NHS Nightingale – The amazing instant conversion of Goliath event venues


The last few weeks has been a challenging time for everyone with events around the Globe being cancelled due to Covid-19 shutting down the world.

2020 started with a positive feeling; Brexit behind us and the UK looking forward to growth in numerous sectors. By the end of March, the events industry hit a brick wall. The impact started slowly with initial postponements, followed by mass cancellations leaving cavernous event venues in a “quiet eerie silence”.

Continued uncertainty of when we can activate again just adds to the stress, with everyone asking, “When can we come out of lockdown”. But through grit, determination and strong community ethic that our industry has, we will make it through. Post Covid-19 will be different to what we have known before, with a difference that no one can guess right now.

Some amazing feats have been attained and by Tuesday 29th March the huge Excel Centre was transformed by teams of workers into a fully functioning hospital. The exhibition space, known for hosting Crufts to Comic Con, will go down in history for facilitating the most important job the Excel Centre has been given – saving lives.

Our industry is used to seeing quick transformations of spaces, from blank canvases to beautiful events in a matter of hours and days – but to transform such a large space into a hospital equipped with 4,000 beds has been one of the success stories to match that of the NHS work ethic.

Now we know it can be done, Nightingale Hospitals are sprouting up across the Country in readiness for the wave of Covid-19 cases. Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow being converted from empty exhibition halls to hospitals with ventilators and ICU units to give capacity to the wonderful NHS.

We know that our skills and resourcing can be used for good at this time to support those that need it most. A round of applause for everyone involved in making these projects happen putting into effect our hashtag #EventsLessOrdinary

If anyone needs help during this difficult time and feels we could play a part we’d love to hear from you – no suggestion too crazy. Feel free to email [email protected]