The Meetings Show
Emirates Old Trafford
Smart Group - Electric Xmas

How to make the most of large scale employee awards


Daniela Corizza, PA to the MD at Blue Diamond, one of the UK’s largest garden centre retail groups, reflects on the challenges and successes of organising an awards event for 650 employees.

Every March, Blue Diamond hosts an event to celebrate the achievements of the business and its workforce. “It’s an opportunity for us to give back and reward our staff for their work throughout the year,” says Daniela Corizza, who is PA to Blue Diamond’s MD.

As the business has been growing, Corizza was tasked with finding a venue that would be large enough for 650 of Blue Diamond’s attendees. She says: “We wanted to find a venue that represented us as a business – we aren’t corporate and we like to do things differently. We wanted an events venue with a point of reference and character – not a big exhibition hall or conference room. It was important to find an event space that matched our ethos and vision.”

Large scale employee awards need a a stand-out event space

In the search for a stand-out venue, Corizza came across Athena, an Art Deco heritage venue located in Leicester’s cultural quarter, which is less than an hour from London by train. “We really liked the 1920’s theme and theatrical art deco appearance of Athena. We had never gone for a themed awards ceremony, so we wanted to do something different this year. Coming back into trend are palm plants, which fit the 1920s theme when indoor plants grew in popularity, so Athena was the perfect venue to incorporate this aesthetic.”

Corizza added: “Venues that hold such a large capacity are few and far between so Athena stood out in that respect too. It is also centrally located in the UK, which works for our business as employees are scattered across the country.”


Daniela Corizza, PA to Blue Diamond’s MD

Event challenges

With the planning and execution of any event, one of the major challenges is ensuring that all stakeholders work together effectively and efficiently. Corriza says: “It is important to find common ground with everyone you are working with to pull off an event. Some plans had to be changed at short notice, but the events team at Athena were seamless in pulling this off so it did not affect the event itself. Their experience in the event space really shone through and it was very clear to us pre-event and during it just how good they are at what they do. They have experience in such a wide range of events that meant that they could expertly advise us, based on experience, on how our ideas would work in reality, which helped to bring our ideas to life.”


One of the key measures of success for event planners is in the feedback from guests during and after the event. The overwhelming feedback from Blue Diamond employees was that it was their favourite awards ceremony to date, extremely well planned, executed and all ran smoothly and on time. The service was the best guests had seen.

“Choosing a venue with so much experience in back-to-back events really showed from the extra support Athena provided. They were extremely hands on, which made my job easier and the whole planning phase less stressful. They really understood what we wanted and worked with us to execute it or make it even better.

“The staff were really friendly and got involved by dressing up to fit the theme which we really appreciated – we felt like we knew them well even just after just a few days. Cost wise, Athena is very well priced. The value is exceptional for the quality and service and they are very transparent in their cost model and event packages, with no unexpected add-ons. We will take our event back there in a year’s time with a new theme.”


PA Life has its very own awards – PA Life Star Awards 2023 are open for all UK PAs, EAs and Office Managers and will be announced this summer.