Students Staff

15 July 2020

Celebrating our annual staff picnic

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:01 pm

For the first time since the 1990s, there will be no staff picnic this year. Mandy Borges, from our Organisational Development team, tells us more about the history of the picnic and what we have got planned. You can also watch our video to see some highlights from previous years.

Our staff picnic has always been a popular event, and it’s a great way for people to spend time with colleagues from across the University. The first picnic took place in 1997 and was designed to celebrate all the hard work that people put in over the course of the academic year. It was originally known as the VC’s strawberry picnic because the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Professor Ivor Crewe, agreed to pay for the strawberries out of his own budget as a ‘thank you’ to staff.

The first year we held the picnic, we arranged for musicians and buskers to entertain people. This included David ‘The Balloon Man’ and some people may still remember the balloon sculptured animals they were presented with. Since then we’ve enjoyed a variety of different entertainment. In 2010 East 15 performed a 15 minute adaptation of the Riverbank Scene from the Wind in the Willows, whilst in 2013 we marked our 50th anniversary with an ice cream van giving away free ice-cream.

The picnic has always been held at the beginning of July, originally by the lake nearest the library, although in recent years it’s moved to the lake near Wivenhoe House. The weather hasn’t always been kind and when rain has meant the picnic can’t be held outside, we’ve used various locations to make sure it goes ahead, including inside – with people sitting on their picnic blankets on the floor – and under umbrellas on the squares.

The picnic couldn’t go ahead without the help of people from across the University. Organisational Development co-ordinate the whole thing and Estates and Campus Services have always helped to make sure it goes ahead without a hitch. Over the years they’ve helped by providing a generator for the musicians, and transporting the strawberries to the venue, as well as making sure everything is set up on the day. Our Catering Section are responsible for ordering the all-important strawberries and, more recently, staff from the Sports Centre have been very creative with arranging sports activities for everyone to enjoy.

This year, we’re going to be celebrating the staff picnic virtually on Thursday 23 July, and we’d love you to join us by enjoying your own picnic wherever you can. To help us document the event, please email us your photos to, along with your favourite strawberry based recipe, craft or drink, so we can share this very different picnic with our whole community.

We’re really sad that the picnic won’t be going ahead as usual this year, but hopefully we’ll all be back on campus again in 2021 for the next one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.