Last week I touched on the South West Women in Business group which I have recently joined. This got me thinking of the inspirational women who are involved in the club, so I’d like to talk this week a bit about a few ladies who have worked for, or have dedicated valuable time and effort to Albion.
The first person I would like to talk about is the amazing Sheila Cann. Most of you, who are familiar with the club, will know Sheila and will have seen her working tirelessly on matchdays and functions. I must admit I do not know much about how long Sheila has been involved, but I know that she has been in and around the club for decades. Turning 80 next year, I am in awe of Shelia and her work ethic, working non-stop from 9am until close every matchday, making sure no stone is left unturned, working is in her blood (even when we do shout for her to go home!). We are so grateful for Shelia and cannot wait to have her back, a true inspiration.
Sticking to the hospitality side, next, we have Nicola Westlake, our Bar Manager. Nicola started off as a cleaner, believe it or not, but we soon realised that with her personality and past experience within the hospitality industry, Nicola would be an asset to our team. When Nicola is on shift, I know we don’t have to worry, something that is invaluable in business!
Next up we have Ali Hannaford, our Chairman. Ali started her successful business, Paramount 21, in 1988 at just 27, hard to believe that that is 2 years younger than I am now! Paramount 21 specialises in providing frozen seafood and vegetarian products to the food service industry and now exports not only nationally, but internationally to the UAE, Australia and Europe. Despite ruining this thriving business, Ali has been dedicating her valuable spare time to Albion since we took over in 2016, not only as Chairman of the board, but also as a mentor for Max and I, providing us with valuable knowledge and sharing her experience within business – Thank you Ali!
Last but almost certainly not least, is my Mother, Liz Venables AKA the real boss. Liz joined Albion 2 maybe 3 years ago and it hasn’t been the same since. She ensures the smooth day to day running of the club and has acted like a pillar through the turbulent times from 2019 – 2021 for everyone, not only off but also providing support to some of the boys on the pitch. Although Liz has only been working at Albion for a few years, she has most certainly been around a lot longer, when Dave Venables was playing for the Club. She has plenty of stories of her collecting the slightly intoxicated Dave (Venables) and Nigel (Sparrow/Director of Rugby) from Beacon Park, not a lot changes, you’ll just find them in the Bidfood Marquee at Brickfields now!!!
It’s quite hard for me to write about Liz without being massively biased, with her being my Mother and all, but let’s just say, she keeps everyone in check and the business moving forward. Obviously we have many other amazing women that work in and around Albion, but unfortunately I simply do not have enough space. I would, however, like to mention Faye Bentley, Chris’ wife as well, who has been a massive help to us on the marketing, branding and sales side (mostly keeping Chris in check!). Faye runs her own successful Design, Marketing and Sales Company, Smithkin Baker, alongside her sister Claire and Chris (Bentley). Incidentally, Faye and Claire are the masterminds behind our amazing rebrand, so make sure you check them out!!
It is so lovely how so many familiar faces from back in the day are back involved with the new era and all these remarkable women will be in attendance at our ‘Grand Opening of The Hub’ on Saturday 17th April 2021. As previously mentioned, all the Board and we hope as many of our amazing supporters as possible, the gates open at 10am and close at 6pm so do come down to Brickfields and say hello! The bar will be open, BBQ fired up and (fingers crossed) the weather is looking good! Max and the team have been flat out preparing the clubhouse, gym and outside space, you’ll also be able to see our ‘Albion Heroes’ Wall. I just can’t wait for you all to see the changes that have been made.