Key People

Staff and students from across the University have worked together to make the Forum opening a success. Here are just a few of them.

Brian Hemming

I am the Mitigation Squad Gardener, for the Exeter University Grounds. My role for Her Majesty The Queen's visit to the University is to ensure that the grounds are presented to the highest standard. In preparation for the visit I am responsible for the restoration of lawned areas, tree and shrub planting across campus. Being involved in both a major University development project and a royal visit is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I have enjoyed. Knowing that hundreds of visitors from all over the South West will be visiting and appreciating the beautiful grounds at the University is what makes my job rewarding. Of course the biggest concern on the day will be the English weather! For the Diamond Jubilee I will be involved in and attending events being organised in my home town of Dawlish.

Rob Doidge

I am the Head Chef of the Terrace restaurant and Great Hall Functions. My responsibility on the day of the Royal visit is to produce the menu, source the produce from local suppliers and acquire the staff needed to produce the meal. The main challenge is to deliver a lunch that is of a very high standard and can be served in a tight timescale. I have organised several trial runs of the menu in advance and will be overseeing the kitchen on the day. It will be exciting to see months of preparation come to fruition and a great honour to feed The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, but the main concern on the day will be ensuring that the meal goes without a hitch and the Royal guests and all the other dignitaries leave having enjoyed their lunch and having a high regard for the University of Exeter.

Eleanor Chadwich

I am currently studying the Staging Shakespeare MA at the University. For Her Majesty The Queen's visit I am directing a short theatrical performance showing extracts from Shakespeare's eight-play Medieval history cycle. To prepare for the visit there has been a great deal of practice from staging the piece and rehearsing to teaching and learning songs and dance steps. For the day I have put together the extract, using pieces of all eight plays, and then the crew and I have taught actors a wide range of skills to utilise in their performance. The day is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talents and work ethic of students at the University. The theatre group is keen to show others the large and ambitious theatrical project that we have been working on to VIP guests and The Queen.

Nicola Pollard

I am a postgraduate student in my second year of the 'Staging Shakespeare' Master of Fine Arts degree. I am one of two Assistant Directors for the upcoming Wars of the Roses project, from which we are producing a collage piece for this event. The actors and directors have been putting in many extra hours of rehearsal for the opening. They have had workshops in singing, voice, dance and stage combat, plus independent line-learning. I have received great benefits from the Drama department and the University so taking part in this visit allows me to show my gratitude, and to be involved in an historic occasion. I plan to travel to London to meet up with family and friends to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and I hope to create more Royal-related memories this year as I have much respect for the Royal Family. I'm excited to be part of an event attended by so many important people, particularly The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

Aaron Tong

I am the Head Chef at Holland Hall. Most chefs only dream of cooking for The Queen so the Royal visit and opening of the Forum is a real privilege and a very exciting occasion. On the day it will be my duty to help produce the lunch, focusing on the main course, and to support the team where possible. The preparations will start on Monday 30 April and then we start cooking the day before the visit. I think the most difficult thing about the menu planning was how to get great appearance whilst making sure the service of the food was still efficient. We will be paying a lot of attention to detail: everything has to be perfect! Being introduced to The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be the highlight of the day for me. I am arranging a garden party for close friends and family to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

Hannah Berney

I study History and French at the University of Exeter and am currently appearing on the BBC show The Voice. For Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh I will be singing the beautiful Portuguese Cancao do Mar. It's nerve wracking and exciting performing in front of both The Queen and The Voice coaches but on the day of the Royal visit I'm most worried about remembering the Portuguese words! I'm really excited to be celebrating the day with everyone; it will be a day of unity, music and heritage. During the last Jubilee celebrations I sang in my village hall aged 11, one of my first public performances. It makes me proud to know I've come so far in my ability that I'm now celebrating The Queen's Diamond Jubilee with her in person.

Rachael Burton and Zachary Price

We are both third year students from Exeter's BA Drama course and members of Exeter University Theatre Company. (EUTCo) are performing an extract of this year's Exeter Northcott show, 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' by Bertolt Brecht. As final year students, we have seen the development of the Forum over the last three years and we are very excited to see it opening and to share the work of our cast and crew with the visitors. We began rehearsing for the Forum opening in October and have been renewing the lines and have adapted the staging to suit the environment. It's not every day you are offered the opportunity to perform at an event where the guest list includes The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh!

Faye Hutchinson

I'm a 3rd year undergraduate studying Drama and am also the Dance Society President. The University Dance Society will be performing for Her Majesty The Queen's visit. A lot of effort has gone into the dances from the choreographers creating them to auditioning for the Dance Squad, teaching the routines and then practising them relentlessly. As the President of Dance Society this day will be extremely significant for me and the society as a whole. I am excited to show off how brilliant our dancers are here at Exeter and to be able to demonstrate the level of talent and commitment of our dancers to Her Majesty The Queen. It will be the perfect end to such a successful year for the team.

Gilda Christie

I am a third year student studying Accounting and Finance in the Business School. On the day of the Royal visit I will be performing a Saman Dance with eight other students; it is a traditional dance from Aceh, Indonesia. It's such a rare chance to see The Queen and even more exceptional to perform for her especially when you are an international student who is only staying in England for three or four years. It will be a remarkable story to tell that I was part of The Forum opening by The Queen and by showing this dance, I really hope that it will raise people's awareness of my country, Indonesia and our culture. We have been practicing at least four hours a week for five to six weeks. We have chosen the best style and movement for the dance and have had specially made traditional costumes for the dance. I hope to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee by travelling to the Buckingham Palace to see the celebration.

Richard Narramore

I am the Head Chef of La Touche at the University of Exeter Business School. To be asked to cook for the Royal visit is a big honour. I am very excited to have the chance to meet The Queen face to face and to cook and present food to such high-profile guests. It is an opportunity that comes around only once in a lifetime. I have assisted with the concepts for the menu, assisted with various tastings, and on the day will be leading on the dessert. We wanted to use fresh local produce where possible and to give all the guests a taste of Devon and Cornwall. It is a challenging prospect to produce a menu fit for a queen!

John Stephens

I am the Forum and Great Hall Operations Manager, and will be responsible on behalf of Campus Services for the day-to-day Facilities Management of the Forum. I chair the Forum Opening Working Group, which meets to discuss operational matters relating to the visit. The 2 May is the culmination of many months' work for countless individuals at the University – both for the visit of The Queen, and for the opening of our wonderful new Forum building. The working Group has held weekly meetings, to discuss all aspects of the visit – from security to catering, and Guest lists to transport plans. My combined commitments to the day represent one of the biggest professional challenges I have faced. The prospect of creating a fantastic event for all those involved, and seeing it run successfully will without doubt provide a huge sense of satisfaction. I am also extremely excited about our fantastic new £48 million development being open to our students and staff, and experiencing the buzz created by the crowds attending.