Opening Ceremony - National Summer Games 2013 | ZiaBia
Face To Face Event Management
Special Olympics GB

Opening Ceremony – National Summer Games 2013

Special Olympics GB are proud to be the country's largest provider of year-round sports training and competition programmes for children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities.

7500 people
Royal Crescent Lawn and Royal Victoria Park
Bath, England

Established in 1978, SOGB offers the opportunity to take part in quality sports training and competition, to improve lives and in turn, the lives of everyone they touch. To facilitate this, during 2013, Special Olympics GB planned for the following – to establish more sports clubs and grow more local, regional and national competitions, in addition to working in partnership with existing local mainstream sports groups and helping to make them inclusive for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. They did this through the National Summer Games, with a focus on the South West, as a region and now the legacy will continue.

Working with Vicky on this project has been an absolute pleasure not least because of the thorough, calm and professional way in which Vicky approaches every aspect of a project. Vicky ensured clear and regular communication between all parties / suppliers involved at all times and I therefore felt confident from day one that our project would be delivered successfully within tight timescales and budget – which indeed it was. Vicky’s energy and enthusiasm is great and ensures everyone also enjoys the experience. We will certainly be using ZiaBia again for future event project management.

Karen Wallin
CEO, Special Olympics

The Brief

Special Olympics GB are proud to be the country's largest provider of year-round sports training and competition programmes for children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities.

Special Olympics GB were holding their 9th National Summer Games in August 2013, scheduled to take place in Bath. This was to be the first time they were organising the whole games in house and it was established that an external project manager was required to be responsible for the Opening Ceremony.

Vicky Gardner (ZiaBia) had been recommended to SOGB CEO Karen Wallin, by Emma Allerton of Sporting Hosts (sponsor for the games). The role was to work on behalf of Special Olympics GB on a consultancy basis, advising, supporting and organising the Opening Ceremony on their behalf.

The role specification was to work hand in hand with Bath and North East Somerset Council and the Royal Crescent Society, as their land was being utilised for the event. In addition, to confirm and work with all other suppliers that were required to make this even a success. This involved negotiating on costs on behalf of Special Olympics and sourcing local companies that could offer the charity 'Value in Kind' support as well.

This was a unique event for 2013 in Bath - it was the first time that an Opening Ceremony was not being held in a stadium. As the location was so different and a blank canvas, it required a bespoke project plan, as all resources had to be organised, licences applied for and a temporary structure built.

This ranged from sourcing and managing a production company to build the stage and seating area, along with producing the 'show' - to hiring toilets, facilitating deliveries, arranging water and concessions, barriers, signage and trakway.

An important element of this brief was surrounding Health and Safety and crowd management, as during the show well known guests would perform. Due to the fact we were working in a public park, we needed to source a security partner who could manage this area seamlessly - Safe and Sound were appointed, based locally in Trowbridge.

Speaking as the Chair of the SAGE (Safety Advisory Group for Events) group for B&NES it was both an honour and challenge for my Council to be chosen to host the Special Olympics in 2013.

The complexities of arranging two major events - the Opening Ceremony & the Families Evening - were made easier for my colleague Linda Todd, who performed the "One-Point-of-Contact Role", by working with both Vicky and Debbie from ZiaBia. As a team we worked professionally and positively on responding to the complexities of both events which involved significant numbers of people and the consequent logistical issues. What drove us on was the collective desire to ensure that the athletes and their families had the best experience in the City of Bath. We achieved this by regular weekly meetings in which we all learned from each other's areas of expertise. Between us Linda and I guided Vicky & Debbie through the statutory challenges which resulted in positive plans, which laid the foundations of both events. In terms of delivery - not everything always goes to plan - but as a team on the day we met those challenges and dealt the the technical problems that occur at every event whilst ensuring that our objectives were met in full - and they were; and everyone had a brilliant time! As for ZiaBia - both Vicky and Debbie want to do more large events and I look forward to working with them again in the near future!

Geoff Dicker 
Senior Health & Safety Advisor, Bath & North East Somerset Council
Live camera feeds were focused on each team and projected onto large screens as they entered


The event build started on Monday 26th August and continued until the morning of Wednesday 28th August 2013. Key suppliers were on site from these dates to create and construct the infrastructure and attend key project meetings.

As with the Olympics and Paralympics, traditionally the athletes would parade around the stadium, but this was not possible. Instead, the seating blocks were designed with 5 ingress points and the 17 delegations were introduced team by team to take their seats from the area where they had been waiting. Live camera feeds were focused on each team and projected onto large screens as they entered for them to be celebrated.

The ceremony itself, had several highlights: The reading of the Olympic Oaths, the arrival of the Flame of Hope and the lighting of the cauldron.

2 local MC's hosted the ceremony and entertainment included Claire Teal, Colin Salmon and Susan Boyle. Clyve and the Soul City Foundation, a local band, performed the song they had written for the 2013 games.

ZiaBia were instrumental in working with SOGB and allocating and planning volunteer requirements. In excess of 500 SOGB volunteers were involved and some of these took key supervisory roles on the day. ZiaBia managed and briefed the volunteers in these supervisory roles, who then managed their teams. They supported for ingress, searing, back stage during the show and egress of the delegations.