executive, tells us just what it takes to put on a members' event.
How long have you been at ROSL and how did you hear about the club in the first place?
I didn’t actually hear about the club until my first interview with the recruitment agency ROSL use – the advert was simply listed as ‘members club’ under the Arts and Humanity section of the Guardian. After the first interview, I ended up texting my friends about how it went and mentioning the organisation – it turned out two of my friends were already younger members here so they gave me a great inside perspective on the organisation and the team here. I’ve been here now since February and I must say so far it is living up to their praises.
Can you describe an average day?
What I love about this job is that no two days are ever the same. With events, the calendar is constantly moving and different things require my attention. One day I might be doing site visits and another day I might be making a thousand paper flowers for the summer ball. There are some parts of my day which stay the same, such as taking event bookings, keeping up our social media presence and drinking copious amounts of coffee, but for the most part my job means each day is a unique and exciting.
How do you marry the events programme with the ethos of the club?
Honestly, it’s not really a conscious thing. ROSL’s ethos boils down to friendships that can survive distances, cross generations and defy social barriers. With that sitting at the heart of the club it’s easy to create events which are an opportunity for different groups of people to come together and continue to foster those relationships: the key is to just make sure there is a variety to suit different types of people.
As a history graduate I naturally drift towards events like the walking tours and anniversary events, but since joining ROSL I have also really enjoyed working with the Commonwealth Secretariat and fostering those relationships more and putting on the summer ball which tends to be themed around ROSL’s connections to the arts, its history or the Commonwealth. I’m really looking forward to our Wuthering Heights ball next year: the Bronte’s were an exceptional group of women, plus it’s one of my favourite time periods – the Georgians!
What events do you have planned for the next 12 months?
I’ve split the events next year into three core themes: Commonwealth, Women and Memory. We’re going to be a part of an exciting calendar of events with the Commonwealth Secretariat to celebrate CHOGM starting with our usual Commonwealth Day celebrations. Our theme of women is in honour of the first women to get the vote 100 years ago and will include concerts, talks and our summer ball. The third theme is memory as we commemorate the year WWI ended with our usual battlefield tour. I’m also planning on transforming the club back to the early 1900s for one weekend in late October so members can see for themselves what part the club played in the war efforts.
Most of our events will relate in some way to one of those themes but I also have a few exciting new types of event I want to try out on our growing membership including family orientate events during school holidays and weekend trips to visit some of our UK branches and their beautiful cities.
How do you spend your time when you're not in the club?
I’m a historical reenactor, so I spend most of my free time charging around on horseback with a sword in full armour. I tend to work mostly with English Heritage and the National Trust, though I do freelance work across Europe too. I was actually one of the Black Brunswick Hussars at the big 200th anniversary of Waterloo when ROSL were doing a tour of the area – it’s a small world!