Staff were divided into three teams. We assume a rigorous process was undertaken to ensure that the skill-set was evenly distributed! There are many factors to consider after all: some people have a good general knowledge of the Richmond area (either because they make sure they get their recommended daily 30 minutes of exercise at lunchtime or because they “gotta catch ‘em all”). Others may be a bit too familiar with certain buildings which may include the local pubs, perhaps visited after a hard day’s work. Then there are those who simply may not be used to lifting their eyeline above ground level.
Just before the briefing, the well-constructed teams (consisting of three, four and five members) were asked to share their team names. Given that teams had had a week to come up with these, the creative flair of the agency and the phrase ‘great minds think alike’ were especially highlighted at this moment as all three team names were acronyms of their members’ names - imagine that!
So, what was our challenge? We were to follow a set of written directions, starting from Richmond station and ending at a secret location, while answering questions and riddles on the way that pertained to landmarks along the route. It also required searching for and identifying particular features of buildings that one may not normally notice on their day-to-day stroll. Points were earned for each task completed and question answered. Furthermore, there was the opportunity to gain a few bonus points for carrying out particular tasks which included taking a photo of a traffic warden. A happy traffic warden!
At 3.30pm, the teams set-off in a staggered fashion to allow the preceding team to make some headway.
It was a bright and lovely summer day on August 23rd, and what a day it was to witness three groups, apparently comprising adults, doing the oddest things. Some were desperately pleading with a traffic warden for permission to take their photo; others were suddenly speeding away from their current location so as to not give away a new-found clue to a competing team in the vicinity. Then there were those kindly asking members of the public relaxing on memorial benches to move out of the way of an engraving they happened to be obscuring as though it was a matter of life and death, and then jumping up and down in excitement and glee having deciphered a riddle. The desire to win was definitely in the air.
Two hours later, all teams finally reconvened at ‘Pitcher and Piano’ pub to gather their assets and count their scores.
Red-ink pens poised, the marking was brutal: there was heavy criticism of a particular team’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy. Spelling errors were pointed out rather quickly - ironically not by any of the editorial team; ambiguous answers were written-off; and scathing comments on picture quality were thrown into the mix (the battle between the iPhone and Samsung still rages on).
By the end of the day, high tide had reached Richmond Lock and overflowed, flooding part of the route. Health and safety was given as the reason why some of the questions hadn’t been answered due to an incomplete route… Not that they just hadn’t gotten there in time; this justification was vehemently shut down.
After what seemed like an age, it was determined that the team of three won, although it was a very close result across all three teams.
Bags of honour emblazoned with ‘I [heart] Richmond’, were given as prizes with some sweet treats.
All in all, it was a very eventful and team-building event that we all thoroughly enjoyed, and it gave us the opportunity to renew our appreciation for the area we work in.