My Event World - Lucy Meehan

Lucy Meehan joined the Natural History Museum (NHM) last June
Lucy Meehan joined the Natural History Museum (NHM) last June

Lucy Meehan, senior events manager at the Natural History Museum (NHM), spoke to Event about her initial plans to pursue a career in music, passion for charity events, and love of internet shopping.

I got into the event industry because… I fell into it. I was studying for a music degree at the University of Surrey, and as part of the course I undertook a year in the industry.

I worked for the London Symphony Orchestra’s education team, whose projects were based at LSO St Luke’s. I got to know the business and the team very well and during my last year of university, they offered me the role of administrative assistant. Three years later I was managing the events team and I stayed there for a further three years before finding the next challenge.

I have worked here since… June 2015, and what a time it’s been! November was the busiest month in the NHM’s history.

I was attracted to this particular role because… For me, NHM has always been the Mecca of the venue world. The first event I was invited to at the museum was in the Darwin Centre, and that made me realise just how dynamic the venue is and the amount of history that lives in the building.

The museum’s brand is respected around the world and I thought it would be a great organisation to further develop the skills I had acquired over the years and learn from some of the best in the industry. Plus, I love new challenges and learning about the history of the venue is definitely a part of the job that I enjoy.

Not many people know that I have my own link to the museum. In 1983 my father’s uncle discovered the claw of [dinosaur] Baryonyx, which led to the excavation of the rest of the specimen, which remains one of the largest and most complete of its kind in Europe.

The best event I’ve been involved was… The Shine Benefit Dinner has been a definite career highlight. We collaborated with several of our fantastic suppliers to bring the event together for a great cause. It is always a fantastic feeling when you are working with a company that does so much for the community.

If I could do it all over again I would… In terms of life, I don’t think I would change anything, because ultimately I wouldn’t be the same person. Professionally I would repeat one of my favourite events - The War Child Winter Wassail with Carey Mulligan at LSO St Luke’s.

It was a star-studded evening of entertainment that raised more than £300,000 for Warchild. I would do it all again because having artists like Ellie Goulding, Emelie Sande and Mumford and Sons attending and performing at the event was a dream come true.  

The one thing I can’t stand is... I think people who aren’t organised would be up there. It’s almost impossible to be in events and be disorganised, but I might be biased because I myself know that I’m a bit obsessive about attention to detail and I want things to be as perfect as possible for our clients.

Another one would probably be when clients don’t take our advice on certain elements of their events. Most of the time, it’s because they have worked with previous venues that aren’t as hands on, whereas we have the specialist knowledge to bring all productions to life, no matter how ambitious, and we are able to work with the Grade I-listed building to quick turnaround times.

Outside of work I spend my time Internet shopping! I’ve just recently married, so I’m really enjoying bringing some colour into our new home and being creative with it. Apart from that, you’ll find me spending time with my nephew who I’m sure would love to work at the museum in a scientific capacity when he’s older.

If money were no object I would… Careerwise, my husband, who works at the Barbican Centre, and I have always wanted to buy a venue that we could refurbish and transform into a great space for events.

I have always wanted to open an orphanage that uses music therapy to help improve the lives of the children there. I know from my personal experience that music can change your life.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be Nigel Mullins, senior operations manager at the NHM, and I am sure everyone in the museum would say the same.

Nigel has to be one of the most respected people not just in the museum but also in the industry. He has worked at the museum for more than 16 years, so you can only imagine the experience he has, what he has seen, and the different caterers and suppliers he has worked with.

If I ruled the event industry I would… It would be great if there were a day where event organisers created something spectacular in the name of charity that everyone could attend. It would be nice to see everyone involved and also to give access to people that wouldn’t normally attend these events.

More: My Event World - Jonathan Terry

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