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The RailStaff Awards 2014 will be bringing all the magic of the Big Top to Coventry Ricoh Arena this October. The Circus is coming back to railways. ‘The huge space of the Ricoh Arena means we can create the magic of a one-night Circus Special for the RailStaff Awards,’ says Lianne O’Connor, events director, Rail Media. ‘It’s going to be our best RailStaff Awards ever.’

Thought to have originated in the chariot races and horse-clan acrobatics of pre-history, the circus encapsulates the magic of motion, captured in the daily drama of our own industry. The word either comes from the Greek kirkos, meaning circle or from, Circe, the goddess, who liked to hold a big annual party for her father, Helios, the Sun God.

The RailStaff Awards is staging a circus-themed party to celebrate the men and women of the railway industry. If horses have given way to locomotives, the acrobats, lion tamers and ringmasters, who perform high wire miracles of modern transport, are still very much in charge.021 [online]

Toffee Apples

People will be encouraged to come in fancy dress – as ringmasters, trapeze artists and harlequins – there’s always room for humour, a big part of the RailStaff Awards.

Although after one senior rail official announced plans to come as a dangerous wild animal, Rail Media organisers stressed no live animals are being used in the staging of the 2014 RailStaff Awards.

Coventry Ricoh Arena will be recreated as a Circus Big Top with jugglers, dancers, stilt walkers and fire swallowers welcoming guests when they arrive. Futuristic lighting, wagons and photo booths will take visitors back to the steam-age he of the circus. Inside, the Olympian arena will have two stages and four podiums all set against the soaring backdrop of a circus tent.

Fancy dress is strongly encouraged with circus make-up artists on hand with face paints, wigs and properties as needed. As well as show booths there will be candy floss, toffee apples and pop corn. Dinner itself will be a sit down four course feast – a cordon bleu sleight of hand to equal Michelin-starred magicians everywhere.

Moscow State Circus

The link between the circus and the railway dates back to the Victorian era. Circuses often used the railway to transport the whole show across continents, pausing at towns along the way to stage the show. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the United States still uses a one mile-long train to transport what is billed as the Greatest Show On Earth.

The enduring popularity of circus is a phenomenon around the world. From Asia to America and Russia to Britain children and adults love the circus. It’s popular entertainment that has stood the test of tumult and television. Even in Soviet Russia the circus endured – communist authorities early on decided the circus was a working class entertainment medium – compared to opera and satirical theatre. The Circus School in Moscow dates from 1927. This summer the Moscow State Circus is itself on tour in England’s West Country.

UK’s Leading Circus Company

This year the RailStaff Awards 2014 circus theme underpins the huge progress made by the industry and shines a light on the hard work, daring and innovation of the ordinary men and women at work day and night on the railway.

A highly innovative and exciting Circus Theatre Company, Incandescence, will be staging much of the entertainment. Top performers from Incandescence are pictured here. Ringmaster, Colin Flack, chief executive of the Rail Alliance, will be in charge of proceedings under the Big Top including the presentation of the prizes.

Bravest and best

The Coventry Ricoh Arena lends itself to the drama and action of the circus with its 24 hour cafés and restaurants, hotel and all night casino. The RailStaff Awards 2014 will be a big party under a big top, celebrating the confidence and futuristic somersault of an industry that recreated itself, defied the recession and is galloping forward with ambitious plans for expansion.

Fire-acro 1 [online]Good food, dancing and drama make it a perfect location to catch up with friends and raise a glass to all that is bravest and best in the industry. For many employers, suppliers and industry colleagues it is a unique chance to say thank you to team members and individuals who together have done so much to turn the industry around.

Above all the RailStaff Awards 2014 is an opportunity to step out and encourage railway staff, the backbone of any successful railway enterprise. Nominations are open now with advice on how to nominate colleagues on the website. The RailStaff Awards 2014 is for the ordinary people, clerks, fitters, track workers and traincrew who go far further than the job description stipulates.

If circus means ring and corresponds to wheel and flange, Circe’s party-animal bash in honour of her father is perhaps the better description. ‘Except it is not in honour of Helios – good show though he’s put on this summer – but of the men and women of our industry.

The real heroes and heroines are there working beside you – come rain or shine,’ says Lianne. ‘The evening will be full of entertainment, unexpected surprises and good food and company. Always remember the presentations are the most important part of the evening and rollup those nominations now.’


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