By Our Reporter
More than 40 University of Chester students helped to herald the start of the festive season in the city by getting involved as events volunteers for the 12 Days of Christmas Parade.
Organised by Cheshire West and Chester Council, and attracting between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors annually, the parade is a showcase event on the city’s Christmas calendar. A brass band leads the procession of musicians, actors and children, and marks the start of Christmas celebrations with lights illuminated in each street as the parade passes through.
Students from across the University, including Events Management students, stepped forward to help make the event a success. Their roles on the night involved walking with the parade, assisting in crowd support and helping to ensure that performers and the public were safe, as well as answering general questions.
Dr Tim Brown, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Events Management and Head of the Department of Marketing, Tourism and Destinations, organises this unique volunteering opportunity for students in partnership with the Council.
As he explained, it is one of the many opportunities created in partnership with employers, that students can get involved with to enrich their studies and gain job-relevant skills: “Rewarding experiences like this that contribute to the community and develop employability skills are invaluable for our students. We build in lots of opportunities for our students to gain knowledge, skills and engagement with business to work on projects – from events to social media campaigns – which makes a significant difference to their learning and professional development. Our amazing relationship with the Cheshire West and Chester Council events team has been in place for more than 10 years providing an array of opportunities for our students to get involved and support the local community.”
Councillor Christine Warner, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes, thanked all the students involved: “Christmas isn’t Christmas without volunteers. At this time when communities come together to celebrate the festive season, volunteers are often the key to running successful events. In Chester, we have had the great fortune to link with the University of Chester over many years with students from both the Events Management degree course, events society and other students who want to be involved. The University volunteers have been essential in delivering the very large events in Chester, with many students returning for several years and for a number of events.
“It was great to see a few faces who we have seen at other events across the borough. Without the valued help of the students, these events could not take place. A big thank you to all those involved and the support they offer.”
Carlotta Villa, who is studying Events and International Tourism Management at the University of Chester was pleased to help. She said: “I really enjoyed my day volunteering for the Chester 12 Days of Christmas Lights Parade last Thursday (November 23). I got involved with the setting up during the afternoon and the marshalling during the evening, boosting the skills I developed during my first year. I believe that this kind of opportunity will not only be beneficial for my degree but also for any job I will secure in the events industry moving forward, as I am now equipped with a series of practical skills that other applicants will be less likely to have.”
Events Management student, Millie Chilcott said: “I really enjoyed volunteering at the Christmas Parade. It was really useful in helping with crowd management and listening on the radio to any unexpected problems that arose and how they were able to be solved quickly and effectively. It was useful to link what we have learned in class to a real-life event scenario. Overall, this experience will prove to be invaluable for my future career in event management.“
International student Pragashine Chandrasekaran enjoyed the festive experience. She added: “This was my first year volunteering and attending a Christmas parade. I had the opportunity to experience an entirely different culture and tradition during this Christmas season, which was a fantastic overall experience for me as a student studying International Business Management. I’m eagerly anticipating more chances like this one.”
University of Chester students will help with the next city parades including the Lanterns Parade on November 30, the Winter Watch Parade on December 7 and the Saturnalia and Winter Watch Parade on December 14.