Pitman Training international conference for PAs

Now over 80 people will be at the Grange on 16 March

By | Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

More people are enthusiastically signing up every day to join us on Friday at the Grange so get ready to rock.  We still have a few places, so it’s not too late if you want to bring a friend or colleague at Bring A Buddy rate – just call us!

Start time for breakfast and getting to know each other is 8.30am.  We will be at the main entrance to meet you and introduce you around.  Don’t worry if you are running late – this is London and transport isn’t quite under your control!  We will make sure you can slip seamlessly into your session. 

If you can’t make it at all though please let us know – just text us on 07809 738 384


For full information on the conference/training event see  or call us on 020 7256 6668


Lily James, Winston Churchill’s PA in Darkest Hour took her typing lessons with Pitman Training

By | Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

We were thrilled to hear our very own Liz Davis get a mention from Lily James on BBC Radio 2.

You can listen to the interview here:

Lily James who plays Winston Churchill’s wartime PA in Darkest Hour has confessed to having typing lessons for the part and referred to her brilliantly eccentric tutor.  The question on Steve Wright’s interview is ‘Was it Pitman?’  We can confirm definitely ‘Yes, it was!’

Liz Davis, our IT and keyboard skills tutor at Pitman Training, London EC2 was the ‘eccentric’ but her training is anything but.  The acting task was not just to sit at the keyboard but to authentically work on a period typewriter, touch typing without looking at the keyboard.  This is so totally different and a much more physical skill than we see today.

Lily and the girls in the Typing Pool needed to sit correctly – in those days posture was everything but, whereas now we sit with both feet together, they sat with one foot in front of the other!  This was partly because typing was a manual skill – you had to really bash the keys, hit the Carriage Release lever and the Tab key, with a fair degree of force and with even pressure on all the keys.  And the positioning of their feet kept typists stable and from falling off the chair!

Hard work at the time. The Darkest Hour actors had to do all this while learning lines and staying in character.  Churchill’s PA Elizabeth Layton, and Lily, had to perform another miracle – typing while Churchill, in the film played by the BAFTA nominated Gary Oldman, walked around the room barking dictation and conversing!

Liz Davis, Pitman Training says, “What Lily did was incredibly impressive, it was really hard work, learning to touch type with all the nuances in between learning lines.  It was done on location and I coached in our normal Pitman Training way but it was challenging between rehearsals and customising for the film.  I sometimes enjoyed playing Winston myself and barking the speeches at her so she could practise as authentically as possible!”

You too can be a star ‘Lily’ style, by doing the Pitman Training Learn to Type in 2 Days lessons with Liz Davis or enrolling on our Typaz Online course.  Contact 020 7256 6668 or email


Magic Dust Effect! We had new ideas this week …did you? Please share if you did!

By | Fresh thinking, New Ideas, Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators, Uncategorized | No Comments

We met with sixteen PAs who had a well spent 90 minutes out of the office this week at our Magic Dust sessions to catch up with each other over coffee and croissants. It was a chance to share how things were going after the conference, how the action plans were progressing and it turned into a really great session of sharing thoughts, ideas and tips.

Margaret was with us at Pitman Training to facilitate the meeting and to help with the principles of SMART action plans!

She says, “It was heartening to hear good use was being made of skills and the extra confidence and motivation which PAs had picked up from the conference.  We shared and celebrated successes and heard lots of motivational and inspiring stories.”

Laura from Pearson told us the heart warming story of Sugata Mitra who pioneered his Hole in the Wall project. Sugata first experimented with putting a pc in the wall in remote parts of India. Within minutes young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own — and then taught other kids, learning English in the process! Sugata spoke as a guest speaker at a Pearson Conference where Laura heard about it.  Laura found the idea interesting and ingenious and it’s one of the reasons that she particularly loves working in education. It is worth watching Sugata’s TED talk to see how he developed the concept and impact it has had.

Someone was looking for a better way to efficiently schedule meetings with colleagues operating in different countries and time zones. An instant answer from Louise and Laura was to use The Doodle app or look at (currently under construction).  Other people who also used these tools were able to explain the various merits of each one.

One person shared disappointment that she had tried to connect with another PA from the conference day and had not heard back. As most of us have been in a similar situation, the group encouraged her not to give up but perhaps try a different method of communication.  Perhaps the first attempt had ended up in junk mail, or maybe LinkedIn was not visited on a regular basis. The person may have been on holiday or sick – don’t give up and just try again.

Kelly also shared how she had the opportunity to speak out in support of new mental health structures which were being put in place in her organisation. Since the conference we have had Mental Health day and Dame Kelly Holmes also chose to speak on the subject as she did at the conference.

Laura also mentioned the experiences at her company of a PA/EA group discussion. “The group decided that it would be a good idea for us to centralise our information and our experiences, an internal EA/PA training and information page on our internal Social site has been created by an enterprising group member, Jackie, who has gone on to organise internal training and group information days.”  So a great example of ‘internal’ networking!

Chloe admitted that she felt super shy when networking, but having to attend the International Pitman Training conference gave her a great deal of confidence. She has broken out of her shell and quite courageously gone to networking events on her own and actually made connections – something she was not able to do in the past!

Finally the general feedback was that the chance to reconnect with other conference delegates was seen as very positive thing and pretty unique. Training or conference events usually just finish and if there are some promises to keep in touch they generally get forgotten when everyone gets back to work!

So far only 16 out of about 70 people attending the conference took up the offer but we will put on future dates. However there will be other opportunities so watch this space and keep in touch through this site or direct.  If your company has space and would be happy to host a Magic Dust networking meeting, then just let us know as we do not always have enough space available.

And any of your stories, thoughts, tips, just send them in please!

PS Why do we use the phrase Magic Dust?  Because we know that in 90 minutes of quality discussion, everyone takes away that little sprinkle of a new idea or confidence to do something differently!


Facing the Fear..the First Public Speaking Engagement – Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators, Uncategorized | No Comments

Last Friday was the Pitman International training conference.  Kelly was all set to do one of her motivational talks. The presentation and videos had been sent ahead, logistics were all sorted, the only difference was that for the first time ever I was going to join her on stage for the Q & A session talking about working as a PA for Kelly.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that the thought of public speaking terrifies me. I’m always very impressed by those people who have no concerns or nerves when addressing a crowd. I wasn’t too bad first thing on Friday but the nerves kicked in when I looked at Twitter and saw a picture of the conference under way. It definitely became real at that point. Instead of clock watching and getting more nervous I headed into London early and spent some time browsing House of Fraser. I could have easily bought about 10 handbags in my slightly agitated state, I wish I had now!

Still early to meet Kelly I sat in Costa and people watched across London Bridge which was strangely relaxing.

We arrived at the venue and were met by Maggie, Managing Director of Love and Tate and were shown around the venue. The Grange hotel was a great central venue and the conference rooms had been decorated with lots of flowers and plants by Jo the event manager. I was fitted with my mic and at that point there really was no escape.

I sat side-stage in the conference room where the PAs were all seated to hear Kelly’s talk. Kelly spoke about motivation and the importance of believing in yourself with examples from her own career in the military and athletics. As a double Olympic Gold medallist with an MBE she definitely knows the highs of success but also the real lows, so can share how to pick yourself up and keep the belief alive. She also stated that she knows ‘what an important job all PAs and your support team do’ a message that I am sure the audience appreciated hearing.

After this I joined Kelly on stage for the Q & As. Amazingly there was no tripping up the steps and falling on to the stage, yes that’s a scenario I’d pictured! It all went smoothly and once we got going I found myself able to relax into it and focus on the questions and share how Kelly and I make our relationship work. We decided the most important aspect of the relationship was developing trust and a mutual understanding of what we needed from each other to make the whole busy organisation of her diary and events work. So excellent communication is a must.

One of the nicest bits for me was meeting some of the PAs straight after the talk. They had clearly all been motivated by the day and I spoke to a few people about challenges they face in their roles as well as training that might be valuable to their job going forward.

Well done to Pitman for a great day and I hope there will be many more in the future. I also hope that more companies will start to see the benefit in investing in their PAs and support staff and encourage them to attend training conferences such as these. Not only does it make us all feel valued but we acquire new skills and ideas to take back to develop in the business. It is also great to get the chance to network with other PAs from all industries which will provide a support group to reach out to in the future.

I have now done nine blogs for Pitman Training at London EC2 talking about my role as Kelly’s PA. I have really enjoyed doing them and adding a bit of creativity to my day. I hope to do more blogs in the future either via Kelly’s café social media or as a guest blogger with Pitman.

Exercise….means I Keep Calm and Carry On! From Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

School’s back and it is time for me to kick start the exercise regime that Kelly initiated during the 3 months when I was her Level 3 Personal Training guinea pig.

I own up – things have slipped a bit over the summer holidays – my girls have been at home for 6 weeks and my gym closed for refurbishment.  Any childcare I have roped Grandparents in for has been to help me from a work point of view, rather than allowing me to nip to the gym!

Last week I had a beautiful lunch time swim in the rain.  Unsurprisingly not many people fancied   swimming in torrential conditions so I had the pool to myself!   It was lovely and I swam 50 lengths in about 40 minutes.  In that empty pool with steam rising and rain falling,  I felt like I just had some time to be in my own headspace and to be away from the computer and housework –  although I did get out of the pool half way through to check for any urgent messages.  I’m not great at switching off completely!

There has been a lot of press recently about how important physical activity is regarding mental health and wellbeing in general.  More so than ever companies look for ways to bring wellness into the workplace, whether it be encouraging healthy eating, complimentary therapists visiting the offices, flexible working or generally encouraging their staff to take part in more exercise.

The NHS website states that physical activities help maintain and improve wellness in a number of ways.  It can help with mild depression and there is evidence that it also helps to protect against anxiety.  Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.

One initiative I’ve heard more about recently is the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) which is a 100 day challenge that focuses on four main steps: walking, nutrition, balance and sleep – ultimately promoting a healthy lifestyle.  Colleagues can sign up in teams of 7 to walk, cycle, swim or run to make up steps in friendly competition against other teams across their companies and others.  Each team sets their own goals, supports and keeps track of each other.  Ultimate objective is to reach 10,000 steps or more a day each and increase your steps over the 100 days.  Companies who take part ultimately want healthier, happier colleagues whose well being is then reflected in the decisions they make and work they produce.

One thing I really noticed during my training with Kelly, apart from the physical changes is that I did feel less stressed and I was able to let situations that would have usually annoyed me to just wash over me more.

I remember an appraisal in my early days as a PA and my Publisher and Editor said they thought I was like a swan, calm and collected on the outside and, if I was stressed, no one would see the feet paddling rapidly beneath the water.    I have always been able to hide stress fairly well but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there – and now we know that hiding it isn’t always the best way to cope.  So we need different ways of dealing with it and I have definitely come round to the idea of ‘looking after yourself’ – prioritising a fit and healthy routine is a very good thing for your self, your family and your work.

So I’ll be re-joining the gym this week, I’ll be back on my bike and maybe I’ll ask Kelly to record a message for me saying ‘Get back on it, and no excuses!’  Sharing your goals is a great way to help you keep you on track.

TECHNOLOGY – WILL I BE REPLACED BY A ROBOT? From Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | 4 Comments

Over the last few weeks I have made a start on my Pitman courses, Social Media for Business and Blogging for business.  I have loved learning again.   I did my PA course quite a long time ago in 1998 and since then have done first aid courses and a one-year Reflexology course at weekends.  I like finding out more about subjects that interest me and adding skills to my CV.

Doing my social media course has highlighted how much things have changed over the years, particularly in the area of technology.

My first mobile was known as ‘the brick’.  It was just a mobile – all it could do was call!   Now my phone connects to friends, family and colleagues instantly with text and gives you the internet at your fingertips.  My phone helps me to check train times and live running times for Kelly and to book her cars in London on the Green Tomato app.

Then there were typewriters…anyone remember?    My secretarial lessons at school involved the use of typewriters and to make copies of your documents you inserted carbon paper between each sheet.  There was limited access to photocopiers and definitely no scanning.  (I’m feeling quite old right now!) There was no spell check…oh well there was a secretary with a dictionary.  It was down to you as the PA/Secretary to double check everything before sending out letters/documents.

Then in my last year at school I owned a word processor (very advanced at the time!) and documents were saved on floppy discs, so at least we could print copies and throw away the messy carbon paper.

There was still no way to e-mail your work or use internet sites like ‘WeTransfer’  – instead there was the facsimile machine (fax) which sometimes had it’s own dedicated operator.  Now we all send documents flying around by e-mail and often cc other people.  I’ve just realised the cc on e-mails still refers to ‘carbon copy’ though it is electronic.   I wonder how many PAs starting out today would know that?

Working with Kelly 20 years ago would be very different.  We would need frequent meetings, a lot more phone calls, a paper diary, images for approval would be sent by post or faxed.  There would a slower turn around for everything except maybe face to face decisions.    Meetings were  Powerpoint  free and instead we used overhead projectors where you prepared your presentation on acetate sheets and projected them on a screen or a wall!

Technology has come on leaps and bounds not only changing the way we work, the speed at which we work and our expectations for near impossible deadlines but also the language we use.  Typewriter, fax, telex, carbon copy all defunct!       I’ll text you, poke you or wave, Skype or facetime you, follow you or link and read your Blog!

Instant communication is the norm.  Businesses reach out to their customers using social media and promote their company via ads on other people’s social media sites.  Communication in business is key and for Kelly and I Whatsapp is invaluable for quick questions and updates and shared electronic diaries  are instantly updated.

With all the positives there are some negatives.  The Inbox can sometimes feel at bursting point and I tend to receive between 30 and 80 emails a day, some can get a quick response and others might be more time consuming , so you have to manage the expectation of that impatient person who expects things to be right and fast.

There is huge danger in e-mailing the wrong Tom, Dick or Harry when you choose quickly from the helpful Ms list of your email contacts.   You dread being the one in the press who sends the horribly wrong email to the wrong person or shares sensitive content with the whole company!  There is the one recently about someone intending to send her CV but instead sent a Jamie Oliver recipe, not sure if she got the job!

My tactic is to attach a file to an e-mail and then open it immediately in the email to check it is the right document.  Mistakes happen but my own rule is when a document or info could be sensitive in the wrong hands – check and double check before hitting the send button.

With so much change in technology over the last 20 years will my job be in the hands of a robot 20 years from now?   It’s quite likely, but if so I will be sitting on a sunny beach communicating.    I can’t see that the robot replacement will be able to talk to someone like I can or build relationships.   Nor, when the chips are down, will it care like I do?

What’s your own old-tech memory or your favourite retro office equipment?

A PA’s Life –we are all managers now! Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

When I told Kelly that she had been booked to give a talk at the Pitman Conference for aspiring PAs and Executive Assistants she asked if I wanted to join her.  I replied ‘Er well actually they want me to come with you and join you on stage for a Q+A session!’

When you hear the word Pitman everyone knows what a well-established company they are and I looked through some of my early certificates and found out my shorthand certificate was awarded from Pitman.

Many companies will be giving their PAs and support staff a day to attend this training conference.  I think it is a great way to show their people that they are valued by investing in them and supporting them to be the best they can be.  This fits with Kelly’s philosophy as an elite athlete – never stop developing yourself or striving to achieve. Other PAs will have signed up because they are interested in upskilling themselves and developing in other areas.  Either way the time spent at this conference seems sure to bring more skills and a different view or approach to both the careers of people who attend and the businesses and teams they work with.

Looking back over my career, the role of PA has changed dramatically.  And the theme of ‘fresh thinking to empower you in a changing world’ says it all.  The traditional secretarial skills of typing, note-taking, managing diaries are still really important but we are expected to use our initiative, plan time and events, manage the budget and make all sorts of decisions.   While before we may have just responded to what our boss asked us to do,  now we need to think ahead, offer up answers, suggestions and solutions – often instantly –  and it’s become much more of a partnership which I love.  You do need to gain more knowledge of the business in order to think and behave more assertively and confidently – so more responsibility on us to develop ourselves.

Having looked at the itinerary the conference includes useful subjects such as ‘Networking isn’t just for Extroverts’, ‘What’s Your Brand?’ discussing how to make you stand out from the crowd, ‘Influencing and Assertiveness’  looking at how your behaviour can directly impact on others and influence the outcomes of situations dramatically. Then there’s ‘Speed Writing’ to help capture all the nitty gritty notes and details you need to remember or pass on to other people.

Speed writing is something I am interested in learning more about, myself.  While I did take a shorthand course, I don’t use it that much day to day now.  I do find myself throwing the odd shorthand word in when taking notes and I might write a present list in shorthand so eager little eyes don’t spot what might be on their Christmas list.  Learning the modern version of speed writing could be very useful all round!

At the end of the day Dame Kelly will talk about her story and achievements and how positivity and persistence paid off.  She will also explore the value and importance of support (I’ll be particularly keen that logistics and travel have gone to plan on this day!)

For me, joining Kelly on stage initially terrified me and to be honest it still does a bit.  I like to be behind the scenes organising things rather than being out in front of an audience.  A couple of my friends are freelance trainers and regularly visit big companies to train their staff and of course Kelly gives motivational talks regularly.  I know they are great at their jobs but to me public speaking wouldn’t be my choice of career!  But here goes on the 22nd September.

Pitman also asked if I would like to write a blog about my career and current role as Kelly’s PA.  So far I have written six blogs all of which have been featured on the Pitman Training conference website.   This is a new thing for me and I have really enjoyed doing it.  It’s great to be a bit creative and see your work published.  It has also been interesting to remind myself how much Kelly and I have actually done and achieved over the last 3.5 years.

The conference won’t be the end of blogging for me – I have enjoyed doing the blogs so much that I have also signed up to do a Pitman Blogging for Business course and Social Media for Business and I’m really looking forward to getting started on them.  The courses can be done from home so this is ideal for me when I’ll be fitting the work around my PA role for Kelly and my home life – the juggling act continues.  Once I have these qualifications   I will be more confident helping in different areas of Kelly’s life which might include promoting her 1809 cafes on social media or other events we get involved in as well as the diary management and logistics side of things.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the conference on the 22 September in the Q+A session and if anyone’s wondering what my choice would be for Dutch courage?  Mine’s a G&T thanks but perhaps I’ll leave that until after the talk!

For full information on the conference/training event see  or call them on 020 7256 6668

A PA’s Day, the Art of Juggling… from Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

Two weeks into the school holidays. So far juggling work and the girls has gone well thanks to a holiday club for 4 mornings and having some friends round to play.

Work is usually a little quieter in August as lots of people are away. But quiet suits me right now as it gives me time to think ahead to a very busy second half of the year.

Kelly has nine speaking engagements for September. I’m booking in briefing calls for all of them, working out travel and logistics, booking hair and makeup appointments. Once sorted, the diary will change repeatedly as Kelly often wants to fit more into her day. Like so many PAs, I have had to master the art of juggling – and at short notice!

Day to day I keep track of Kelly’s life in an A4 note book and stay on top of it all with my constantly updated ‘to-do’ list. However when a month, like September, has so many engagements planned I draw tables to keep track of each one so I can see the key contact and what’s happening on each at a glance.

Two of Kelly’s engagements in September are health and wellbeing events with requests that her café (Café 1809) supply food and drinks. This takes more planning and liaising, as we need to work out what facilities Kelly wants there – van or hut, the size of the space needed, utilities such as electricity and water, seating space etc.

Another event is the International Pitman Training Conference for aspiring PAs, Secretaries and Administrator on 22 September. Kelly is speaking and sharing her amazing journey to Olympic Gold and how goals and motivation – as well as hard work, talent and belief – play a critical part in the route to success. I’m there too taking part in the Q and A.

My job is to make sure that everything in Kelly’s business life goes fairly smoothly and normally it does, but we have had a couple of close calls.

Travelling and transport are the main area where things can go wrong. For car travel I always use the AA route finder to find out how long a journey should take and then build in an extra 45 minutes – or longer if outside London!

A recent trip to an engagement in Wales didn’t go according to plan. The 3.5 hour journey took over 6 hours – terrible traffic, torrential rain and a Coldplay concert which meant roads had been closed. I spent about an hour texting everyone to keep them informed, the hotel manager kindly walked to a road block in the tipping rain to get Kelly’s bags so she was dropped straight to the venue – arriving only 45 minutes late! A bit stressful but not a disaster!

Then there was a missed train to Manchester when Kelly’s taxi and a bus had a scrape on the way to Euston. Fortunately the engagement was the next morning and Kelly had decided to travel the evening before. However well you organise, sometimes you just need damage limitation!

Getting back to events, Kelly is taking part in a Virtual Run for her charities which Fitness Rewards is organising for us. Keen runners can do their own virtual run anywhere or they can join in on the actual 5K event on the 10th September in Crawley. Kelly will be there! There is still time for all you keenies to join in – info at the end.

At the end of the month Kelly has a trip to Abu Dhabi for her work as Ambassador with a healthcare company called Daman in the UAE. She travels there 4 times a year to work with kids and motivate them in sport and encourage healthier lives.

I joined her in Dubai on one of her work trips and it was a great experience. We took part in the Daman Electric Run. It was 5K around a race course in the dark with sections lit up in neon lights and even at 9 pm at night it was pretty hot. Dress code was sports kit, pink tutus, neon torches and face paint! While Kelly sprinted off I took a leisurely approach as this was before my Personal Training sessions.

I’m just waiting for an engagement to come up in NY and perhaps I can persuade Kelly to let me carry her bags!

For now it’s back to my to do lists so I can have a couple of weeks off and come back supremely organised and in control – until I have to change it all.

Join the run: for details go to

Pitman Training International Conference for aspiring PAs, Secretaries and professional administrators

Every child needs a hero – from Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

Kelly believes that every child needs a hero, someone to look up to and be inspired by.

That’s why she set up her own charity, The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust (DKHT), which helps disadvantaged young people in deprived areas.   Kelly’s vision is to get young lives back on track by using the unique skills of world class athletes to engage, enable and empower.

It is inspiring to work with someone who has such beliefs and this theme runs through everything she does and everything I do to support her.  I often receive charity requests for Kelly from a wide variety of people.   Because Kelly has fully committed her time to 5 charities we do have to decline some of the approaches.

Through Kelly’s work with her Trust I have seen first-hand why the charity is so successful.  I have organised visits to her café from some of the Young Get on Track team who have come to Kelly’s café to learn how her business is run and to also hear a motivational talk from Kelly.

I have been very busy helping Kelly with her fundraising but once we have hit her goal I’d like to set myself a few challenges and do more 5k charity runs – especially now I have had all the training.

In April 2016 Kelly decided to run her first ever London marathon as part of her fund-raising efforts.  She does like a challenge or three!  She is not a marathon runner and this distance was sure to pose a real challenge so she wanted to do lots of training in the build-up as it was a last minute decision to take part.  This meant clearing lots of space in a very busy diary – postponing meetings that weren’t urgent or replacing face-to-face meetings with phone calls to buy time.   Kelly’s speaking commitments remained top priority as well as her training.

Then she launched another personal challenge alongside this – she set a goal to raise a whopping quarter of a £million for the five charities close to her heart.

Kelly raised a lot of money through her marathon efforts and described it as ‘the toughest thing I have ever done’. And then it was on to organising many more fundraisers to get to the magic number…

My biggest personal challenge was a Gala Dinner in London.  It was called ‘Kelly’s Charity Birthday Bash’ and I had 6 weeks to organise the entire thing.  Kelly’s challenges are my challenges too!

Hosted at the beautiful Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, on Kelly’s birthday, this event was the biggest contributor.  Someone from each of the 5 charities attended and I was their point of contact, making sure they were happy to present and talk on the night.

The venue had to look great and that was down to me.  It had to be fun for guests with an exciting charity auction.  I sourced a great selection of auction prizes and goody bags.  I liaised with the team at the hotel re seating plans, last minute changes and all the fine detail to make things run like clockwork.  I briefed newsreader, Clive Myrie, our host, who did a brilliant job with the live auction backed up by the fabulous Polly from Pickering who added encouragement with her very vocal support.

Those 6 weeks went by in a complete blur with quite a few late nights when I was checking and rechecking that everything was in place while continuing to make sure Kelly’s day to day life was in order.  I believe l managed to feed and clothe my children during this time too – quite how is a mystery.

But what a result – we raised lots of money for Kelly’s charities.  If anything went wrong none of us noticed anyway, it was such a great night.

We still have a way to go to meet the £250,000 fundraising target and you can still get involved.  A virtual run is organised for 10th September and in the next blog I’ll let you know more.   I’m also meeting with a local trampoline park whose team is keen to assist us with an evening event.  Does anyone like bouncing?

 Kelly’s five chosen charities are: The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, Myeloma UK, Mind, Hospice in the Weald and The Pickering Cancer Drop in Centre.
Go to for more information.

From Hard Hats to Smoothies – a PA’s day! Andrea Medd, PA to Kelly Holmes

By | Dame Kelly Holmes., Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

I joined Kelly in May 2014 and I remember our business meetings in a tiny portacabin with people wandering around in hardhats.  Not your average office environment but it was because Kelly was about to launch her first café in her hometown of Hildenborough, Kent.

The building was a newsagent’s shop Kelly knew well – as a girl she had two paper rounds to get extra pocket money and later worked part-time in the shop.  Kelly wanted to bring a community hub to the village.  It was being demolished and redesigned with Kelly as Project Manager and, later in the year, was due to open as Café 1809 (pronounced one, eight, oh, nine!).

My first few months were focussed around learning about Kelly’s business life – speaking arrangements, travel, liaising with her agent, business manager, handling correspondence and responding to fan mail!   More of that for later, though, as the immediate priority was getting ready for the launch of the café.

As a PA I believe it is really important to understand your boss’s business, objectives and values.   Kelly is very focused and driven and has a clear picture of what she wants to do and how she would like things to be.  I soon also learnt that she is constantly in demand.

I had always been used to working with a boss who usually sat just a few feet away!   Initially I found it challenging that Kelly was not office-based.  I quickly learnt to prioritise the key things in Kelly’s business life and communicate in a way that suited us both. We agreed to meet once a week, with everything else on a daily email.  This is how we still work today.

Getting back to the café – catering and cafes were completely new to me!  I learned quickly with lots of healthy food and refreshing smoothie research and sample testing.  We ended up with a Rocky Road that can’t be beaten.

Then the renovations were complete.  I sat in on interviews, created staff files, chased references for employees, checked sizing for uniforms and ordered products for the café.  With tight deadlines, this was undeniably hard work.

James, our IT expert, and I created a hefty Health and Safety manual. With help on content from an industry expert, we made sure the information and documents were relevant to the 1809 building – fire and emergency exits and emergency drills, staff training, first aid training records and accident forms.  All had to reflect Kelly’s brand and values so there was careful proof reading to get them just right.

Just before the café was due to open Kelly took part in Bear Grylls ‘Mission Survive’.  She was in a remote area of South America with no phones, no technology and absolutely no way to check up on our progress! However she loved the challenge of the programme and adapted quite quickly to being uncontactable!  We all adapted to just getting on with it.

We worked to a tight deadline and it was important that we did what we could whilst she was away.  Because Kelly had been so involved she knew her team had a strong understanding of what needed doing and trusted us to get it done.

Having made it to the final three with Mike Tindall and Vogue Williams, Kelly returned a week before the launch.  It was all in place – the food, the local crowd, the musicians from the local school and the press coverage!

I mention all this because we have just done it all again – recently in June she opened her second café 1809 in Gravesend at the Cyclopark.    This time, as you can imagine, it was an easier process as the documentation was all in place.  Unfortunately there was much less sampling as the food and drinks are similar in both cafes!  No sledgehammers and hardhats this time either, just Kelly’s Café 1809 stamp to put on it – this is a warm and inviting environment where people can ‘Eat, drink, relax and smile’ – her café motto.

I was there on launch day and it has created lots of extra business activity – more interviews and filming, website promotion, requests for school visits and review of products for both cafes.

You may be wondering why 1809 (one, eight, oh, nine)?  This very special number was on Kelly’s bib when she won her two Gold Medals at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Hear from me again next Friday on another challenge and why there’s never a dull moment!