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JK 2024 through the eyes of the organiser Andy Yeates

We caught up with Andy Yeates at Day 1 of JK 2024 and after the event to chat about the planning process for this year’s event, how the team overcame obstacles and what his highlights were from the weekend!

How did you find the overall planning process of JK 2024?

Happily, the overall planning process came together fairly easily. Once we had the areas sorted out, it became clear that a single organiser, planner and controller for the two Beaudesert days would work best. Fortunately, the people I approached to take it on were agreeable. LEI were happy to take on Day 1 and DVO were happy to take on Day 4. Then it was a case of sorting out which clubs would take on significant roles for Days 2 and 3 alongside WCH. With OD and HOC out of the question as they were heavily involved in the British Sprints, we worked together with WRE and POTOC.

There was a shift of assembly area/car parks for Days 2, 3 and 4 from our preferred first choice. The Activity Centre on Beaudesert did not want us to cross their new fences in any way, so that made it too difficult to plan to get in and out of the Centre. The Stanton Moor field we wanted was being sown for crop, so the landowner didn’t want us in there. Fortunately, we found alternatives, both new sites.

Can you give us an overview of how each day unfolded from your perspective?

I felt a great expectation for the weekend. When you have lived with the event for 2-3 years, the weekend itself flies past very quickly and I tend to flit around the various sections making sure there is nothing wrong. The only problem with Day 1 was the failure of the remote microphone and having to carry the speakers across the grass towards the prize giving. The organisational team were magnificent.

I was really worried about the parking situation on Days 2 and 3, and not just because of the last-minute road closure. If it rained on Day 2 especially, then we could have been in trouble despite the 750m of track matting. However, the sun came out, the ground slowly dried up and the Day 2 team carried on the benchmark set by Day 1.

Day 3 started foggy, but most importantly, no rain. I had to remind myself to stop and look around during the day to soak in the atmosphere and see people enjoying themselves. The JK is truly a special event.

Finally, Day 4 arrived and so did the rain. This didn’t put any dampeners on the event, and it all went like clockwork. I was relieved and very proud of what the teams of volunteers had achieved – a thoroughly professional job.

Was there anything that you would do differently looking back?

Not really. I had coordinated two previous JK’s – 2018, and 2022 – so I mostly knew what to expect. Maybe delegated a bit more.

Are there any recommendations you would give to those who are looking to plan future major events?

I act as the major events consultant, and I am available to assist as much or as little as you want. If you want advice, just ask.

What were your highlights from the weekend?

Seeing how well everything worked on each day. There were issues that needed sorting out, but the teams rose to the challenge without any fuss.

Finding out that the landowners were very happy with the way orienteers behaved on their land was also a huge bonus to help maintain that relationship for future events. So, I thank the teams of volunteers for all their hard work, and the competitors for making it the best experience we could wish for. I especially appreciate the notes of thanks received from so many of you. Thank you all.

Andy Yeates