Chris Skeith AEO

AEO chief exec recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has announced that its chief executive officer, Chris Skeith, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE), as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 for services to the events industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AEO, as part of the Events Industry Alliance (EIA), a cross-association coalition, which also includes the AEV (Association of Event Venues) and ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association).

CEO of the AEO since 2014, Skeith and his counterparts, Rachel Parker, AEV, Andrew Harrison, ESSA, have fought for trade and consumer business events to “be seen, be heard, and be understood” throughout the pandemic.

The events industry faced – and is still facing – ever changing, and often compounding, concerns. Skeith remained a resolute advocator for the industry through each challenge that arose, with notable activities like: getting official guidance to separate organised events from mass gatherings, quantifying the detrimental economic impact of the postponement of events on trade in the UK, aggressively advocating on behalf of the significant amount of job losses in the sector, delivering health and safety guidelines for robust re-opening protocols, and ensuring the financial support for the sector included businesses of all scope and size.

Simon Parker, chair of the AEO, said: “On behalf of the AEO, and the wider events industry, I would like to thank Chris for all of his work during the pandemic, and to congratulate him on this tremendous honour. These campaigns were made possible with a large amount of dedication and support from many people, however in particular, we have Chris’s consistency, responsiveness, and positivity to thank for ensuring that through each new tier programme, reopening date, furlough scheme, and health and safety discussion, the events industry was part of the constructive dialogues with the appropriate officials. We are incredibly fortunate to have had Chris’s steadfast leadership during this critical period.”

Skeith commented: “I am overwhelmed by this recognition. I honestly could never have imagined something like this when I started in the events industry 20+ years ago. I am incredibly grateful and honoured, and I truly believe this tribute is a reflection of the work of our entire industry during the pandemic. Every organiser, venue, and supplier, in the business events community, as well as our partners within the Government, came together when we needed to protect and assist our industry. We realised straight away the only way to be productive during this time, when so much was at stake, was to do what the events industry is great at – to build connections between people. Through everything we did, and will continue to do, we remember and focussed on the individuals involved, their lives and livelihoods, and the fact that together, we were all going through the same uncertain situation. This helped us to build strong bridges and to be solution-driven.”