Make Events | Event Management Company Manchester | virgin logo

Virgin Trains on the east coast operates 45 trains on the main line between London and Edinburgh. With 3,417 employees covering 14.3 million miles per year, the company has a large and diverse workforce.


This is the third year that Virgin East Coast Trains have appointed Make Events to produce and deliver their Red Hot Awards. The aim of the night is to reward outstanding performance within the delivery team, meaning everyone from train drivers to receptionists.

It was important that the venue was situated on the east coast main line and was close to accommodation and a train station. The Boiler Shop in Newcastle was chosen as it is a unique, new venue that is right next to the train station where the Virgin train comes into. It was also where boilers used to be made for the trains,  giving it a link to the train industry.

Make Events needed to ensure the event wowed guests for the third year running and also ensured that short listers were treated as VIPs.


We organised an early drinks reception for all 80 short listers. As they stepped onto the red carpet, a red VW camper van bar was waiting for them with a glass of champagne. They were then whisked off to a VIP area before the rest of the guests arrived.

Make Events were asked to come up with a theme for the awards. We researched a live activation that Virgin had previously done to launch the new Virgin Azuma train; where they sent 4 historical trains down the train tracks.

To follow on from this, Make Events suggested a projection mapping piece to be projected onto the mezzanine windows within the boiler shop. The structure mimicked train windows and provided the perfect backdrop.

We designed a piece showing the history of the trains from the Flying Scotsman right through to the future which will be the launch of the Virgin Azuma in 2018. It was an extremely immersive experience that many of the guests hadn’t seen before. We did this to get truly under the skin of their brand.

The industrial theme continued with brass reclaimed lamps as table centres. The chairs were also an industrial chic design.

Food was massively important, so Make Events selected a bespoke caterer to design a hearty meal which was important to the demographic. The menu included crispy duck egg, goats cheese and truffle soldiers to start, then glazed British white beef cheek, 60/40 mash potato with white pudding and bacon as the main.

Dessert was tonka bean brownie with white chocolate ice cream.

As the projection piece ended, bringing Virgin Trains East Coast up to the modern day, the wall was also used to display the awards content. This gave a huge space to project all the winners names.

It is important to Virgin that they host a fabulous party. Following the awards, we created a “Red Hot” area which included glitter stations, Hollywood make up artists and photo booth.

As a late night snack, a liquid nitrogen parlour whisked fresh ice creams and added a further nod to the industrial theme.


Make Events elevated the evening from an awards ceremony with entertainment to an event that got truly under the skin of what Virgin East Coast are about. Set in a historical venue, we managed to tell the brands story.

“As ever you created a fabulous event, made sure it all ran smoothly and everyone was wowed by it. I know that not only would I not want to do this event without you, but it would be a much lesser event if you guys weren’t involved!”

– Virgin East Coast Trains