Creating a graduation to remember

The University of Southampton provide both summer and winter graduation ceremonies with the events taking place over a week and with multiple ceremonies per day.

By
Team Brighter
July 4, 2022
 • 
4 Mins
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Team Brighter

The University of Southampton provide both summer and winter graduation ceremonies with the events taking place over a week and with multiple ceremonies per day.

Objectives

Modern graduation ceremonies take a great deal of planning at the best of times, not just managing the physical flow of graduates and guests, but providing an engaging experience, live streaming and catering. The pandemic created a backlog of graduations, and the 2022 events had close to 50,000 graduates and guests attending on one of the hottest days of the year.

Solution

There were large scale logistical requirements with graduates arriving, obtaining their gowns, having photographs taken and then requiring an area to celebrate with guests, post-graduation.

Due to the numbers, we proposed moving the event from the O2 Guildhall to Southampton Football Club, taking over one of the stands and building the graduation stage in front of it. We created an entire hospitality village, where entertainment was provided for those in attendance and the event streamed to a private YouTube channel to accommodate those not able to attend in person.

Specialist health and safety teams carried out a fully documented risk assessment pre-event, bottles of water were provided, and we had medical teams on hand to deal with emergencies. Accessibility requirements were catered for including live British Sign Language teams and access to hearing loops.

Results

After months of planning the 2023 event, the team, joined by a Project Manager, Logistics Manager, Production Manager, Onsite AV Crew, Show Caller, Health and Safety Manager, and six sign language staff, arrived at the two locations – O2 Guildhall in Southampton and Winchester Cathedral.

With 3,000 online views from people from all over the world, the team dealt with an ambulance call out, a stretch tent that had become unsecure due to high winds, and helped celebrity Ruby Wax to get changed into her robe! All in a day’s work for the team which saw them collectively cover more than 1.5 million steps during the course of the fortnight – that’s almost the same as walking from London to Glasgow, and back!!

A message from our Special Projects manager, Joanna Lake...
“It was a momentous effort by the team who pulled together through two long weeks to help bring the event to life. Months of planning each and every single minute detail paid off to deliver a memorable graduation experience for each and every single guest”

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