Rebecca Woodhead is events manager at Trinity Leeds. She talks to Neil Hudson about superheroes and super slides
It’s not every day that you see superheroes perched on the roof of a shopping centre. But at Trinity Leeds, eye-catching events like this are becoming the norm.
It’s all thanks to Rebecca Woodhead, events manager at Trinity Leeds, who helps create unforgettable experiences for visitors.
“The best part is seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” Rebecca says. “I love knowing that I’ve helped play a part in making someone happy – that’s what it’s all about for me.
“No matter how big or how small the event, we just want to add a bit of magic into people’s day and create a sense of wonder.”
She adds: “Shopper habits have changed and people want more than just a shopping trip these days. They want entertainment and a memorable experience, and it’s my job to deliver that.”
The Wonder Weekend is one of the biggest events I have done and it’s definitely one of the highlights so far for meRebecca Woodhead
The 26-year-old from Huddersfield has come up with countless events, from something as simple as handing out love heart sweets on Valentine’s Day to a 22ft helter skelter slide, which was installed for shoppers as part of a hugely successful ‘Slide into Spring’ campaign.
“We had never done anything like that before and it was so ambitious,” Rebecca explains. “The slide was a year in the making but we got there in the end and people loved it. It was so rewarding and it changed our mindset of what we could do and how we could achieve it.
“Creating memorable experiences for shoppers is key. Not many shopping centres invest in shopper experiences as much as Trinity Leeds, and it makes my job such a pleasure to be given so much creative freedom.
“The thrill of coming up with a concept, bringing it to life and being involved is an incredible feeling. I don’t mind getting stuck in at these events either – I’ve been known to climb into skips in my wellies before just to get the job done. It’s all part and parcel of being in events.”
The £400m shopping centre’s recent Wonder Button event is the latest in a catalogue of stand-out experiences led by Rebecca.
Held over the Easter weekend, the Wonder Button was installed in the shopping centre’s main atrium and lit up at random points throughout the day, giving passers by the chance to press the button and win prizes.
“It’s all about creating a sense of excitement about what could be in store. We want people to get swept up in the idea that anything can happen at Trinity Leeds, from surprise performances by marching bands and carnival dancers to pop-up Zumba sessions and giveaways.”
The Wonder Button builds on the success of last year’s Wonder Weekend, which celebrated the start of the festive season and included performances by contortionists, artists, brass bands, gospel choirs, break dancers and ballroom dancers, to name a few.
The two-day festive extravaganza culminated in the centre’s Christmas lights switch-on, where the lights to Europe’s biggest Christmas ‘Kissing Tree’ were illuminated for the first time.
“The Wonder Weekend is one of the biggest events I have done and it’s definitely one of the highlights so far for me. I cried when the tree lit up. I was standing there so nervously, hoping it would work – and thankfully it did. The atmosphere was electric and we created a really special moment for people. All the 1am meetings were worth it. My mum came along and cried too, although she cries at every event. She’s just proud of me, I guess.”
Rebecca has achieved an incredible amount since joining the team at Trinity Leeds just two years ago, and even went the extra mile last year by tackling the London Marathon to help raise over £8,000 for Mencap – Trinity Leeds’ charity partner.
Rebecca completed the gruelling 26.2-mile race in four hours and 59 minutes, alongside a team of staff from Trinity Leeds.
“It was pretty emotional,” she adds. “But it was one of the best experiences of my life.” Before becoming part of the team at Trinity Leeds, Rebecca studied Events Management at Leeds Beckett University.
She explains: “Martin Green, who was Head of Ceremonies at the London Olympic Games in 2012, came in to give a talk to the students. It was so inspiring that I spent the next four years working towards joining the team in London.
“I got a games maker place at the end of my course which was a dream come true. I got to work in the Athletes’ Village at the Olympics which was incredible. I learned so much and was doing everything from helping the athletes with ice baths to supporting the teams before they go out on the field.
“The sheer size and scale of it was amazing, and to walk past Mo Farah in the morning and say ‘hello’ was bizarre but fantastic.” Rebecca then joined the Science Museum Group, working on events at the National Railway Museum and National Media Museum. She explains: “Working on such high profile, big-scale events gave me the perfect foundations for working at Trinity Leeds.”
Rebecca, who lives in Roundhay, adds: “The sky really is the limit here, and all ideas – no matter how out-of-the-box they are – are carefully considered and if we can make it happen, we will.
“The blue sky thinking is one of the reasons I work here. The ability to create and come up with new ideas and make amazing experiences for customers is so important to me.
“I also really enjoy standing in the background and watching the reactions from people.
“There is such a variety of events here and so much work goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen. There’s still so much more in store for visitors in the coming months – just wait and see.”
Trinity Leeds recently welcomed its 100,000,000th visitor
The £400m shopping and leisure destination includes 120 shops, stores and restaurants
Wonder Weekend saw 150 staff involved in the making of the two-day event
More than 132,000 people visited Trinity Leeds during the Wonder Weekend – a figure that is higher than their opening day – for the launch of the ‘Kissing Tree’
The latest Student Night saw a record-breaking 25,000 students attend.
The scentre opened in 2012