Following a very busy first half of the year which saw large numbers of Jemmac country-hopping for various site trips it was finally time for us all to get together for another of the company’s celebrated team building days.
This year’s venue was the Land Rover Experience at Rockingham Castle coupled with an overnight stay at the very fancy Rushton Hall, Kettering. We last visited the Land Rover guys in 2014, so a return trip was in order to put the fresh blood in the team through their paces.
The day started with us all making our way to the Land Rover Experience East of England HQ in the glorious sunshine, to be greeted by the magnificent sight of a bacon butty (or the veggie option; a delicious plate of biscuits freshly picked from the packet with a side of banana).
After a quick safety briefing we were split into our four teams and off we went into our various top of the range Land Rovers and Range Rovers to be ferried to the start of our first activity. There were four activities to be completed on rotation by each team in the morning session. Careful attention needed to be paid to the instructions since we would be awarded points for the same activities in the afternoon session with several coveted trophies up for grabs.
There were two Land Rover drives; one being an off-road ‘safari’. This involved traversing the rocky terrain and navigating steep inclines and great pools of murky water, trusting the huge vehicles to keep on track and do what they do best while the helpless passengers faced the sheer drops. Concentration was needed to avoid the wooly quadrupeds which happily lay in the road. Clearly they had absolutely no doubt that we were in full control. The second was an assault course of hair-pin bends, ‘axle twisters’ and mud banks which had to be crossed at and almost 45-degree angle, scary enough even at 4mph.
The Can-Ams were a firm favourite on our last visit and this was the case again with the many petrol heads among us being able to let rip and speed across the open fields and woodland whilst making the most of the highly technical windowless air-con system on what was an already scorching hot morning.
The final activity was archery, this came much more easily to some who were already quite handy with a bow and arrow and as it turns out compete in archery competitions (ahem Sarah). For the most part, the rest of us were novices, although some great direction from the instructor meant that we were quick to make big improvements. After a steady start Kevin became a pro and wouldn’t give that target a break by the end of the day! The loser here was the poor rabbit who we were actively encouraged to shoot (plastic of course).
After a non-stop morning it was time for a little recuperation by way of a buffet lunch before getting straight back into the lovely air-conditioned vehicles and then into a repetition of the morning’s activities, only this time judged. Points for driving were awarded for good control of the vehicle as well as keeping hands correctly placed on the steering wheel, with Sally getting top marks.
In archery, each team had three rounds to gain as many points as possible to add to their total before having another go at the by now pretty miserable bunny for extra points! It must have done something to really enrage one team as Matt, Lauren and Sally all succeeded in hitting the pointy-eared target.
Once the afternoon’s activities were wrapped up it was back to base to see who had the skills to be awarded a highly desired trophy. The winning team turned out to be that of Hayden, Lauren, Matt and Sally with Harvey, Kath, Kevin and Mark, as runners up, harbouring absolutely no bitterness what-so-ever and duly presenting them with their awards.
Highly competent driver Lauren took one for the girls and won the ‘Driver of the Day’ award, while Al lost his title as the ‘Don’t Give Up Your Day Job’ award winner to Graeme. Being recently retired he fully intends to keep to this!
After bidding farewell to the Land Rover team, we all hopped back into our cars and adjusted to road driving again to get to our final destination; the Rushton Hall Hotel, Kettering.
Now as many know, the Jemmac team are famed for being trendy and glam and hanging out in swanky joints, but this was a step up even for us! Rushton Hall is a stunning 15th century manor house built by William Tresham, Attorney General to King Henry V, and is set in beautiful manicured gardens.
On the agenda was ‘free time’ which for some of us meant a refreshing beverage in the quaint courtyard garden followed by a leisurely dip in the spa pool, for others some card and computer games were the pursuit of choice, whilst Al and James S stoically embarked on their traditional away day run; just a casual five miles in the blistering heat!
Suitably relaxed, refreshed and redressed we headed on down to what must have been the wedding suite complete with chandeliers for our indoor BBQ dinner. This was a feast of meats and salads followed by delicious desserts and complemented by high-brow conversations about the day’s escapades.
Following pud, some of the team set up camp back in the hotel courtyard with an evening refreshment whilst another contingent hotfooted it the nearest hostelry. We were greeted by bar staff who kindly informed us that it was closing time (at 9:30pm) so we duly sat in the pitch black and enjoyed our local beverages al fresco until, some time later, the bemused land-lady appeared from her other pub and turned the lights back on and offered us another round. Great work that lady!
The next morning it was a leisurely breakfast (with another swift dip in the pool for those who were a bit keen) and a catch-up with almost everyone making it!
After checking-out it was time for business with a Jemmac Bi-Monthly meeting – well we thought we’d better do some work! The morning whizzed by in discussions and a great talk by Graeme on his two ‘pet’ drones.
Before we knew it, it was time for a quick snackette before heading back home to spend the afternoon as we so desired. As a parting gift we were each given some official Jemmac merch in the form of a smart shirt and a fancy named water bottle!
As always, thanks go to Sally and James W who did a fab job organising the event with proceedings flowing seamlessly from arrival to departure!
Quotes from the day:
Kevin: “It was a really great time, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the events, but trusting the cars to handle the way down some of the steep slopes was surprisingly nerve racking.”
Lynne: “Really enjoyed the Team Building event this year and very relieved that, despite being in Al’s team, I didn’t end up getting wet!”
James N: “A brilliant day in the breathtaking surroundings of Rockingham Castle. All the activities were great fun, whether behind the wheel or not! Overall, a great team building day.”
Hayden: “We had a great day in Rushton, being tested on our off-road driving abilities. It felt like being on your driving test again! I especially enjoyed the built in massage chairs which the Range Rovers had.”
Graeme’s drone footage of Rushton Hall: