I was lucky enough to ‘Spend A Day With’ Sunny, James and the rest of the fantastic Sunshine Events team – to check them out hard at work in their head office, warehouse and also seeing them in action during a packed family fun day at Haydock Park Racecourse. This day was a great eye opener for me seeing all the aspects that event suppliers have to think about, to provide a flawless service and ultimately make people happy. Something that is very dear to Sunny’s heart – but more of that later.
To give you some background, Sunshine Events are the UK’s number one national supplier and owner of fun event equipment. They own and stock the largest range of entertainment packages that can be hired for corporate events, exhibitions, conference energisers, family fun days, and all manner of parties and events when you to deliver fun to your guests. How amazing!
Sunshine Events, which started out life in 2003 as a weekend business in the spare bedroom of Sunny and James Sandwell, has since grown into a hugely successful innovative and extremely well-run events company with a fantastic reputation, serving clients such as Celebrity Juice, ITV, Channel 4, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Virgin Media, Britains Got Talent and many more household names. The client list says everything…
Those early days when all they had to hire out was a Giant Connect 4 and a Giant Jenga, has grown into a large warehouse full of all manner of fun items to hire out – from Virtual Reality Experiences to huge Wrecking Ball Inflatables, they’ve got something for every type of event.
When you sit and talk to Sunny & James, you can’t help but feel the passion and drive that has helped them to get to where they are (including recently winning two awards for ‘Employer of The Year’ and ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ at the BIBA’s - the Be Inspired Business Awards) – which is for all their clients to have lots of fun!
Sunshine Events head office – finding out all about them
Situated on a smart industrial / retail park on the outskirts of Preston, the first thing that hits you as you enter the building is the positive messages written on walls of the staircase, the framed company ethos statements and core values dotted around and the fabulous blackboard with all the team’s preferred method of coffee / tea, which starts with the words “Make mine a…” - I loved this! Another funky thing in the reception area is their amazing Magic Selfie Mirror that talks to you and asks you to have a go – so of course I did! Any excuse to wear a bit of fancy dress!!
After a quick introduction to some of the team, I sat down with Sunny & James to talk to them all about Sunshine Events. Currently they have around 50 Fun Experts (made up of permanent and casual staff) and that number is made up of Sales, Accounts & Marketing staff in the office, the Logistics team who work in the warehouse and the event staff who go out to install and operate their equipment.
And it’s clear that not only is this a really fabulous place to work, but they are really great people to deal with from a client’s perspective. For example, James explained to me that when you work with Sunshine Events not only are you getting fabulous, and sometimes, purpose-built equipment – you can be assured that everything they use has been comprehensively insured, tested thoroughly, and is of the very highest quality. It will be installed to conform with all health and safety requirements and will be operated by their team of Fun Experts with superb levels of professionalism. In fact, for larger events every client receives an ‘Event Pack’ from them – which contains a copy of their Public Liability Insurance and P.A.T. test certificates, all the relevant contact details for the team and lots more useful information relating to the journey leading up to the event itself. Speaking as an event organiser, this is a reassuring thing to receive and certainly makes you feel in your comfort zone.
Sunshine Events warehouse – so much equipment!
The Sunshine Events warehouse is located just across the road from the office and I have to admit, I didn’t stop smiling from the moment I entered the building.
For example, as we got there, the warehouse Fun Expert team were in the middle of testing a brand-new piece of equipment – the Wrecking Ball Inflatable! And it was massive! The top of it was around 5-6 metres tall and it contained 4 platforms which surrounded a huge, suspended wrecking ball in the middle. The object was to swing the wrecking ball at the other people on the platforms to try and knock them off. It was really funny to watch and you could tell it would be a big hit (pun intended!!) - in fact, I know it went down well as I saw it in action at a public event – more of that later in the report.
Once inside the warehouse, it was simply wall to wall with all manner of fun events equipment being stored here – from Coconut Shy Stalls and bespoke Buzz-Wire games (which can even be made in the shape of your choice) to traditional Ice Cream Bicycles and a giant Inflatable Hungry Hippos game, this place had everything, and then some! In fact it contains over 375 items of equipment in here – some of which are made there in the warehouse by the team, or have been made specifically for them by trusted UK manufacturers.
After meeting the team based in there who look after the distribution and storage of all the equipment (as well as being on call 24/7 for their clients and event staff), I was lucky enough to have a go of their Virtual Reality Experience and I have to say that is was truly unbelievable. Forget your home virtual reality headsets, this was next level! I took the option to experience something called ‘The Plank’ which involved me taking a ‘virtual’ lift up to the top floor of a skyscraper and then walking off the edge of an actual plank (which they had laid on the floor in the warehouse) – to say I was terrified was an understatement! Haha. It was so realistic that I couldn’t even bring myself to walk off the edge!
Sunshine Events office – Service levels and their second warehouse
Once back in the office, Sunny explained to me about the exciting news that, due to increased demand, they are opening their second warehouse in May this year. Based in the south of England it will enable them to offer even better service to their ever growing client base in the south.
It is clear that service levels are a massive part of what drives Sunshine Events forward. For instance, they have a ‘Lessons Learned’ folder which all members of staff are encouraged to contribute to, and look through regularly – so that they can continually improve. What a great idea!
Haydock Park Racecourse – Seeing Sunshine Events in action
I ended the day by spending the afternoon at Haydock Park Racecourse, as there was a Family Fun Day taking place at one of their race meetings and I was there on official business (honestly!!) because Sunshine Events had been hired to provide all the outdoor fun equipment for the meeting and I wanted to see them in action.
This was an excellent opportunity for me to see them at close quarters, especially as this event was on a large scale with thousands of people attending the event, including children of all ages
Once in the family zone, you could see the distinctive colours of Sunshine Events equipment on the large inflatable equipment, which was being used constantly by hundreds of children and adults at all times. There was the aforementioned inflatable Wrecking Ball, and other inflatable items including an Obstacle Course, a Climbing Wall, Football Darts, Football Shootout, Bungee Run, Basketball and tons more. As mentioned earlier, the majority of their equipment is tailor made for them and always using their vibrant company colours, so they are really easy to spot.
The Sunshine Events Fun Expert team, on each piece of equipment, were fantastic - making sure everyone had a great time and always keeping an eye out for any potential safety issues. The team were great – really friendly with both children and adults alike, which was really good to see, especially given the number of people there – it was absolutely packed for the 4 or 5 hours that I was there.
To sum up my day with Sunshine Events – led by Sunny and James, they are an amazing team, with fantastic equipment, and superb service levels, as well as a fantastic company ethos – to bring fun to all their clients, and from what I saw during my day there, they do this in bucket-loads!
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Sunny and her team of Fun Experts