Penguins Blog

Sir Michael's Cabaret evening raises almost £40,000 for local children's hospice charity

September 30th, 2011 by Mark

Penguins were proud to help with the technical and staging aspects of Sir Michael Parkinson’s Cabaret charity event at Wentworth on Saturday, 24 September in aid of Berkshire local children’s charity, Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.

Sir Michael’s Cabaret Evening raised almost £40,000 for local children’s charity, Alexander Devine. The event, in its fourth year, was a great success, and the funds raised are a huge boost for the charity which has just announced that an anonymous benefactor has gifted it six acres of land near Maidenhead.This special local charity was also recently highlighted as one of the beneficiaries of Berkshire Community Foundation’s  Match Fund campaign:

Alexander Devine is working to build Berkshire’s children’s hospice, to offer support to over 330 local families who have children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.The charity has already funded two Alexander’s Nurses, who support these sick children, and their families, in their own homes throughout the county.

Sir Michael’s invaluable contribution to the success of this local charity was highlighted by Fiona Devine in her welcome speech at the event: “Sir Michael took a huge leap of faith when he met with my husband John and myself not long after we lost our amazing son Alexander.He understood from the outset the vital need for a local children’s hospice in the Berkshire area, and he has worked tirelessly with us to make this happen.He is now as much a part of the fabric of Alexander Devine as John and myself.”

For his part, Sir Michael told his guests, who included the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, another Patron of the charity, and her husband Philip, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Windsor & Maidenhead:  “I am incredibly proud of this charity which keeps the family at the heart of all it does. Fiona and John and the team have achieved an incredible amount over the last 12 months – establishing a second Alexander’s Nurse to help families in West Berkshire, and securing the donation of land on which to build the hospice.  There is still a long way to go as we wait to hear about planning permission for the land, but I have no doubt that we will build this local children’s hospice for these very special children and their families.”

The entertainment on the evening included dazzling performances from Laurie Holloway and his trio, Kenny Lynch, Joe Stilgoe and jazz sensation, Clare Teal.  The cabaret came to a close with another rousing performance by the inimitable Rolf Harris, who had guests on their feet singing along to such classics as “Waltzing Matilda” and “Two Little Boys”.

Fiona Devine, Charity founder, said “Once again, the staging and technical side of the event was managed by the excellent Penguins event management team from Windsor, who have supported Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice since the charity was set up over 4 years ago.”

If you would like to help Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service in any way, please call Janet Brewer on 07920 000040 or email



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Dubrovnik Fam Trip

September 27th, 2011 by Mark

Having been in the event management industry for over 20 years it takes a lot to wow me in terms of destinations, so having just spent two and a half days in the sun baked medieval city of Dubrovnik overlooking the Adriatic I can only say “Wow”.  Of course a two and a half day “fam” trip is no where near long enough to do this city justice.

A mere two and a half hours flying time form the UK and you will find yourself on one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the Adriatic (the little bit of sea down the right hand side of Italy). Our group of twelve were hosted by Adriatic Luxury Hotels partnered by our friends from Mason Rose. Base camp for this trip was the stunning five star Dubrovnik Palace Hotel located on the edge of a sleepy cove just north of the medieval walled town. The hotel is hidden away amongst the lush forests bordering the coastline. This spacious five star hotel, with never ending views of the sea and the Elaphiti Islands offers not only excellent leisure facilities but also the perfect undisturbed work environment.

Whilst the conference facilities can cater for 750 delegates, the hotel in my opinion would be the perfect location for a sales conference on an exclusive hire for 250 to 300 delegates. With plenty of space for breakouts and team activities there is no doubt that this venue and destination is right up there on my recommendation list as it has everything. What Croatia can also offer is plenty of variety in terms of places to eat, activities available and places to visit. Our cameras did not stop clicking away! Strangely enough on this trip most of our activities involved eating and drinking! Olive oil tasting, wine tasting on the Pelješac peninsula, mussel and oyster tasting at one of the many oyster farms at Mali Ston followed by a sumptuous lunch at the Tavern Bote Šare were all packed into our Friday itinerary.

Dubrovnik itself has plenty of hotels to choose from and during our short visit we were treated to show rounds at both the Excelsior Hotel and Spa and also the Hotel Bellevue, both Adriatic Luxury Hotels. At first, arriving at a hotel that appears to be only a single storey is a little disappointing, but that is where the disappointment ends. Both hotels cling to the cliffs overlooking Dubrovnik and whilst you enter the hotel at street level, everything else is technically below ground. Like the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel, every window has a sea view. And it’s a view you never get bored of.

The Excelsior is located 5 minutes stroll from the old walled city and has stunning views of the medieval port and bustling marina. The Bellevue is tucked away in a little cove between the Dubrovnik Palace and the city. Both are smaller boutique 5 star hotels with exquisite facilities and beautiful spas.

Both hotels have good sized meeting rooms, but for me these two hotels are ideal for incentive trips or small group Director meetings. The Dubrovnik Palace is better suited for larger company meetings provided delegates do not get too distracted by the stunning views that all the meeting spaces provide!

The food we had was, for me perfect. I love sea food and therefore I was able to fill my boots with some of the most sumptuous fish dishes I’ve had in a long time. That said there were also plenty of options if you are not a mammoth marine muncher like me. Our first evening was at Restaurant Nautika just outside of the old City, but there is plenty of choice in the City. Eating is al fresco and there is plenty of atmosphere to consume whilst you are working your way through the menu and wine list. Ah, the wines! The wines were all again well chosen and were all Croatian local wines, none of which I can remember, not because I had consumed too much, but simply because their labels were impossible to read. We were never disappointed.  

We were only in Dubrovnik for 48 hours and I got the impression that we were all a little sad to leave. The City, and I think the parts of Croatia that we saw were clean, breath taking and full of intrigue. The Croatians are very friendly and very hospitable and are keen to share what they have with us, and in my opinion they have it all. They have great conference and meeting spaces, great activities, great restaurants, a beautiful city, lots of history, fantastic weather and the best bit, they are only two and a half hours away from the UK.

If you have not yet considered Dubrovnik for your conference or sales incentive then start considering it, because I for one would love you to go there.

Dubrovnik is one of many destinations that we have explored this year with our clients and we are staging others later this year and next year. If you are keen to come, and you are a serious organiser of meetings, incentives, conferences or events then contact Aimee on 01753 833 811 or and we’ll get you along.

Tweet @PenguinsEvents with your thoughts on Dubrovnik as a conference or incentive destination.


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