Sue Watson’s recipe for success in safety training


sag-training-course003Training was also delivered to growing small business concerns, and a mentoring service provided for the owners and managers of these smaller companies. The programmes run by Sue’s company were funded by Central Government, through the Enterprise Allowance Scheme and various other programmes. Sue had correctly identified, before it happened that Government would withdraw this funding. When funds were withdrawn in 1997 she was well prepared and the company had already diversified into the growing Sports Industry. The company was renamed Watson Associates the same year.

Sue, who lives in the Leeds area, started working with Leeds United Football Club in 1992 looking at the training requirements for the administration department of the Club, along with team building and management training needs.

Her work with Leeds continued for many years and she wrote a training programme for its stewards in 1993, which linked in to the new National Vocational Qualification in Spectator Control. The following year a pilot scheme for the qualification was run at Leeds, Bradford, Cambridge and Scunthorpe football clubs. On completion 100 stewards from the clubs achieved success in the NVQ. This was an excellent start to a new scheme.

By 1995 Sue’s reputation for providing excellent training for football club stewards was beginning to pay dividends. She was approached by the Wembley Stadium to write and deliver a training package for stewards who would be working during “Euro 96”. Over a period of eight months she trained 967 stewards at Wembley for this major football event. Sue spent the next two years assessing the stewards against the training they had been given, while she continued working at Leeds United.

1997 saw the start of a five year commitment to working on a part time basis in Northern Ireland. The Chairman of the Parades Commission had approached Watson Associates to look at the skills of parade marshals who had control of these events. They were interested to know if the training given by Sue could be transferred to their requirements. Sue set about this huge task in her usual professional manner. A pilot was trialled with The Apprentice Boys of Derry. Work then started with the Orange Order to deliver training and assessment. Sue also trained the trainers of The Apprentice Boys of Derry and The Orange Order. A full package of training was developed for the Parades Commission to issue to other organisations in Northern Ireland, resulting in parades in places like Londonderry to evolve from conflict situations to trouble free and peaceful environments.

Leeds United Football Club appointed Sue as their Deputy Safety Officer in 1998. During the next four years the Club was involved in numerous European Games and this dynamic lady was involved in dealing with corporate guests, assisting the journalists and trouble shooting on match days. During this busy time with Leeds she also attended and participated in UEFA briefings. Sue also prepared reports for Leeds on the many issues arising from taking a large football club around Europe. Alongside all this work, Sue continued to deliver NVQ level 2,3,4 assessments and training to stewards across the country, she also wrote and delivered a three day awareness programme for safety officers.

img_1601By 2002 the “Watson Brand “ was on the march.  Sue was approached by a Portuguese Security Company to train safety officers and stewards for the Euro 2004 Championships. This meant translating all the course notes into Portuguese, and the course was initially delivered to safety officers and Police. A great deal of hard work was put in by Sue to complete this mammoth task of training everybody in time for the Championships. It was successful and over the two years of her involvement 500 stewards were trained and assessed.

The Football Safety Officers Association approached Sue to write and accredit a training programme for all safety officers. The initial course took place in October 2002, with 15 guinea pig safety officers being involved from around all the football leagues in the country. So far over 500 people have attended the course, which has received accreditation from the University of Portsmouth.

Sue, who is also Chair of the North Eastern Branch of Football Safety Officers Association, has now expanded her company into training stewards for Cricket, both the Rugby formats and she has also been involved as safety officer for numerous concerts and events. Her involvement with cricket includes an appointment as Event Controller at The Oval in London in 2007 for two seasons.

Her work has also involved developing and delivering desktop exercises for both the Cricket World Cup 2007 and for England Rugby Union Authorities at Twickenham. Sue has been working as a Crowd Safety Consultant for the England and Wales Cricket Board since 2003, culminating in being Safety Officer for the Ashes Celebration at Trafalgar Square on 2005.  Over the last two years her involvement with cricket has also meant conducting safety audits of category C cricket grounds involved in Twenty20 matches, as of course this has been very successful from a numbers view, and some recommendations for changes had to be made by her.

Following on from her work in London, she was retained by Transport for London for Tour of Britain, to give advice and guidance to the team of managers involved in this prestigious event.

As I have already mentioned Sue is also involved in the Football Safety Officers Association and they have now expanded their influence into the Scottish Premier and Football Leagues, working with their Safety Officers and also the Football Association of Ireland.

The Northern Safety of Sports Ground Group and Core Cities Group asked her and her team to once again use her enormous experience, knowledge and skills to write and deliver a three-day training programme for Members of Safety Advisory Groups around England. As we know the safety groups are a vital cog in the wheel of any large sporting or other event, as without them issuing safety certificates many thousands of people would be able to attend these days.

It is not untrue to say that without the work done by Sue and her company many thousands of football fans around the country would not be able to go and watch their favourite team on a Saturday afternoon in the safe environment we now have in most of our sporting venues.

In conclusion I would like to say that Sue Watson is a highly capable, energetic and enthusiastic lady. Her efforts over the years have helped to improve the atmosphere and safety levels at all of our sports arenas and similar venues around the country and further a field. Congratulations Sue Watson.

Author Peter Harris.

Sue Watson Associates

Tel: 0113 289 3414


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