Old Foleyan Chris Ireland came back to School yesterday evening. Chris is Operations Director at LEGOLAND® Windsor. It’s a busy place and a good number of our LEGO® fans came to the Great Hall to hear him speak.
Some 25 million bricks were used to create all the models in the Park – and 20 million of these are found in Miniland alone. 2 million visitors come every year and Chris, with his team of staff, get the ticket booths open, the rides running safely, the souvenirs selling quickly. He responds, at least hourly, to customer feedback (given electronically around the park) on how their day is going by sending out entertainers, managing queues and systematically removing any impediment to having fun. The delivery of ‘fun’ is backed up by sophisticated systems and dynamic teams, he demonstrated.
Chris left OSH straight after A Levels and worked for a while with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford before realising that life as a chef was not necessarily for him, so he joined the hospitality industry via West Midlands Safari Park and then joined LEGOLAND® Windsor. He now leads and manages 700 employees and is gearing them up for half term. About 70 boarders came to hear him speak and hear him state, quite emphatically, that the inter-personal skills, confidence and the ability to present to others which he developed at OSH all put him in incredibly good stead for his current responsibilities. He regaled the boys with tales of his beginning in Prospect and involvement in life at OSH before making his engaging presentation and then a nostalgic visit to Baxter, his old house.
A quick exit poll suggested that a number of boys are planning to visit LEGOLAND® Windsor this October half term. With the greatest respect to Chris, and the brilliant park that he runs (having been there myself with our three boys), I have nothing but admiration for parents, guardians and grandparents who are able to surf the tide of visitors during peak times. For those of you, like me, who prefer the quieter life, I do hope that this half term brings a degree of rest, peace and calm. I imagine, of course, that there will be times when the demands, especially of younger children, prompt you to join the noisy throng. In this case you might be mindful of Roald Dahl, who wrote in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator that
‘a little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men’
With best wishes for this half term,