MEMBERS of the beleaguered events industry are banding together in an effort to recover from their worst year ever.

The South Coast Events Forum will speak up for a sector worth an estimated £84billion and 700,000 jobs nationally.

It will bring together event organisers and suppliers in an effort to collaborate and emerge from the Covid crisis with a “more unified, collaborative and sustainable offer”.

Its chair is Craig Mathie, managing director of the Bournemouth 7s sport and music festival.

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Mr Mathie said: “It is an absolute privilege to have been joined in this concept by so many excellent industry professionals.

“In these most challenging times, I have been blown away by the spirit of collaboration and positive approach of our members and the fantastic steering group who will represent them.

“We are full of admiration for everything that has been achieved by the national organisations who represent our industry to government and help to drive standards across the industry.

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“Groups such as the South Coast Events Forum will help us to engage with local decision makers, to influence regional strategy and share best practice with those we work with most regularly.”

There will be monthly networking meetings and regular communication, with a conference planned for autumn this year.

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The not-for-profit forum will be led by a steering group consisting of Mr Mathie and eight other industry professionals:

  • Nicole Richman, owner of NR Event Services;
  • Alan Dove, owner of Dorset’s V-Dub at the Pub Festival;
  • Simon Stewart, who runs food festivals across the south;
  • Garry Wakefield, director of the recently formed Capital Barriers and Temporary Fencing;
  • Gavin Barnard, Fordingbridge-based founder of industry consultants Event Advice Agency.
  • Suzy Wheeler, who runs events and marketing company Strawberry Fields RePresents, alongside her role at Absolute Music;
  • Paul Ashurst, events director at Bournemouth 7s Festival;
  • Adam ‘Ski’ Hart, who champions the industry's “little guys”.

Members of the group include exhibition venues, festival promoters, contractors, agencies and freelancers.

Membership is free and information is at