The woman behind Somerset’s Pavilion at the Cooper Associates County Ground
PUBLISHED: 16:02 19 September 2016
Richard Walsh meets the three women in charge of the Somerset Pavilion at the Cooper Associates County Ground
Like a phoenix arising from the ashes the new Somerset Pavilion at the Coopers Associates County Ground in Taunton has replaced the Old Pavilion that was demolished at the end of the 2014 season.
The responsibility for looking after the needs of those who use the Somerset Pavilion lies in the hands of three women. Sam Safe is the overall catering manager at SCCC and her deputy is Sophie Cridland, while Rachel Gliddon is the supervisor in the Stragglers Coffee House, which is situated at ground level in the building.
Sam Safe who has been involved with Somerset for more years that she likes to admit says: “It was a pretty daunting prospect at the start as it is such a big building, so naturally we were nervous because our full-time team is quite small.“However, once we had come to terms with that and we had moved in and go it up and running we got things sorted and now we are very pleased with the way that things are going.”
The catering manager talks about the number of guests that are catered for in the Somerset Pavilion.
“On an average four day match the Stragglers Coffee Shop can turn over about 100 lunches, the hospitality can hold 20 each so thats another 100, in the rooftop garden we cater for 35 and in the 1875 Club there are 100 members, so if everybody turns up we could be catering for getting on for 350 people! It has all gelled together well for us and I’m pretty pleased with the way things have gone, which is testament to the staff we have got working here.”
Sophie Cridland, who was appointed specifically to manage the catering in the Somerset Pavilion, says: “On a normal match day I come into the ground and start about 9am and work through until about 8pm, by which time everybody will have gone and we are prepared for the following morning, so its a pretty long day, but I enjoy it. It is my responsibility to look after the Somerset Pavilion, which means that I oversee the running of five executive boxes, the 1875 private members club, the rooftop terrace and roof garden and press box. It’s great to be working in the Somerset Pavilion in its first year and things are going well for us. We are very much setting our own standards as it is a new facility, which makes it hugely exciting.
“Everybody wants to come into the new pavilion and have a look for themselves and see what is going on and what we provide - so we are very happy with the way that things are going for us. Knowing that the focus was going to be on the Somerset Pavilion of course created a little bit of pressure because it was a new service that we were providing and we knew that we wanted to make a success of things, but I thrive off it and love the challenge.”
Rachel Gliddon, who is in charge of the Stragglers Coffee House, was supervisor in the Old Pavilion until it was demolished after which she left, but has returned especially to work in the new facility.“When the opportunity came along for me to return to work in the new Somerset Pavilion I couldn’t resist it,” Rachel says.“It’s a long day from the time we come in and open up to start until we go home but the team in the Stragglers are great to work with and everybody who comes in to be served is so friendly
“It’s been super busy and a bit manic at times since we opened and on a normal match day at lunchtime we can serve around 100 people with food. But everybody seems to be happy with the service we provide and leaves with a smile on their face, that is always a good sign. It’s quite tough because you have got about 45 minutes to feed everybody before they want to get out and watch the cricket again.”
One thing that is certain is that the new pavilion that was officially opened by Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the ECB last autumn is being enjoyed by all of the Somerset fans who are loving the new facilities now available to them.