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Patrick Kidd at The Business of Events conference

Leave a legacy, says Invictus Games CEO

Posted on May 6th, 2019 in Event Legacy, Event News, Experience Economy, Industry Insight

Patrick Kidd OBE, CEO for the Invictus Games for Sydney 2018, is a relative newcomer to the event industry, but his unique experience organising a multi-million-dollar, international event was the perfect way to kick off the 2019 The Business of Events conference.

Coming from a background that includes 30 years in the Australian and British armies, Patrick was the perfect choice to run an event for his wounded comrades. The key takeout of his experience? That it’s vital for an event to have an impact, whether that’s to drive change, bring people together, change attitudes and inspire people onto greater things.

In essence, your event needs to create a positive legacy.

He said, “An event is so much more than an event. It can showcase great capability, it can inspire people to do things, it can change people’s behaviours, it can change people’s attitudes.”

“I think your industry’s responsibility is to think like that. The ability to host a great event is the hallmark of a great nation and we need to think big if we’re going to do that.”

“I think you have a tremendous opportunity when you think about the types of event that you do, to get back to legacy, to get back to impact, to really make the difference in a way that we haven’t always done.”

What are the Invictus Games?

The Invictus Games was created by Prince Harry in 2014 as a way to use the power of sport to “inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.”

The 2018 event in Sydney was the fourth iteration of the Invictus Games, following similar events in London, Orlando and Toronto.

The name comes from the Latin word ‘Invictus’, which means ‘unconquered’.

Patrick said, “The fundamental idea of the games is about inspiring people to move forward with their lives through the simple idea of being physically active. When you become physically active, you connect with other people. When you’re connected with other people, all of a sudden, you are on the road to a healthy and better-balanced life.”

“I am completely convinced by what I have seen over the last four years. I have seen lives change, I’ve seen people whose lives have been saved by their engagement in these games and what these games stand for.”

How did the event benefit people? 

On the face of it, a sporting event is not necessarily a life-changing occurrence. This is especially true when you’re trying to raise funds – which is why the games needed to build a legacy. The focus of the organising wasn’t on the games themselves but on the benefits for the participants, their families and the community.

By promoting issues such as health and wellbeing, being physically active and helping to connect people socially, the Invictus Games was able to bring on huge and important partners to help with funding and marketing that gave it the push it needed. From government agencies to not-for-profits, such as Beyond Blue and R U OK?, the games were supported by incredible people.

A big part of the ethos of the event was education and that ran through all the planning stages of the event.

Patrick said, “It was about educating people about the role of the military in our society and the challenges that they face, but also educating people about the health and wellbeing aspects of life — we’re trying to shift perceptions.”

“We tried to educate people about potential. The games was never about feeling sorry for people, it was about celebrating. If you can change people’s perception to what someone can do, not what they can’t do, then all of a sudden you start to change the way in which people are thought about. It was about showcasing and focussing on ability, not disability. ”

The results of the games are a testament to how well this played out. More than 8.7m Australians watched the games, either live or on ABC. They helped raise awareness about mental health, inspired government initiatives, changed government policy and changed public perceptions about disabilities and companies that sponsored the event.

To do all this, Patrick had to focus on legacy from the beginning. He thinks that 20-30% of his time was working on this, while the rest was about keeping stakeholders happy and actually organising the event.

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