Happy Birthday, LNOF!
It was LNOF’s 15th birthday last week - and it doesn’t feel like yesterday that I set up the company from my bedroom as a cider-swilling student, working at my enormous PC in my comfy pants. Fast forward 15 years and we have a swanky office in the toon, employ over 40 staff and I now wear trousers and everything.
Before the night got messy
However, it’s not just the disparity between 1999 and 2014 that is huge; I only need to look back to this time last year to see how much – and how quickly - the company is growing. This is the busiest we have ever seen LNOF – in this last year we have almost doubled our staff numbers, we’ve got brand new content and marketing departments and we’ve upped sticks and moved from our modest 4,000 square-foot offices in Morpeth to our plush 15,000 square-foot quayside offices. There’s a real buzz about the place and we’re getting ready for 2015 to be our biggest year yet.
Lego man shadows - one of my special skills
I recently headed down to a ‘Design it Build it’ conference at Newcastle’s Biscuit Factory with our Digital team and our PR guru. DIBI is hosted as an inspirational digital conference and we heard lots of interesting stories from fascinating speakers, including Jordan Casey, who has founded two companies at the age of 14, Naomi Timperley, who featured on Dragon’s Den and Cennydd Bowles, a design lead at Twitter. In an unusual twist, we were all given Lego men on arrival and challenged to get a cracking image. As it turns out, I was owed a favour by a designer friend and only went and bloody won… some more Lego.
World Travel Market
We head to the World Travel Market once a year to build relationships with suppliers and acquire new weekend locations and activities. Being up north in Geordieland, it’s always a mega journey for us getting the train down to the big smoke, but we were up early and raring to go.
The scale of this event is just enormous; held at London’s ExCeL Centre, the World Travel Market is the biggest of its kind and thousands travel to it – even with all those thousands, it took us half an hour to walk the first 100 yards as we kept meeting people we knew in the industry. We had a busy day meeting old and new suppliers and, though knackered, decided to ‘go for one drink’ to wind down. Famous last words. What can I say – this happened. Director, Garry, has never been shy on the dance floor, but he took dancing to a whole new level. And there was no rest for the wicked; we spent the whole train journey back negotiating and planning for the addition of Madrid and Valencia to our 2015 weekend locations.
LNOF are very proud to be sponsoring Newcastle Falcons and their player Andy Saull, and we couldn’t turn down a trip to watch the lads in action last week. A few of us headed down to Kingston Park for the #bringthenoise game. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s part of the Go Bananas campaign – as they attempted to set the loudest rugby crowd, beating 118.5 decibels. And by gum, we did it – though we couldn’t speak for the rest of the weekend.
Wistful glances on the pitch
However, that was all a bit refined and subtle for our LNOF standards so we gave out 150 inflatable bananas to the crowd. We also sent up our lad, Mr. Adam Cutts, to take part in the mascot race – dressed as a pink gorilla (obviously). He made it through his first heat with some fancy footwork but, very sadly, couldn’t follow it up with a victory in the final. Pudsy Bear came out top. Bastard. However, if there had been a steward’s inquiry into the mascot races then our pink gorilla could have claimed obstruction with the Falcon’s mascot, Flash, sitting on him during the final!
Our director, Andy, and his lovely lady, Paula, were kindly invited by our IT Support Partner, Transcendit LTD, to the SEB4CHUF Charity Ball. The pair of them were wined and dined in magnificent style at the Gateshead Hilton and enjoyed a wealth of entertainment and great craic. BBC Newcastle’s Alfie Joey was compare for the night and there was live entertainment, raffles (didn’t win a thing), auctions (the bidding was serious) and lots of acrobats (naturally).
CHUF – Children’s Heart Unit Fund - do some amazing work and are certainly worth every bit of support that we can give them. Hats must go off to both Nadine and Ivan, who have needed the help of some very clever people at Newcastle Freeman Hospital. They are an inspirational couple with a truly inspirational little boy, and we certainly hope we can help to support them more and more over the coming years.
And that's all for now, folks - I've got birthday cake to eat before the rest of the staff get their mitts on it.