Countryfile at Abbotsholme: Part 1 of 3 – The beginning of the story!

Posted: 8th February, 2016. Topics:

Abbotsholme was delighted to welcome Countryfile to the School on Friday last week for a days filming to feature in the current series on TV. The filming done last week is due to be aired on Sunday 21st February at 7.00pm.

As I mentioned in my blog called ‘Oh Snow’ last week, I would be talking about countryside matters in this weeks blog.

When Countryfile initially contacted the School during the middle of January to find out more about the School – following regular emails sent to their editorial people over the last few years – to see if we were a good story for filming, Mrs Barnwell told me it had been her dream since arriving at Abbotsholme for Countryfile to come and film at Abbotsholme.

We all knew that Abbotsholme was a perfect place for filming: farm on site since the beginning (1889) and before, a new revolutionary approach to education encompassing indoor and outdoor learning, a new type of uniform, and pupils learning about field to fork farming: a living library as Mr Fairclough always says.

When Countryfile representatives came to reccy the School, we knew we had to pull out all the stops to impress. Not just content with getting all the information, images and data to them before the visit, we had to ensure – just as we do with all visitors (and especially prospective families) – that the first impressions really did wow. As always, marketing and customer service did play a very big part in this bit!

We ensured they had their names on the visitors car parking space signs and on the chalkboard in the lobby. We had homemade cake (from our amazing catering team) ready, and we had Sixth Form agri pupils, Mr Fairclough and Miss Liddle free to talk with the crew on the farm.

The crew arrived on Wednesday 27th January in the morning, and loved their names on the signs, and the excited and enthusiastic welcome they received; (who does not like a bit of excitement and enthusiasm on arrival somewhere new!) They even told us when they arrived that they felt they had to film here because of loving seeing their names on the car park signs and chalkboard (one of them even took a picture of it!)

They reccied the farm, spoke with the pupils, enjoyed the cake and spent time looking at the albums of amazing images dating right back to 1889. And that was it.

Every question they asked, we replied with a yes. We told them nothing was impossible, and we would do everything we could to make what they needed a reality. As you may know, the marketing team mantra is to say yes to every question, and work out how to do it after. People do not like to hear the word no straight away, they like to know there is a possibility that a person will look into something before realising that it can or cannot be done. Glass half full approach!

The next day – Thursday 28th January – was an anxious wait, and because we did not want to get our hopes up too much, we tried to keep calm, but it was hard! At 4.00pm, we could not bare the wait any longer, so we rang to find out…… that it was a yes!

Now the real work would begin……..

Come back next week for part 2 of our Countryfile story which includes the week leading up to filming, the amazing old farm images we found in our archive for Countryfile, having to keep the news as low key and as quiet as possible so as not to let the story out to anyone or any media before filming, and how we did this with over 300 pupils and 130 staff!

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