How sporting legends helped Roger’s business to grow
There can be very few people who have been photographed with as many sporting celebrities as Roger Day.
Rattling off a list of stars from every major sport, from Frank Bruno and Shane Warne to Sir Bobby Charlton and All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick, he casually observes he has met 'nearly every member of England's 1966 World Cup winning side' and 'most of the 2003 Rugby World Cup winners'.
The meetings and photographs are all in a day's work for the self-confessed sports fanatic who has developed a profitable one-man business hosting sportsman's dinners and other corporate hospitality events.
In the 17 years he has been running Archway Events from an office at his home near Dereham, Mr Day, 52, is proud to have seen his turnover rise 'every single year' from an initial modest £40,000 to its present level of about £500,000.
The seed of his business idea germinated in the mid 1990s when he was heavily involved at Holt Rugby Club and organising their tours, dinners and other social events.
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He also handily knew a number of Norwich footballers - 'Ian Crook was a good friend' - as well as England rugby players.
However, it was a colleague at Norwich Union where he was working in sales and marketing who prompted him to finally take the plunge into his new venture.
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Mr Day recalled: 'A cheque was being issued for the manager of Norwich Union's branch in Bristol to take some clients out to a sportsman's dinner and someone suggested, 'that's what you should be doing, Roger'.'
Leaving the security of Norwich Union behind, he started his business helped by the government's old Enterprise Allowance scheme which paid him benefit in the first year.
It was amid the national sporting fervour of 'Football's Coming Home' in 1996 that he enjoyed his first big break when - through Ian Crook's agent Eric Hall - he was able to sign up then England manager Terry Venables for his first sportsman's dinner.
He said: 'He arrived at the Norwich hotel where it was taking place two hours late but the event still went on to be a great success. It was a sell-out and people asked me afterwards, 'what else do you do'.'
Over the years, he has diversified his business to include horse racing days, golf days and London theatre breaks as well as sportsman's dinners.
While still hosting many events in Norwich he has also added new venues across East Anglia and the Midlands.
Mr Day said he enjoyed 'fantastic feedback' from all his corporate clients and put it down to the strenuous efforts he made to ensure events went off without a hitch.
He said his business had weathered the recession well as his loyal clients thankfully realised the importance of entertaining their customers even in hard times.
'Some firms cut their budgets for training and hospitality in a recession, but they are the very things you should be continuing to spend money on,' he said.
A sign of his buoyant business is that his sportsman's dinners - the next in Norwich in December will see ex-football internationals Tony Cottee and Neville Southall appearing - are often sell-outs months in advance.