This time last month we were out for the day visiting Tony Benger in Axminster – the company had two weeks previously won an award at the Pro Landscaper Business Awards and Tony hadn’t been able to attend due to being on a skiing holiday so we wanted to congratulate him in person and find out a little more about the business.
Little did we know that a month later we would be isolated in our homes, unable to see our family – grandparent duties suspended and worried about our elderly parents – one set over a thousand miles away in Malaga and the other just a few miles away. The irony of this is that however near or far we aren’t able to visit either for the time being.
My last trip out of the house was the APL Awards on Friday 13th March, always an excellent event and although there was indication that COVID-19 was becoming a threat in the UK, we made the decision to attend as planned. It was apparent on arriving at the awards that people were becoming aware that we should start to take the threat seriously but little did we know what was soon to come. Being a ‘huggy’ person, it was extremely difficult not to greet friends and colleagues in the usual fashion, some of us just went ahead anyway and others were adopting the ‘elbow bump’.
It was a great afternoon of celebration, achievement and endorsement of all that’s good in the landscape industry. There was (thankfully) little talk of coronavirus other than the observation that the roads were quieter than usual and around 70 guests who had decided against making the journey to attend the event. We had a few conversations about the forthcoming FutureScape spring event which was just a few days away – people were excited about the day to come, and although we didn’t extend our celebrations at the pub afterwards, we were looking forward to seeing everyone in just a few days’ time.
Saturday morning dawned and so did the massive realisation that if we were to go ahead with FutureScape spring, we could be exposing clients, colleagues, speakers and visitors to this deadly virus. So all of Saturday was spent in consultation and resulted in us postponing the event. The venue agreed to look at a future date, sometime in July was a firm possibility for Sandown –we realised this is unusual for the landscape industry but neither was any of what was currently unfolding, on the plus side it would be nice to host a summertime event and after all the threat we had all started to face, it could be just the tonic we all need. This postponement has obviously had huge implications on our business, but we couldn’t have been prepared for the massive wave of support we got from suppliers and others involved who vowed to stand by us, even though some of them had already invested so much into their stands, marketing materials and accommodation – another endorsement of the brilliance of the landscaping industry that we love so dearly.