Case study: Dynamo North East – Flying the flag for the North East tech economy

Dynamo is a membership organisation made up of tech companies, large North East employers, consultants, technology hubs, education providers, local government, and suppliers. Their mission is to achieve regional tech growth, promote the North East externally, develop skills and education, and support regional research and development and team at Dynamo believes that there is no limit to the North East’s tech potential. That’s where we come in. Ten years after BeaconHouse Events delivered the first-ever Dynamo conference, in 2023 we now curate and deliver a number of flagship events every year and have become a trusted partner of the Dynamo board and directors.

How it started

Dynamo was our very first BeaconHouse client back in 2014 and we have worked with the team ever since to deliver world-class events designed to grow and connect the North East tech scene, with a focus on collaboration, innovation, and skills. Back in 2014, the Dynamo founder approached us to develop and deliver their first annual conference.  ‘Dynamo 14’, was expected to attract 200 delegates, but a combination of vision, teamwork, persistence, and determination resulted in over 350 attendees coming together to discuss the future of the North East tech economy. Not only that, the BeaconHouse team delivered a programme of 80 speakers, doubled the sponsorship target, and created a complex and well-received programme that we have continued to build on year after year.

Flash forward and we have gone on to bring to life an increasingly busy events programme across the year, including the highly-anticipated Dynamites Awards, held right here in the North East each November.

What we deliver 

Across the year the Dynamo account team researches, develops, and delivers a wide range of events to excite, celebrate, and shout about the achievements of tech and IT businesses operating across the North East. This includes:

The Dynamites Awards     

Now in its 10th year, the annual Dynamites awards are a staple in the North East tech calendar. It’s a chance to celebrate the top talent in the North East’s IT and technology and regularly attracts over 500 guests, filling the Banqueting Hall at Newcastle Civic Centre. The team at BeaconHouse Events provides event marketing, guest booking and management, sponsorship generation and relationship management, budget management and cost control. Together with the management of the judging process, script writing, and production, production of staging and AV, venue management and liaison, and venue dressing. Months of planning go into making this a night to remember. In 2017 we introduced the ‘People’s Choice’ Award to the evening, putting the power in the hands of the regional community to choose their winner. The hugely popular online vote received almost 1300 votes in just 4 days, but it was host Daymon Britton who stole the show, stepping on-stage in a pair of orange speedos after a creative piece of theatrics thought-up by the BeaconHouse team left him ‘racing’ towards the event…

Year after year we challenge ourselves to outperform the previous event and ensure that the Dynamites have a lasting effect on the North East tech landscape.

Annual Dinner 

2023 heralded the 7th (two missed due to Covid) Dynamo Dinner, and every year it has been the go-to networking event of the spring season in the tech community. With over 120 guests attending each year, the Dynamo Dinner is a true celebration of the North East’s thriving tech sector and a chance for guests to network and connect with others in the industry. Over the years we have taken over some of the most iconic venues in the North East, including The Mansion House, Wylam Brewery and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – creatively using each space to inspire people to share ideas, collaborate, and build new relationships. BeaconHouse is responsible for the execution of the event from start to finish, including finding the perfect venue, creating a vibrant menu, and curating experiences to surprise and delight guests throughout the evening.

Dynamo Conference

From 2014-2022 we worked with Dynamo to research, set up, launch, manage, and deliver the hefty annual conference in the Northeast. The event attracts hundreds of delegates each year from the region’s leading and growing IT and software companies, local councils, specialist professional services, universities/colleges, and other related industries to help shape the IT and tech sector in the region. Traditionally held in person, the conference shifted to a fully virtual approach in 2020 to allow for maximum engagement from Dynamo members across the region. Speakers and attendees were able to connect in the comments and during breaks take time to view the Expo booths and speed network. The content was recorded and made available shortly after the conference for delegates and members to experience all of the content from the day. Overall the team at BeaconHouse managed over 915 minutes of content, 77 speakers and over 200 attendees, and 10k impressions online it was a fantastic showcase for tech in the region! In 2021 we went for a hybrid format allowing people to come back together in smaller numbers, or join virtually to allow for maximum comfort and flexibility.

The evolution of TechNExt

In 2023, after 9 successful years of bringing the Dynamo community together, BeaconHouse led the strategy and vision to create a more impactful, more purposeful and more engaging festival for the north east tech sector. By creating the value proposition and pitching this to Dynamo directors the team secured headline sponsorship and curated and project managed a programme of events delivered across the north east region, over a week.


Alongside the delivery of the events, the team leads sponsorship generation for the larger events in the annual Dynamo programme, namely the Board Dinner, Conference, and Awards. The commercially successful nature of the key events that we deliver ensures the longevity of our relationship and gives the potential for further growth in the future, including expanding the cluster events programme to give even more people access to inspiration and ideas.

Due to the nature of the client’s work in the North East, most events are delivered here in the region. However, the impact of Dynamo on the tech landscape of the North East has meant that we have created events that have been hosted in London, including a Cluster Launch at The House of Lords!

Working together

As well as planning and delivering the Dynamo events portfolio, the BeaconHouse Events team supports on a strategic level and works alongside the Dynamo North East board to identify the vision and aims for each year, curating and evolving the event programming to fulfill the required achievements. The Dynamo team takes the lead from our experts and is incredibly receptive to new technology and innovations being incorporated into events, allowing us to push the boundaries of what is possible and deliver new and exceptional delegate experiences, even after a decade of working together. From evaluating events live using technology to adding a Peoples Choice selection to the Dynamites Awards, the Dynamo confidently trusts BeaconHouse’s expertise and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for our partnership.

What the client says 

“Tech has historically been thought of as a sector in and around London and Dynamo is here to change that assumption. There are such great companies and great success stories here in the North East and BeaconHouse Events play a key role in making sure that the region, the UK, and the rest of the world are paying attention.

“Over the past ten years, BeaconHouse Events has been integral in making Dynamo the success that it is today. They have established themselves as an indispensable extension of our team and continue to work closely with the board to craft a full programme of self-sustainable member networking events for 10 years. Two of the stand-out events BeaconHouse have taken from concept to delivery are the hugely anticipated Dynamo Dinner, and always sold out Dynamites Awards. Working closely with the Board, BeaconHouse has been instrumental in gaining additional funding for Dynamo, allowing the expansion of the core Dynamo team, and evolution of the North East tech calendar, including our major annual celebration – TechNExt.  .

Dynamo’s future includes an enhanced number of events to encourage networking and collaboration; more perks and benefits for members, and new attempts to get more people to celebrate the successes of the region’s tech sector we are excited to work with Sarah, Sophie and the whole BeaconHouse team as we continue that journey.”

David Dunn, CEO of Dynamo and Sunderland Software City 


What makes a great awards ceremony host?

Without proper thought and a bit of creative thinking, awards ceremonies have the potential to lose momentum after dinner has been served and the drinks are flowing. While it is tempting to opt for the tried and tested favourites for these kinds of events, for the Dynamites Awards 2023, we wanted to change the format slightly and have two co-hosts, your traditional regular-on-radio-four comedian to warm, the audience, and a host who brought something different, would be a break from the norm, and could captivate over 450 of the brightest, and best tech minds in the region. Enter, Duncan Leatherdale. Duncan is an award-winning journalist and writer working for the BBC in the North East, and we knew that he would be the perfect fit for the 10th annual Dynamites Awards, as our ‘roving reporter’ bringing the action to the tables throughout the ceremony. We chose Duncan because of his ability to hold people’s attention with his lighthearted interview techniques, to keep the room energised, and to ensure the packed evening schedule ran smoothly with some fun along the way.

Speaking about his experience of hosting Dynamites 2023, Duncan said, “Being involved in the Dynamites was a real pleasure from start to finish. Considering the number of guests and awards, the whole thing ran super smoothly and everyone involved was welcoming, friendly, and, most importantly, fun. You could say the Dynamites went off with a bang!”

Despite being his first time hosting the event, feedback on Duncan’s ability to engage and entertain the audience was fantastic, and it got us thinking about what makes a fantastic event host. We asked the team what they thought…

Stage presence 

Some people just have a natural charisma and you can tell they were just born to be on a stage. They can make everyone in the room feel included and can hold people’s attention among a whole host of distractions (including alcohol!). A host who can create a positive atmosphere and pick up a crowd when there is a lull in the evening is gold dust. If they have a passion for what they are doing, it can be contagious!

Poise under pressure 

Live events can be stressful for those working them, and there is always the opportunity for something to go awry. Choose an event host that you are confident would remain professional and collected in the face of something unexpected – which can happen more often than you think (a great host will just make the audience never know there was an issue). They should be a great time manager and be aware of keeping the schedule moving to pace; work closely with them in advance to discuss the flow of the event, timings of speeches, and how to transition between segments and then trust them to do the rest.

Great communication skills 

A great communicator will have the ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. Find someone who is articulate, well-spoken, and can convey sometimes complex information about the businesses in the room in a clear and accessible way. There is nothing worse than a disinterested host who has their nose stuck in their note cards for the whole event. Whether they are telling an anecdote, introducing a speaker, or presenting an award, a great host will keep everyone informed and excited about your key messages.

A quick thinker 

Events can be fast-paced and there may be some details that change at the last minute or a live situation unfolding needs to be handled with a bit of quick thinking to address. Find a host who will notice, understand, and react to an unfolding situation quickly and fittingly. Appropriate humour and a bit of quick wit can go a long way to diffuse a situation and will give the audience a laugh at the same time.

Well researched 

While it would be helpful for your host to have a working knowledge of the sector for the event they are hosting, you want a host who has put in the leg work to research the key players in the room, and businesses in attendance and understands the key reasons why the event is taking place. We’ve all been to events where the host has stumbled over names or fumbled what businesses do. The trick to being a great host is to start before the event itself so everyone in the room feels like their work is respected and appreciated.

A team player 

Ultimately, your awards evening is about your guests, those shortlisted, and your winners, and you don’t want someone who is all about taking the limelight for themselves. A great award host will be generous and make delegates feel like the most important people in the room, especially if they have to come on stage to present or receive an award. Before and during the event they also need to work closely with the events team, venue, and technical crew to make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone knows what is happening and why.

Do they make sense? 

There are plenty of agents online who peddle their high-profile or celebrity clients as awards hosts – but do they actually make sense for the event and the people in the room? Sure a famous sports star might be a cool name on the agenda, but even with a good script can they carry a conversation about your sector with enthusiasm and authenticity – maybe not. If you do go for a high-profile name make sure that there is a valid reason for them to be there, maybe a link to your region or an interest in the kinds of work you deliver, otherwise, it can come across as a little superficial.

To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

Ready to rock: meet our co-founder Catherine Duhaut

First things first, how did you get into events? 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve organised people. I used to buy Top of the Pops and Smash Hits magazine and I’d read about these big celeb parties I remember thinking that that would be a great job, but not realising that people did that in real life. Staying on the showbiz theme, I went to the University of Sunderland to study Media Production to work in film and instead fell into radio which I loved. The course was mainly centered around production which I found fascinating, even in school I would build the stage sets for the drama productions rather than be front of stage.

My studies led me to some amazing work experience at XFM and BBC Radio One which I loved, but being impatient and (overly!) ambitious I decided that if I couldn’t have my own show on Radio One straight away… I would develop and produce music festivals instead, which led me to my Masters degree in Project Management. I didn’t realise going in that an MSc in project management is less about music festivals and more about engineering and manufacturing, which I ended up really enjoying! I wrote my dissertation on the difference between event management and project management and talked about the disparity between the two which led to a volunteer role at a Newcastle-based events agency, which is where I met Sarah!

What was your first role in events like?

I was coming in pretty blind, working minimum wage with zero experience, far more people arrived than they thought were going to and I ended up operating the bar (my by-night job!), I guess my resourcefulness paid off as I was hired off the back of that event. Before I finished my masters I had a full-time job at an events agency, which was too good to be true. I led a tough double life for six months managing the two,  I knew if I was serious about building a career in the sector I had to make it work. I ended up working at that same agency for six and a half years and gained a tonne of experience in organising and running events across the UK.

After I left, I freelanced for a while before the workload got a little much and Sarah and I joined forces in 2014 and BeaconHouse Events started to form to be the business it is today.

BeaconHouse Events turns 10 next year, how does that feel? 

Sometimes it feels like much longer than ten years and other times it feels like two! There have been a lot of life changes over that time and sometimes it is hard to wrap our heads around how much we have fitted into the last ten years. When we started we didn’t have this grand business plan or an idea of what the business would look like today, we have grown organically over that time but what has never changed is the mission and vision of what we wanted to deliver when we started the business. When we work with new members of the team to explain our values and mission now, it is so authentic because it is what we have been living and breathing for almost a decade – it has been embedded in the culture from the start.

Have you always been entrepreneurial? 

It’s funny because I would say no, but my parents would probably say yes! “Typical” entrepreneurial traits have always been part of my make up, such as I’ve always enjoyed organising people and could maybe be a little bossy with it, which I can now see coming through in my eldest daughter! I’m also quite competitive and ambitious which I guess are considered to be entrepreneurial traits too, but I never did a business degree or economics or sought out life as an entrepreneur. That’s where the partnership with Sarah works so well. Sarah tends to look after more of the business and strategy side of the business whereas I focus on the processes, operations  marketing and culture. Sarah excels in the parts of the business where I don’t – while I have big ambitions for BeaconHouse Events and have a real interest in the story of where our growth is coming from, I’m less inclined to spend the necessary time with spreadsheets. I think what Sarah and I have is quite unique – people will often look for a business partner after they have gone into business and my best advice would be that you can’t seek them out. If you have an affinity with someone and want to start a business, that’s great – but it’s difficult to build that rapport and trust if there isn’t already a relationship there.

Neither you nor Sarah are from the North East – why is this region a great place to do business? 

We both had personal reasons for settling in the North East and building our business here. I had met my now husband in Sunderland – I’m from Northern Ireland, and he’s French, so there was a conversation to be had about where we were going to call home and we settled on England because it was kind of in the middle…kind of! I wouldn’t change my home now for the world and I’ve not officially lived more of my life as a Geordie than in Northern Ireland these days. The North East has such a supportive, collaborative culture that it was the perfect place to start and grow BeaconHouse, and while we are fairly Northern-focused with our portfolio, the last few years and the rise of virtual and hybrid events have really shown us that we can be delivering work nationally and globally from our base here in Newcastle, which is really exciting.

What is coming up in the future that excites you? 

For me, it’s the ESG work that we have been focusing on and building on our ‘Good Workplace’ credentials. It is exciting to be delivering great work with a clear purpose of why we are doing what we are doing. Part of what we believe is that we want to create events with lasting purpose, those game-changer events where people go away with a different mindset to when they walked through the doors – and the other side of that is building an environment for a thriving team who can work together to make that happen. Creating events with meaning is still what excites me, especially when we work with a new client for the first time and we can exceed expectations about what is possible, seeing the team go above and beyond to create an experience that will have real-world impact for a client never gets old, and as we grow we’re able to be even more creative and ambitious about what we can deliver.

Do you think the events sector would benefit from more diversity? 

Absolutely. If we want to keep being creative and driving forward, we have to have that diversity of thought in the sector. Everyone in our team comes from different backgrounds, of varying ages, and have different career paths and experiences which has shaped how they see the world. Even having younger members of the team join has helped us positively challenge the way that we work and how we communicate with each other and deliver work for clients. Having access to more ideas and points of view will only make us more creative and the more diverse we are as an industry the more resilient we are and the better equipped to create experiences that are meaningful to everyone.

What do you think the most important character trait is for an events professional? 

Whatever your background I think it is really important to be curious about the world and want to be inspired by getting out and experiencing things. Our events aren’t boring and that comes from our team bringing all of their experiences to what they deliver. For me, I love food and have been lucky enough to eat in lots of different places all over the world. Transferring that experience to an event, would typically mean challenging the venue to create something brilliant, rather than your run-of-the-mill meat and veg that you might expect. Curiosity and a desire to challenge the norm and to do things differently, combined with an attention to detail and a good work ethic will get you a long way in events.

We offer training for the team and if there is something that they want to do, even if it seems a bit left-field, so long as they can tell me what they can bring from it back to the team I’m more than happy for them to go and try something new if they’re excited about it.

And finally, who would your dream client be? 

For me, I like the ‘challenging’ events – where a client comes to us to solve their problem and we have to solve the puzzle of how we are going to do it. That could be any type of event or sector, having the scope to be creative about what we deliver and seeing the client’s mind change from thinking something wasn’t possible to being excited is my dream scenario.

I’ve come a long way from where I started, I doubt very much I’d even pitch to organise something even remotely like Glastonbury any time soon! I’m much more likely to attend than seek out to be the organiser!

To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to deliver events with purpose in 2024 and beyond, email

More than a pat on the back: The true benefit of corporate award ceremonies

Awards ceremonies offer much more than a vanity project and a chance to get dressed up, and when done right they can hold significant value for your teams, serving as a thank-you for hard work throughout the year, celebrating your success together, and creating a sense of camaraderie within your team. Let’s take a look at how investing in awards can add value to your organisation in 2024. 


Building morale 

Celebrating hard work, great ideas, or teamwork sends a clear message that these positive actions have been noted and rewarded. By saying thank you, you are not only boosting the morale of the winners but also sending a clear message that great work doesn’t go unnoticed and inspiring other members of the team to challenge themselves with their projects too. Saying thank you to individuals and teams for excellent work that has helped the organisation work towards its goals instills a sense of pride, and people who feel like their work matters form the bedrock of thriving teams who are creative, resilient, and much less prone to burnout. 


A chance to reflect 

Everyone is busy, and we rarely take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months and applaud the achievements that we’ve made. Writing award entries, nominating colleagues, collecting stats, or reading client feedback gives people a chance to think about the impact that they have made on the company or your clients, it can reaffirm their commitment to the company and the work you are doing, lead to higher levels of engagement in the year ahead, and create a more positive atmosphere when work gets busy. 


Bringing your team together 

In the age of remote or hybrid working and global teams, some colleagues may not get the chance to spend time together in person very often. Hosting an awards event not only gets people in the same room, but it can also be a chance to share stories from other parts of the business that individuals might not usually hear about if it falls outside of their immediate role. Seeing the skills of the company and learning from other departments can make people feel proud to be part of something bigger, making them much more likely to stay and engage than if they feel like they are working alone. Plus, it is always nice to get off the video chat, get dressed up, and meet colleagues in person. 


Increase productivity and creativity

Recognition can act as a powerful incentive, and so can a healthy dose of competition! Celebrating success, creativity and innovative thinking can create a culture that can have big conversations, tackle difficult problems, and aren’t afraid to try new ideas. Showing people what great work looks like can help them set higher standards for the coming year and positively challenge themselves and others. 


It gives your team something to talk about 

Your people are your best asset when it comes to talking about your business, so give them something great to talk about! A well-designed awards night won’t be a boring run-through of categories and a soggy dinner. A great awards ceremony will keep your delegates invested throughout the night, have activities or talking points to keep them engaged, and provide plenty of opportunities to share their experience with friends and family. By giving people a reason to talk about where they work, particularly on social media, you are increasing awareness of your brand as a great place to work and reinforcing your investment in your talented team, both important things if you are looking to attract and retain staff. 


Showcase your network 

An awards event doesn’t just have to be for your internal team, why not consider a celebration of your sector, your clients, or your neighbours? Getting external teams together is a fantastic marketing and networking opportunity, plus it gives you a chance to be inspired by other businesses and showcase what you have been working on too. 


Struggling with what to wear? Check out our guide on what Black Tie means in 2023


This season our team has been working hard to bring to life the Dynamites – the highly anticipated North East Tech awards, as well as the Planet Mark Awards in London and the very first HyHubs HyHeroes Awards at TyneBank Brewery. To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

Lost in translation: meet our co-founder Sarah Thackray

BeaconHouse Events turns 10 next year, that is a huge achievement! What was your driver to start your own business? 


I wanted to be able to take the learnings from my experiences working in the sector and use them to create something better than what I thought the sector was doing already; something that had a positive impact on the people working to deliver the events, that offered a great experience to clients and that fit with my ambitions for the future. One major driver was being able to choose the clients that I wanted to work with, clients who were delivering great work that I believed in! We didn’t set up BeaconHouse Events right away after leaving my last role, I initially freelanced from 2009 before Catherine and I eventually co-founded in 2014. We knew each other from a previous role and prior to setting up the company we had been collaborating on some client accounts, The Great Run Company and Dynamo, and the rest is history.


A lot of your team have very varied careers, have you always worked in the events industry? 


I studied modern languages at Newcastle University and lived in France and Spain running walking tours and lugging equipment around for tour groups in my early twenties (which was when I realised that I really liked organising people!) and teaching English to Spanish kids. However my first “proper job” was in HR services with Proctor and Gamble, specialising in relocation management for colleagues that were heading overseas on special project assignments, which again was heavily focused on logistics and detail. I’ve always been ambitious and although I enjoyed the job, working for a large corporation just wasn’t going to allow me to progress as quickly as I wanted to. Months earlier I had emailed an events agency to ask if they had any roles available and the managing director reached out and invited me in, and I’ve been in events ever since. 


Have you ever looked back after starting your business? 


I haven’t ever looked back, but I do think I could have easily had a corporate career path rather than an entrepreneurial one if I had joined a graduate scheme or been on a path where I could have progressed quickly. I felt like I didn’t have a path having studied languages and knowing I didn’t want to be a translator or a teacher (!), but I like the structure of corporate organisations and I thrive when I am being pushed to achieve and do more. Owning my own business was never the plan, but I always go with my gut instinct for where I can achieve more or take the next step – after joining my previous agency as a co-ordinator and leaving as head of events, the next logical step was to start up my own business and set those challenges for myself there. I’ve immensely enjoyed growing the business with Catherine and there is always something new to learn or understand which keeps things interesting. 


What did you want to be when you were growing up? 


I wanted to work as a translator or at the BBC in backstage production! I always loved languages and I grew up living close to White City so those two careers seemed the obvious options for me. I studied Modern languages at Newcastle University but I think if I was to go back and choose again, I would probably pair languages with something like business. I’m quite a practical, hands-on learner so I want to understand how things work in the real world, rather than just the academic side. My degree taught me a lot about Spanish Literature in the 15th Century, but that didn’t really float my boat and needless to say I have never used it in the real world!


You’re a little more removed from the day-to-day delivery these days. What are you enjoying most about your role at the moment?


We have this incredible, experienced, trusted team who are delivering fantastic experiences for our clients, which gives me more time to work on the parts of the business where I think I can add value. I spend a lot of time developing relationships in the region to champion the North East as a great place to do business and growing our new business pipeline which allows us to offer more opportunities for our team and our clients. Currently, I’m leading the agency’s ESG strategy which is really exciting! I was clear from the start that I didn’t want to make grand statements and big promises, we are simply committed to working with our team, our suppliers, and our clients to make consistent, considered changes that will move us closer to our goal of ethically offsetting our carbon, both within the agency and through the events we deliver. 


The inclusion of financial resilience was important to me, and I want the strategy to be realistic so we can keep delivering great work and providing opportunities for many years to come. Without a robust business model, you simply don’t have the capacity, skills, or resources to invest back into the wider community. I’m proud that recently we have aligned with organisations that support our vision and supported a range of community initiatives in the Northeast, including Groundwork NE, The Children’s Foundation, and funding kits for the newly formed North East Sporting u11 Saturday team, based in Wallsend. 


It can be a hard balance to find your place when you aren’t doing as much direct delivery anymore, which in an agency is what you are there to do. It’s important to trust the team to do what they are great at and use my skills elsewhere, they joke that I would just get in the way anyway! 


What do you think would surprise people coming into the industry today? 


The misconception is that you can spend all of your time flouncing around on-site and looking after glamourous people because often all you see from the outside is the finished product of the event photography and video. You have to be a good all-rounder, 90 percent of the work is done at your desk planning, working with your team, and preparing for onsite delivery. It doesn’t matter how senior you get; the admin doesn’t go away I’m afraid. It’s not just being able to turn up and talk to people on-site, attention to detail is incredibly important, combined with the ability to communicate and build positive relationships with people – whether that is clients, suppliers, venues, speakers, or your team. Events are all about people so it is important to understand how to work as part of the team which can sometimes span multiple countries and time zones depending on the event you are creating. 


And finally, who would your dream client be? 


I love big government events! I enjoy the complexity of delivering events with high-level stakeholders. Events that make a statement, like the TechNExt festival which we created alongside Dynamo and Sunderland Software City, is the kind of experience that I enjoy being part of; it has something to say and makes a difference in the sector. I do enjoy pushing the events sector forward, whether that be through our ESG ambitions or through initiatives like the Good Festival Ambition which was created as part of TechNExt 2023. While there are D&I policies or environmental agendas in silo, there isn’t anyone else looking at what makes a ‘Good Festival’ in a holistic sense, and I’m excited to develop that more and see where we can take it. 


Sarah has two children and two stepchildren and lives by the sea with her partner and family. To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to meet your ambitions in 2024 and beyond email 

The North East charities we’re supporting as part of our commitment to health, education and economic growth

This year our team has chosen to support health & wellbeing community projects across the region, including funding The Children’s Foundation-led Fuzzy Subjects project, giving the charity the ability to give even more children access to sessions focused on mental health and well-being. Alongside support for Fuzzy Subjects, we’ll also be getting our hands dirty helping to plant hedges on the charity’s allotment and wrapping Christmas gifts this festive season, all in support of the charity’s vital work in the region.


Linked to the health & wellbeing focus, and as part of our further commitment to North East communities, we’ve also chosen to fund kits for the newly formed North East Sporting u11 Saturday team, based in Wallsend. 


Alongside our societal donations and as part of our environmental strategy, we’ve partnered with the local community and environmental charity, Groundwork NE & Cumbria to ethically offset our carbon impact by supporting Groundwork’s nature-based solutions programme.


As our societal focus for 2023 is on health & wellbeing, we recognise the need to support local charities and initiatives to help our local communities thrive. We are therefore committed to donating the equivalent monetary value or time through in-kind support, to local community groups focused on health and wellbeing, to match our ethical carbon offset donation to the environment. We’re also providing the BeaconHouse Events team opportunities and time off to support societal and environmental projects that matter to them, as well as encouraging them to engage in activities that support their mental health & well-being.


Earlier this year we were proud to be awarded the Good Work Pledge from the North of Tyne Combined Authority. This award recognises our efforts to be a fair employer, our commitment to staff health and wellbeing, and our demonstration of social responsibility in the region. We have some incredible projects in the pipeline this year and these ambitious plans will mean more opportunities for people across the Northeast.” 


We spoke to Sean Soulsby, CEO of The Children’s Foundation who said, “We are incredibly grateful to the team at BeaconHouse Events for their support of our work here in the North East. We run our Fuzzy Subjects mental health workshops in primary schools across the region, using colorful, accessible fuzzy puppets as a tool to engage children and young people in the subject of mental health and well-being, increasing awareness, understanding, and resilience in young people, while encouraging big conversations. The support from Beaconhouse Events means that even more children can tackle these big subjects, at a time when the number of children in mental health crisis is at a record high. 


“The Children’s Foundation was founded over 30 years ago to support the needs of children and families at the time, and those needs are now more significant than ever. Businesses owe it to their communities to ensure that they have the opportunity to raise well-rounded, creative, confident, and aspirational children, no matter what their economic circumstances are, and it is fantastic to see BeaconHouse Events taking their responsibilities as a Northeast employer seriously. 


“Far too many Northeast children are born into poverty and our region has fallen behind others in terms of school attainment and health inequalities. Investing in our region isn’t just a fluffy, nice thing for leaders to do; if businesses don’t invest in the wider communities and issues that surround them, especially children and young people, then that has a direct impact on their workforce or customer base of the future. It is people who make up businesses and leaders today must understand the crucial role that they play in shaping what our regional society looks like tomorrow.”


Our ESG strategy is based on key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, which look to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Our strategy particularly focuses on Climate Action, Responsible Consumption and Production, Quality Education, and Good Health and Wellbeing; all areas where we can have an authentic and lasting impact both in the North East and across the events sector as a whole.


How to keep your delegates in high spirits – even if they aren’t drinking

Sales of non-alcoholic beverages saw a surge this year, and there has also been a rise in demand for spaces and activities that aren’t centered around booze, particularly some Generation Zs and millennials, who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Half of the UK adult population bought a no-alcohol or low-alcohol product during 2022, boosting volumes by 9% last year, according to the IWSR, and sober night-clubs are becoming more mainstream as people look to have fun, without the headache the next day. A sobering thought if you are looking at planning your next corporate event.

Catherine Duhaut, co-founder and director here at BeaconHouse Events said, “There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to drink; health, driving, recovery, religious beliefs, pregnancy, or just simply because they don’t want to, and I think we need to move away from the stigma that if someone isn’t drinking it has to be noted. As a sector, we need to be more inclusive when it comes to offering alcohol-free refreshments and activities that are just as good, or even better, than their boozy counterparts. Gone are the days of being offered a warm lemonade, or worse, a free Prosecco but you have to pay if you want a soft drink (yep, that happened), as an acceptable alternative. Post-conference get-togethers are sometimes where some of the best conversations happen, and it is our responsibility to make everyone feel comfortable and included, not just those who want to drink.”

We spoke to the team here at BeaconHouse and they shared their top tips for creating an inclusive event that doesn’t center around drinking.

  1. Offer tasty alternatives 

From delicious mocktails and non-alcohol like Sipsmith Gin, or Caleño Dark & Spicy rum, to low-alcohol like Brewdog Lost AF (0.5%) there are plenty of enjoyable options that look and taste just like the real thing. If you are offering a welcome drink, make a non-alcohol version readily available so delegates don’t have to ask and serve non-alcoholic drinks in the way you would serve an alcoholic beverage – just because it is 0% doesn’t mean it can’t look stylish and you won’t be able to tell the difference. You could even set up an interactive station where people can customize their drinks and have a bit of fun with their concoctions! Provide a selection of fresh fruits, herbs, and mixers, and let your delegates enjoy creating their signature drink.

  1. Knowledgeable staff 

Choose venues, bartenders, and servers who are knowledgeable in alcohol-free options, know how to mix a great mocktail, and can recommend the best flavours to go with your dining options. A great venue team will make sure that drinkers and non-drinkers get the same level of care and attention during the event. Ask the team to consider how they are communicating the alcohol-free options so people don’t feel ‘other’ if they are ordering from that menu.

  1. 0% networking

Plan opportunities for delegates to get together post-event outside of the bar. This could be organising a walking tour of local sites, mini-golf, or holding post-event get togethers at a local independent coffee-house. Keep your guests busy and engaged and they’ll soon forget they don’t have a drink in their hand.

  1. Keep your guests entertained 

Focus on the experience that your delegates are having while they are with you, and give them plenty of things to do to keep them entertained, and spirits high. Depending on the type of event you’re designing, this could be live music, dance instructors, craft stands, pinball machines, photo booths, or trivia games – just get creative.

Remember, the reason why people may choose not to drink varies, and it is a completely personal choice as to whether they choose to consume alcohol or not, it is our role as event planners to make sure everyone is comfortable, feeling confident, and having a great time, regardless of what’s in their glass.

For more information on how to create an event that your delegates will remember, contact or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

Client Case Study: Opencast People Engagement Programme

From the moment they give us a brief we let our imaginations run wild to meet and exceed expectations. Seeing the company grow at such a rapid rate encourages us to deliver bigger and better events with every new addition to their calendar, becoming an integral part of their team, sharing their aims to develop an award-winning culture and create experiences that help their people to flourish.

So, how do we work alongside one of the best tech employers in the region?

How did it all start?

Back in 2018 Opencast realised that software developers in the North East had limited access to conferences and events, without costly travel to London – therefore creating barriers to training, connections and inspiration for skilled people here in the region. Enter BeaconHouse Events. We were initially commissioned to create an engaging B2B event called Build IT Right, in collaboration with Opencast’s CTO at the time, with the aim of engaging the local developer community and delivering an exciting, relevant event that people would otherwise have to leave the region to find.

The inaugural conference delivered a thought-provoking event to delegates from across the region and the BeaconHouse Events team worked with the conference committee to deliver the experience from concept right through to delivery. The one-day event had a packed schedule with three keynote speeches from Dave Farley, Timandra Harkness and Simon Brown, alongside 24 speakers across four parallel tracks, plus a panel session and lightning talks.

This was just the start of discovering what was possible when collaborating with an ambitious, future-focused team like Opencast. That same year we launched an exciting series of internal conferences focused on people engagement, starting with their annual away weekend.

People engagement

After the success of Built IT Right in 2019 the conference took place again in 2020, this time virtually after the global pandemic scuppered plans of bringing everyone together again. During Covid we pivoted to deliver wholly virtual quarterly conferences, and helped Opencast to launch their first summer festival celebration, ‘Castonbury’ as an online event. In 2023, we are now delivering three in-person quarterly conferences, one virtual quarterly conference, a summer social and Christmas party, along with a range of client-focused events within the company’s HQ space in Newcastle. 2024 will see the return of the away weekend adding to the programme of exciting people engagement events we now deliver for the Opencast team across the year.

In 2022 Opencast turned 10 years old and we were there to help the team celebrate in style. We created a large-scale event in the company’s home town of Newcastle upon Tyne and transformed Brinkburn Brewery in Byker into a transitional event space that would perform well for formal presentations followed by less formal celebrations to be enjoyed by Opencast people. The celebration boasted all the perks worthy of such a celebration; street food, yurts, delicious cakes, balloons, branded merch, company brand beer, lights, cameras, action and plenty of drinks!

Our first event for Opencast back in 2019 hosted 40 attendees – and by 2023 we hosted in the region of 300 delegates quarterly. For 2024 we are planning to welcome over 400 people to each event.

How does it work?

We work closely with the internal team at Opencast, including internal communications manager Holly Hudson and head of learning and culture Sheena Widdowfield.

Together we work to understand the objectives of the event and build a strategy that supports their ambitions as a business. Once we understand where events and experiences fit within Opencast’s wider plan we can start to source venues that meet their vibe, shape conference content delivery, brief internal people who will be speaking at the event and make sure they feel confident and comfortable.

From there we can start to have some fun with the softer elements of the event –everything from themes, room dressing and accommodation to entertainment and catering. We try whenever possible to surprise and delight our delegates and build in moments that make them proud of the place they work and give them ways to share the experience outside of the event itself.

It’s our job to make sure that everyone leaving an Opencast event is happy, energized and connected. Our team are there to handle all the logistics in the lead up to the event, and on the day, so the Opencast team can relax in the knowledge that all the details are covered.

The impact

Speaking about the impact that creative, well-run events have had on the team at BeaconHouse, internal communications manager Holly Hudson said:

“As we grow as a company, so does the scale and the ambitions for internal events, and BeaconHouse is with us every step of the way. It feels like a true partnership. They understand our company values, the kinds of experiences we want to give to our people and, importantly, what our people respond well to. We always know we are in very good hands with our events, strongly supported by BeaconHouse from the concept stage all the way through to evaluation.”

To speak to the team at BeaconHouse Events about how to put events at the heart of your plans for staff recruitment and retention in 2023 call on 0191 691 3456 or email


BeaconHouse Events partners with North East environmental charity to pioneer industry-wide change

Our strategy aims to address two key pillars in the coming years when it comes to reducing carbon; internal emissions and event carbon, the latter of which covers the emissions from client events delivered by the agency, the majority of which comes from travel.

We thought long and hard as a team about whether we wanted to offset our carbon impact as a business and ultimately, we wanted to give back ethically to communities in our immediate vicinity here in the North East, rather for opting to plant trees or support projects overseas.

We have committed to donate the company’s annual carbon footprint offset equivalent each year to a regional project, which in 2022 was approx. 7.5 tonnes, and we are aiming to decrease carbon emissions by 5 percent year on year by taking steps including moving to a new office space to lower our heating bills, looking at energy consumption, and sustainably sourcing materials. However, we recognise that the event industry has a major impact on our planet, and our internal carbon emissions as a business only accounts for a small proportion of our yearly total, the rest is generated from the client events we deliver. It is our job to lead change within our sector and model what is possible for other event agencies and rather than handing over responsibility to our clients, we are working with them to make consistent, considered changes together.

90 percent of event carbon comes from audience travel and we want to take some accountability for the carbon impact that our events generate. Therefore, we have also committed to offset the remaining 10 percent of event carbon (equating to approx. 31.6 tonnes for all major events delivered in the 2022-2023 financial year) and donate the carbon credit equivalent to bolster our donation to Groundwork’s Nature-based solutions programme. We believe it is our responsibility to support our clients and their delegates to make better choices about travel and think about how they can safely take actions like car sharing or sustainable travel, we will then work with clients to help them understand and choose solutions to reduce their travel emissions. This could include using apps like ‘TripShift’ which tracks individuals’ movements, and how you are travelling, and uses this vital data to understand behaviours and patterns of travel to support a change to more sustainable mobility, implement positive strategies to reduce emissions, and offset individual’s impact.

Steven Roberts, Chief Executive of Groundwork NE & Cumbria said:

“BeaconHouse Events are showing how any business, big or small, can play a part in helping to tackle the environmental challenges we all face. I really am moved by their generosity and their genuine interest in Groundwork’s pioneering work around Nature-based Solutions and biodiversity net gain.  Their contribution will help us continue our work to revitalise estuaries across the region which has already had notable success in conserving and restoring eco-systems. Their support is a great example of partnership in action and we hope it will be the start of a long and productive relationship, as well as encouraging other organisations to follow suit!  Any organisation looking to build, or enhance their corporate environmental and sustainability strategies, can explore working with us through our new investor portfolio. Together we can make a difference.”

By collaborating with our clients, delegates, and other event professionals we can make consistent, real change as a sector, rather than passing the carbon buck on to the businesses we work with, many of whom are right at the start of their ESG journey or are simply overwhelmed with the options available to make strategic change. Everything that we have planned works in tandem with our growth plans for the coming years and allows us to support our clients to achieve both their business ambitions while supporting them to reach their own ESG goals too.

Alongside our environmental commitments, our ESG strategy also outlines plans to track ESG activity via timesheets and donate the equivalent amount of time or in-kind support to local community groups supporting health and wellbeing, quality education, and economic growth.

To speak to the team about creating sustainable events and achieving your business ambitions email email

Case Study: ATOMICON, A conference like no other

The client 

ATOMICON was created by Andrew and Pete, founders of the highly engaging network ATOMIC, a worldwide community of small and mighty businesses sharing advice, training, and programmes to support entrepreneurs on their growth journey. ATOMICON is a conference like no other, bringing ATOMIC members and the wider business community together to engage with world-class speakers, engaging content, and epic sales and marketing content, all geared towards businesses that want to outperform their size.

How it started 

We first started working with Andrew and Pete back in 2019 when they had already sold out the inaugural event in Newcastle and were looking for support with on-site planning and to make sure the day went off without a hitch for their 300+ attendees. By taking over the logistics and organisation of the event, we allowed Andrew and Pete to dream up the really fun elements that make ATMICON so special.

Since then we have worked with the team to bring their virtual conference to life during the pandemic in 2020, before coming back to Sage Gateshead in 2021 and 2023, and we’re already looking forward to the next conference in 2024!

The conference 

After an online edition in 2020, an online teaser in early 2021, the event came back with a bang in November 2021 featuring Dragon’s Den Star Deborah Meaden, Facebook guru Ann Handley, keynote extraordinaire Drew Davis, and TikTok star Kyne alongside a variety of other parallel sessions. The Sage Gateshead provided a perfect backdrop for the learning, alongside the entertainment on offer for attendees including Cyclone Machine, Selfie Spots, Gif Generator, sweeties, and a comfortable chill-out zone. The fun started on the afternoon prior with member meet-ups, a Speaker party at ABOVE, and a Pre-Party Jazzy Shirt Party at Livello. The event culminated in an after-party at the hotspot Revolución de Cuba. Online guests were treated to live streams of the content alongside exclusive competitions and virtual parties.

In 2023 we welcomed 1,000 delegates in person and virtually to ATOMICON. We returned to Sage Gateshead to welcome solo entrepreneurs from across the globe to be motivated by the stellar speaker lineup, including Joe Wicks, Chris Do, Rob & Kennedy, and the ever-inspiring hosts and founders Andrew & Pete.

During the conference, the Sage concourse was alive with activations from sponsors including a prosecco wall, a GIANT inflatable whack-a-mole, arcade games, and sweets galore. The main conference activity started on the afternoon prior with fringe events across the city, member meet-ups, a Speaker party, and a Pre-Party Jazzy Shirt Party at the By The River Brew, taking advantage of the glorious weather. Online guests were treated to live streams of the content and virtual parties within the platform Flox.

Flox was also utilized for ATOMICWorld – for the two weeks before ATOMICON, ATOMICWorld covered a range of marketing topics from world-leading experts in a daily speaker slot with live Q&A, alongside 40+ curated networking sessions.

How we work together 

We work with Andrew and Pete, as well as their wider team including designers, the social media team, and ‘FOMO Creator’, along with their membership managers to explore how we can learn each year and create a bigger and better experience for ATOMICON attendees. Alongside daily communications in slack with the best emoji use, we thoroughly enjoy a monthly meeting with everyone involved in the project to make sure that we are on track and to explore new ideas together.

On the run-up to the event, we manage venues, the virtual platform, speaker sourcing and briefing, supplier liaison, AV, exhibitors, and branding, while on the day we’re on hand to look after registration and onsite delivery to give everyone peace of mind that there will be no surprises.

What the client says… 

“We love working with BeaconHouse Events, delivering an annual 1,000+ hybrid conference like no other with an international delegation growing year on year. We need all hands on deck from initial bookings of major personalities such as Joe Wicks, to being onsite from the crack of dawn on the event days BeaconHouse is a fantastic extension to our team. All details, large to small are considered, with Sophie and Rebekah always ready to explore our wildest ideas and turn them into a reality each year.”

Andrew Pickering, Co-Founder, ATOMIC

Best seat in the house – How does your seating arrangement impact delegate experience?

There are lots of things to take into consideration when thinking about where and how to get your delegates comfortable. What is the purpose of the event? Do they already know each other, or are you trying to help people connect? Do people need space to make notes during the speakers sessions? Different seating arrangements can majorly influence the learning experience and have the power to alter or enhance the whole atmosphere (your speaker can be the most interesting person in the world, but if you’re sitting behind a pole with a numb bum it won’t be that engaging).

So how can you make the most of your seating options to meet modern audience requirements?

Classic theatre set-up 

Close your eyes and imagine a traditional conference speaker set-up, and this is probably what you see. Theatre style is made up of rows of chairs facing the stage and is great for an event where the main focus is on one, or a range of speakers with a large audience, something like an annual company presentation, product launch, or awards show where you want your delegates attention centered on the stage. If you’re going with theatre-style seating, remember that it is not particularly well suited to taking notes or audience participation. Sitting for long periods can cause people’s attention to wander, so reassure them that stretching their legs, grabbing a drink between speakers, or using the loo is permitted by arranging the seating accordingly. Rather than long rows, create smaller sections of chairs so attendees can move around the space without awkwardly weaving along rows or disturbing others. Modern venues like The Glasshouse International Centre for Music (venue formerly known as Sage Gateshead)  have tiered seating so no one is looking at the back of someone’s head rather than the stage.

Life is a Cabaret 

Cabaret or café style seats delegates in small groups around a circular or overall table, with the chairs in a semi-circle so everyone is facing the stage (no awkward turning or craning necks here). This option is perfect for fostering conversation and for more interactive meetings where you want your attendees to do activities, workshop ideas, or discuss key themes throughout the day. This style lends itself well to taking notes or doodling, something that can be helpful for visual and kinetic learners. Small groups like this can be really helpful to get to know more people rather than only being able to speak to the people sitting on either side of you, but this can cause distractions or side conversations during presentations. Circular seating patterns like this also eliminate the problem of finding the best seat – all vantage points offer the same view and experience!


Just like school, each delegate gets their own table with plenty of space to make notes and spread out – all facing the front of the space. This setup is great for taking detailed notes, using laptops or tablets, or even enjoying a drink and a snack while listening to the speaker without any balancing on your knees. Consider this option if for a training session, where there might be lots of information to refer back to. Classroom style is great for sharing ideas with the group as a whole or interacting with the speaker, but it can be restrictive when it comes to group work, so carefully consider how you want people to interact with each other during the session. Interactivity can be accomplished in this setting with live polls, Q&As via mobile polling platforms such as Slido.

Flex appeal 

Flexible seating arrangements allow for the best of all worlds, allowing you to customise your setup depending on the purpose of each session during the event. Use chairs and tables that are easy to move or adapt and reconfigure the room in between each period to accommodate different types of activities, learning, or idea sharing. This type of arrangement is particularly handy for events with multiple sessions, breakout groups, or opportunities to engage and keeps your delegates interested and meeting new people, rather than sticking to the core group on their table or in their row.

Mix it up 

Seating doesn’t have to be boring! Showcase your creative side by incorporating some unique or quirky pieces into your event chill-out spaces, or split up your spaces to include multiple ways for people to relax. Think beanbag chairs, comfy sofas, swing sets, or even deckchairs in an outside space so your delegates can enjoy the fresh air between sessions. Not only are they comfy, but they will make a great photo op too.

Quiet seating areas 

The hustle and bustle of a conference or event can be overwhelming for some people, and sitting in a crowded room with strangers doesn’t make everyone feel comfortable. Create a quiet seating space where people can go to relax and escape the busy atmosphere. Signage can make it clear to other delegates that this space is not for taking calls or meetings, it is a sanctuary away from the main event space. Make sure there is lots of space to spread out, use low or dim lighting, and limit noise and distractions.

Power to the people 

Note-taking apps, emails, project planning tools; having access to our devices for a full day without the power running low is an important part of the conference experience. Many attendees will expect sustainable event materials like itineraries, notes, or venue information to be provided digitally, which means they will be using their devices more than ever before, so when you’re planning your seating arrangements, make sure that there is adequate access to power, without having to crouch by a wall socket. You could even invest in portable charging stations or wireless charging pads to keep your delegates connected and engaged.

To speak to the team at BeaconHouse Events about the best way to bring your next event to life, contact

Do you Doodle? The power of sharing ideas through drawing

A space to do-odle. 

Were you ever told off for doodling at school? Well, you might be surprised to learn that doodling is much more than simply a way to keep yourself awake; the act of doodling can actually help you solve problems, understand complex information – especially if it is being delivered verbally – and create new ideas. In 2009, there was even a study by Harvard Medical School that looked at how doodling can help us retain and process information; the research team asked two groups to listen to a long voice message, one group just listened while the other was asked to perform a simple doodling activity. The results? The group of doodlers recalled 29 percent more information than the other group, and the research team concluded that, for some people, paying continuous attention to something for too long overstrains our focus and allows our minds to wander.

While an auditory learner will be captivated by listening to a keynote speaker, if you are a kinetic learner, having the space and tools to doodle and make notes during a presentation can make all the difference to your experience during and after an event.

A tool for visual learners 

But it doesn’t always have to be you who is doodling! For visual learners, the way that information is presented can be just as impactful as the information itself. That means illustrating data and providing well-designed materials to bring key ideas to life. We’re always looking for new ways to give every delegate a meaningful experience, and the brilliant team behind InkyThinking is often on hand to bring our events to life in a unique and visual way.

At many of our events, we have brought in the team to deliver rich picture design; a way of dynamic visual storytelling, crystallising messages on one page, and providing teams with an engaging tool to start conversations and carry on learning from the event back in the office. A rich picture is an impactful way of collating many ideas together on one page and, literally, showing your big-picture thoughts for the future of your organisation, complexities in teams, or challenges on the road ahead. Not only that, you can take it back to the office as an amazing piece of artwork as a legacy for your event, giving people who couldn’t be there the chance to get involved in the conversation too.

Outside of the event 

No two events are the same, and while photography can capture moments, emotions, and scale, sometimes the ideas and nuance of conversation can be difficult to explain after the event is done and dusted. Organisations invest a lot of time and resources into creating events with impact, so having a visual way of sharing what happened post-experience is a great way of extending the reach of your ideas. Dynamic pictures can be shared on social media channels, posted to your website, and displayed in your reception area, creating a legacy in a way that photography just can’t capture.

Are you a visual learner? What resources or spaces would you like to see at events to help support your learning and enhance your experience? To speak to the team about working with BeaconHouse Events to bring your ideas to life, email