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The Brewery’s music-mad Maria Duddin on her love of Glastonbury mud, Kerrang! and Gordon Brown
My name is Maria Duddin.
I am general manager at The Brewery.
I have worked here since November 2001.
They call me ‘mini duke’, short for ‘jukebox’, as I know a ridiculous number of random song lyrics and sing them out loud for no apparent reason.
I’ve been in the events industry since graduating from Sheffield Hallam in 1999.
My first event was a brain game event for Marie Curie; it’s now an annual fixture at The Brewery.
I’ll always remember when rock magazine Kerrang! had its first annual awards ceremony here. The tables were overloaded with beer but everyone was pretty well behaved except one particular TV star, who decided it would be really funny to pick up some horse manure from the street outside and throw it into our courtyard on his way out. It didn’t put us off though: the magazine is hosting its third awards with us this year.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt so far is that the devil is in the detail.
People always comment on how huge The Brewery is. They can’t believe that over 2,000sq ft of dedicated event space exists right in the middle of the City.
I particularly like the Smeaton Vaults, where the brewery’s beer was once stored. You expect the rooms to look like traditional beer cellars but instead they are modern and minimal – it’s a real surprise.
You may be surprised to hear that we host politicians. Gordon Brown was here recently for the End World Poverty campaign.
The whole venue was taken up with press, delegates and security for two days.
Recently, we hosted a Virgin Unite fundraiser, with Johnny Vaughan as compere: the theme was ‘Alice in Wonderland – Through the Looking Glass’ and we had bespoke characters from the book, such as oversized playing cards, chess pieces and furniture, greeting guests as they entered.
After an event, you’ll find me dancing around to anything on my iPod or catching a live band.
When I need inspiration I head down to Brick Lane and look at vintage shops and markets for creative event ideas. There’s so much life and colour in London to stimulate your imagination.
Later this year, I’m looking forward to Glastonbury. I’ll be wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans, lying in the sun and drinking beers. I go every year and I even love the mud!
In 10 years’ time I want to be writing my first novel on a beach somewhere, preferably with a horse nearby. I used to compete in national show-jumping events and miss riding.
My famous last words will be ‘whatever’.
The Brewery, Chiswell Street,
London EC1Y 4SD,
tel: 0800 068 1288,
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2009.