Today is International Women's Day and this year we can shine the spotlight on some of the work being done by women at the heart of our 150th anniversary planning committee which has been meeting to map out events and preparations for our milestone season in 2021-22.
Giving up their time and effort on a voluntary basis, these women are just some of the individuals who have collectively brainstormed what might be possible in our anniversary season, mapped out how the celebrations could take shape and are now making them become a reality, taking up the responsibility to deliver some of these events and projects to our fans and the local community throughout the 2021-22 season.
Reading Football Club’s Head of Operations and HR, Jackie Evans, has been an integral part of the club's fabric since beginning as a receptionist at our old Elm Park ground back in 1994.
She moved on to a secretarial role not long after the Royals' move to Madejski Stadium and became customer-centric when stepping into the role of Customer Service Manager in 2001.
She has remained dedicated to 'people' ever since - externally she became the point of contact between supporters and the club, while internally she led the HR operation with the Royals.
Recently, our Head of Operations and HR was awarded Southern Region’s Women of Achievement Award in the Women in Sport category at the 2019 Sue Ryder Awards.
During 2018 along, Jackie was instrumental with the club receiving two awards from the English Football League (EFL), one for Gold Award Winners for Family Excellence, when EFL Clubs receive two ‘mystery family’ visits throughout the season, with their feedback and reports determining whether each respective club would achieve ‘Family Excellence’ status. The Royals are among a select group of clubs who have achieved the honour every year they
have been eligible.
And, alongside leading the committee's preparations for the 150th anniversary season, Jackie has also been our designated COVID Officer since the pandemic hit football nearly a year ago today - working tirelessly to keep players, coaches, staff and visitors to the Madejski and Bearwood Park as safe as possible at all times.
Considering Mandy’s mum went into labour on the terraces at Walsall Football Club it was inevitable that she was destined to grow up with a love for the beautiful game.
Mandy has a background steeped in quality standards and training. A former Director of Quality Standards for the English Tourism Council, she founded and launched LiveTourism in 2004, to focus on the customer experience, creating a ground-breaking methodology for organisations and businesses in tourism, hospitality and sports.
Her clients include The Premier League, England and Wales Cricket Board and the Racecourse Association. Mandy was also one of the first people to champion the customer experience for people living with a range of disabilities.
Already a Reading FC Season Ticket holder, Mandy found herself working closely with the club when LiveTourism was appointed by the Premier League to deliver the VisitFootball Quality Assured Stadium Scheme. The project required Mandy and her team of assessors to conduct incognito visits to the club to assess the customer service experience from every angle and perspective. The relationship continues as Reading FC and LiveTourism are committed to improving the fan experience, meaning Mandy has needed a few disguises over the years.
When the invitation to be a part of the Royals 150 Project Team came it was a real highlight for Mandy; she has relished her involvement in planning for the anniversary celebrations and looks forward to joining in with the events.
In early 1980s, Helen joined a local design agency, after having her children, as a part-time book keeper and ended up staying there for 13 years.
She keft in 1997 to set up Cream Design with now business partner Barney. Cream started in the Kings Road and moved into the centre of town 2009.
Helen started watching Reading in the 1970s when Robin Friday was playing and was happily in the players bar when we were promoted to the 3rd division… she had a break of 12 years but came back in 1992 when her youngest started to play and the Royals did Saturday morning coaching sessions for local clubs.
Cream Design got involved with the club in 1996 when we evolved the club badge for use in the 125th year celebration and, at the same time, started working on the new club badge for the move to Madejski Stadium under the direction of Sir John Madejski and Nigel Howe.
The rest is history… they've been working for the club and supporting the team ever since. Helen is now introducing her grandson to the club which is very exciting for the future.
Sally was born in Reading and spent most of her career at Reading Borough Council, working in events, PR and marketing.
Since retiring from her role as Head of Communications at the council she has been involved with a number of events and activities in Reading. Sally chairs the Pride of Reading Awards Committee and has been involved with organising the Awards Ceremony since 2004, she is a Director of Theatre and Arts Reading helping to ensure Reading Gaol’s future is focused on community and arts provision for the people of Reading. She has also had roles with Connect Reading, Reading Tree Wardens and Britain in Bloom.
Sally has supported Reading since the 1960s with her then boyfriend, now husband Tony, cheering on the Biscuitmen from the Elm Park terraces. Whilst working at the council Sally had the privilege to work alongside the club in organising victory parades for the teams in 2006 and 2012 when we were prompted to the Premier League - witnessing first hand the pride and enthusiasm the people of Reading have for their team.
Sally was delighted to be invite to be part of the Royals 150 Project Team and is looking forward to the year of celebrations.
As Events and Engagement Manager for Reading Borough Council, Lucy works on a range of community and civic events and activities across Reading with a huge range of partners.
Part of her role is to promote what a fantastic place Reading is to live, work and stay as well as highlighting and promoting Council services.
She has worked with Reading Football Club on a whole host of events including two of their promotion parades, Reading Half Marathon, the Olympic Torch event in 2012 and Pride of Reading.
And Lucy was really pleased to have been asked to be part of the 150th anniversary planning committee and is looking forward to working with the club on their programme of events and activities to mark this very important anniversary next season.