David Parkin on an amazing Sky experience, Where’s Wally and meeting the Ant and Dec of business

David Parkin on an amazing Sky experience, Where’s Wally and meeting the Ant and Dec of business

THOSE who watch Game of Thrones will look at the photograph above and think: “At last, a strong, stable ruler who everyone can look up to has united the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and ascended to the Iron Throne.” And those who don’t are thinking: “What’s that tosser pratting about at now?” Well fans of Game of Thrones are probably thinking that too. The Iron Throne, the centrepiece of HBO’s blockbuster Game of Thrones series, was one of the stars of the show at an event held by broadcasting and telecommunications giant Sky at Leeds Arena this week. We were involved in organising the day-long conference for 3,000 staff who work in its Home Service division – fitting dishes, broadband and wi-fi. It was a fantastic opportunity to work on a big, exciting project, although slightly daunting given it was the largest event Sky has ever put on in its 28 year history. But my colleague Liz Theakston is a logistical genius who has masterminded a number of major events and ensured that this one was a huge success. I did what I was told and also tried to inject a little humour to help relieve any pressure. Although Liz didn’t laugh when I suggested that ever since she’d been given a walkie-talkie the power had gone to her head and she’d “gone a bit Cersei Lannister”. Unless you watch Game of Thrones, or GoT as it’s known, you won’t know what I’m on about. The ambitious project was the brainchild of Carla Stockton-Jones, Sky’s director of Home Service who loved bringing an event of this magnitude to her...
David Parkin on bubbly with Bublé, D-Day tributes and Harry Gration gets the horn

David Parkin on bubbly with Bublé, D-Day tributes and Harry Gration gets the horn

“YOU can’t beat a bit of Bublé,” said Debbie Dobson of Dakota Deluxe Hotel. Or DD from DD as I know her. I don’t mind Michael Bublé but I’ve only ever heard his stuff on the the radio or on CD, I’ve never really seen him performing. So I was delighted to accept an invite to join Debbie and guests in the Dakota box for Bublé’s performance at the first direct Leeds Arena on Monday. I think I needed the bubbly on offer before the performance given that I walked into a conversation between Leeds United fan Alan Syers of property group Evans and club legend Tony Dorigo. They didn’t seem very sympathetic that Leeds United’s play-off conquerors were beaten by Aston Villa at Wembley. I munched on a canape and tried to sound magnanimous. That’s difficult through gritted teeth. While Leeds United might not be in the Premier League yet, they certainly have Premier League hospitality thanks to Debbie Dobson, who hosts guests in the chairman’s lounge at matches at Elland Road when she’s not doing her day job as director of sales at the Dakota Deluxe. It is one of the reasons why she has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award at the Leeds Hotels & Venues Association annual awards later this month. Anyway it was then off to the arena for a sold out performance in front of an audience of 12,500 people. Backed by a 35-piece orchestra and three singers, Bublé performed for two hours non-stop. Take a touch of Frank Sinatra, sprinkle in a soupçon of Elvis, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and Bobby...