A Miracle on Hall Street

December is a month that always delivers; long nights, cold mornings and the occasional day-ruining snowstorm, or as is more likely in Greater Manchester, a new 24hr rainfall record.

Having said that, it can warm the heart of even the grumpiest blog writer, especially with the legendary Christmas Party to look forward to. Last Friday at The Saddleworth Hotel, staff, partners, ex-employees and friends came together for our yearly celebration of 12 months of hard work and, as ever, massive change.

The evening came after a long week of preparation – putting up Christmas trees, picking up secret santa gifts, assembling popcorn machines. You know, the usual stuff.

I arrived a little late, having spent the hour beforehand herding various guests into an assortment of cabs. The venue was already buzzing, the classic Christmas film theme invoked by a photographer dressed like a mid-20th century paparazzo and a choir singing Christmas carols. The upper ballroom of the Saddleworth Hotel is a stunning space which overlooks the ballroom below, and for the braver party guests, a glass walkway.

At the far end of the room stood a shelf full of sweet jars and the aforementioned popcorn machine, in keeping with the cinematic theme of the evening. When we moved downstairs, black and white Christmas films were being projected on to the back wall, and a roaring fire was in the hearth in the centre of the room. Before long, crackers were being pulled and we were arguing over the famous faces quiz. It was definitely Christmas.

Chief Executive Craig Dean spoke of the busy year we’ve had. As ever, the Christmas Party marked the end of a year of hard work, change and reinvention. We worked incredibly hard over the past year to get our brand new system, Extrali, off the ground, had the best User Group Seminar in our history, and appointed 2 new Directors to the Board from within.

We then held our own ‘academy awards’, followed by the traditional Christmas Quiz. Now I’m not known for writing easy quizzes, but I tried to make it fair this year. There was something for everyone, including the now customary ‘Webbie Faces’ round. The rumours are true, we did in fact Photoshop Jeff’s face on to John McClane:

As the gorgeous dinner concluded, some guests began to move upstairs for a dance, others sat watching an old feel-good Christmas filmbeing projected on to the back wall. A fantastic, well-earned after-party upstairs was the icing on the cake of a memorable night; an unforgettable Christmas for an unforgettable year.

Special thanks are in order to The Saddleworth Hotel, in particular John; our wonderful photographer Martyn Cartledge, who we highly recommend; the excellent Firwood Church Choir, and everyone that helped in the planning.