Your starter for ten

Connect the following: 701. Strong. Goodwill. Gingerbread. Stars.

Nope, not the latest security password format recommendation, but answers to common questions I get asked. To kick off our new blog I thought I’d answer 10 of those questions – from colleagues, from friends and from you!

Fancy a cuppa as we go through some FAQs?

1. How do you take your tea (and are there any biscuits in the tin)?!

If you follow us on Twitter you might have noticed that we take this subject pretty seriously. In fact, it’s one of the most important questions in the office - we even have a colour chart to help describe preferences! (mine’s a strong, nearly black tea please!) And yep, what’s tea without a good biscuit to dunk? Currently we have gingerbread from Betty’s as I went to York the other weekend.

2. The festival’s only a few days in September – so what do you do the rest of the year?

It really is a year round job, the winter is our key thinking time to review how things went and plan ahead when the phones and emails are quieter. Keep an eye on this blog and you’ll find out more!

Flying the HODs bunting from the Liver building / © Chris Lacey

3. Can I book for the Liver Building?

Sorry, can’t answer this yet as we’re awaiting their registration. But I had to include it as no other site provokes the same level of interest we get year round for it. I’ve never been, but hopefully one day I will and can then let you know what’s so special.  Better yet, perhaps one of you would like to write a guest post on why this building means so much to so many?

4. When can I find out what’s on?

Easy one here – the directory will go up on the website from mid-July and be added to daily in the run up to the festival. People can register events until 1 August, and, fun fact, more than ¼ of entries are registered in the final week!

5. Everything’s free – so where does the money come from?

The too good to be true conversation – but it is true, all events are free to attend, it’s free to register an event, and the bunting we provide is free… how can this be?! Well, huge thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery who sponsor us, and to the National Trust who manage us. But also, this festival is run on goodwill – we’re powered by the passion of many amazing local people who put together events across England.

6. What would you recommend? Name some highlights!

Ah yes, the constant search for highlights, to illustrate the diversity of HODs. But so hard to choose! The media is always on the hunt for things new and not normally open. But some of my favourites over the years have included churches in Brighton and Reigate, an amazingly poignant event in Oswestry for Unsung Stories, and discovering the fantastic heritage in Lowestoft last year. There’s always something new to discover, if not a site, then a story about a place that you thought you knew inside out!

7. How long has it been going, and how many events were there at the start?

A quick ‘two-for-one’ history question here: There were 701 events in our first year, which was 1994.

8. How long have you been involved?

Some of the many stars who make HODs happen - THANK YOU!

11 years, my how time flies!

9. What makes you stay – why’s it so special?

Well, this could be an essay in itself! So many reasons, but really they boil down to this: about 2,100 stars. That’s the number of people across the country who register events with us each year. It’s an honour and a joy to work with these amazing people who are an ongoing inspiration.

10. Can I join in?

YES – please do! Whether to visit, volunteer, organise, or spread the word. HODs is made by people like you. So, let’s put the kettle on and have a chat about what next!