CPO for Kynren – the Best Procurement Job in the UK?

We love stories about unusual procurement roles and tasks – if you missed our interview with top clown Dingle Fingle (alias Stephen Grindle) last year, it is very entertaining and interesting - do read it here!

Being up in the north-east again over the last weekend, we spotted these articles in the Northern Echo and the NEConnected website here. They feature what sounds like an amazing event taking place in Bishop Auckland near Durham this summer.

Kynren is a dramatized story of British history, spanning 2000 years and using hundreds of amateur performers under professional direction, with “impeccably recreated props including boats, cars and a steam train, as well as mass choreography, mesmerising pyrotechnics and spectacular lighting and water effects”.  It is apparently going to be the most spectacular event of its type since the London Olympics opening ceremony.

The articles major on CIPS member and experienced procurement professional Rob Baillie, who is Director of Procurement at Eleven Arches, the organisation that is behind the spectacular show. He has 30 years in procurement, in public, private and third sectors, but this must be his most fascinating job yet.

His sourcing task includes everything from 1920s cars to horses and carts, costumes from the Norman era, and even a train! As the report says, “High volume products he has had to source have included 356 tonnes of fibre mix for the stage, 2500 square meters of grass seed, 2500 trees, 600 meters of sheet piling and 10,000 square meters of cladding”.

The event involves more than 1,000 volunteers as cast and crew, plus horses, sheep, pigs, cattle and even ducks. The arena is the size of five football pitches, including a large man-made lake, and Kynren is expected to attract nightly audiences of 8,000 when it launches for the first of 14 summer shows on July 2nd. Rob’s job does sound fascinating.

“Kynren is a truly unique prospect; nothing of its kind has ever been delivered here in the UK before, so in terms of sourcing and purchasing items either to feature in the show, or to support its delivery, there is no ‘how to’ guide.  One day I could be trying to get hold of cedar shingles and the next it could be trumpets and other brass instruments for a scene!  The most unusual items I’ve had to source are probably 75 Christmas trees – in April!  It really is a daily challenge but one which I’m relishing”.

There’s another interesting angle to this. Kynren is the brainchild of Jonathan Ruffer, a city banker, barrister, fund manager and multi-millionaire, who is giving his kind a good name for a change. He donated £15 million to the restoration of Auckland Castle, the historical palace of the Bishop of Durham, and his given large sums of money to various causes that motivate him – from art to his evangelical Church of England beliefs, and his love of the North-East of England.

Kynren is costing some £31 million in terms of the investment to create the arena and put on the show. Clearly, this has the potential to be an amazing evening and the start of something that could put Bishop Auckland on the international map – or it could be a total disaster. We really hope it is the former (and we might even make it to Kynren to find out ourselves!)  And you can book tickets here.

(Picture of Auckland Castle Gate-House by Pit-yacker - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2553238)

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