A few weeks ago saw me jumping on a jet plane at a ridiculously early time of the morning and heading off to Glasgow for the first ever Allergy Show to be held there!
London and Liverpool have had successful, packed out shows, and for 2 days in March it was the turn of Glasgow.
In the run up to the show, I’d been in touch with some of the businesses who would be there, and it promised to be quite an event.
The night before, as I was preparing my bag and making sure I’d printed off my flight tickets and ticket for the show, I encountered a first. I couldn’t print my ticket off for the show. There had been so much pre-show interest, they had been forced to close the pre-sale of tickets for health and safety reasons.
Now let me put this in perspective….. this has NEVER happened in the history of the show!
In the beginning…
So, at 3.30am (big ouch!) on Saturday 19th March, I left my house, and drove almost 2hrs to Stansted, ready for my early morning flight to Glasgow. Callum was desperate to come with me, but he couldn’t have coped with what was to be a very long day! I must confess, it was very strange not to have my trusty sidekick with me though.
As I was on my own, once checked in, I stopped off for a cheeky English breakfast and a coffee for a caffeine boost, before calling home to check all was well. I needn’t have worried. They were all camped out watching the F1 qualifying and shouting for Daddy’s team (Mercedes) to do well!
Soon after, it was time to board, and after a relatively quick flight (just over 1hr) it was touch down in Glasgow. A short bus trip and underground train later, I made it to the SECC where the Allergy Show was being held.
Outside a large crowd was forming, another good sign for the event.
There was a buzz in the air, as Little Mix was due to perform later on in the day – more of that later!
First stop was a catch up with Helen and her team, who organise the show, and make sure everything runs smoothly.
From the moment I arrived, it was apparent that this show was a busy one. People were being stopped at the door, as the hall had reached maximum capacity, and it was a one in, one out situation.
I’d just put my coat and bag down when a little boy and his mum came running up to the event stand in a panic as the little boy had been given something to try by his mum. He was having an instant reaction to it, with what appeared to be an instant IgE response. The mum was understandably upset, but Helen and her team were totally calm, and dealt with the situation extremely well. The paramedics on standby were there instantly, and they were taken off to hospital as a precaution.
It’s a very good reminder to us all that even though it is an Allergy Show, the same rules we all live by still apply! Check, check and check again all ingredients before you try something. I can never trust that something will be safe for Callum, no matter where we are, and it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Thankfully the little boy was absolutely fine and recovered well.
So, going back to the show….
Exhibitors were firing question after question, problems, queries and more at Helen and her team all the day, and throughout it all, every single thing was dealt with in a calm, quick, efficient manner. What was most impressive, everyone was treated as if they were just as important as the other. Everyone got Helen or her teams’ full attention, and every situation was given a solution, nothing was too much trouble. It was impressive to watch!
Helen has confirmed that in total there were more than 7,000 attendees to the show over the 2 days it was running, which is a huge achievement. As a result, a larger hall has been booked already for next year, for an even bigger and even better (if that’s possible) show!
The most important part of the show is of course to see the exhibitors and their wares. This show didn’t disappoint! I stopped off to see some of our friends, and also discovered some new products which need to get a massive shout out:
Allergy Adventures – Hailey brought the magic of her work to Glasgow, including her infamous quiz for children to complete! There was also storytelling and lots of art work! The lovely Laurna from My Allergy Boy, and Julie from Alimentary Bites were giving a helping hand. What a fantastic team they were too! The stand never had a quiet moment, and was easily one of the most popular of the show! If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing Hailey’s amazing work, go check out her wonderful website, you won’t be disappointed!
Bute Island Foods – the lovely team were handing out tasters of their fabulous vegan sheese and they were flying off the shelves. We’re big fans, and Callum adores their original cream sheese, garlic cream sheese and also the soya smoked sheese! I really can’t recommend their products enough, so make sure you go check them out at the next show! I’ve used their sheese in my cheesecake recipe, and also my risotto recipe, and a few others too.
Foods Matter/ Free From Awards – The lovely Cressida and her team were on hand to answer questions about the free from awards (the 2016 awards ceremony is next week!!) and Cressida also presented a wonderful talk on cows’ milk allergy and why it is becoming more prominent.
Delicious Alchemy – Quite simply, gluten free delights for all to enjoy! Their baking mixes were flying off the shelves, particularly as they had some delicious treats for everyone to sample. We were lucky enough to have a selection box of their goodies sent to us just before the show. We’ve come up with a few new recipes using the goodies they sent, and we will be revealing all very soon so watch this space!
Food Maestro – Have you heard of this wonderful app yet? If not, go and check it out, it will be a game changer for you! The concept is simple, it’s an app that helps you to search for suitable food products in the UK, and there’s over 80,000 products on their database with more being added all the time. You can create personalised shopping lists for more than one person, with over 200 ingredient filters, and you can scan and search food products to check if they’re suitable. It’s such a clever concept, go and take a peak and see for yourself!
Haydn’s Wish – We can’t go to an Allergy Show without seeing our lovely friend Emma and her fabulous team! This amazing charity is very close to our hearts and we’re big supporters of theirs. Emma and I have a few things we’d love to see happen this year, so watch this space as we try to work our magic! In the meantime, go take a peek at their website to see what they’ve been up to!
Tesco Free-From – This was one of the busiest stands of the weekend, and it wasn’t hard to see why! Nicki, Russell and the team launched the new look ‘Free-from’ range at the show, and showcased some of the new products available to buy. This included the quite simply a-m-a-z-i-n-g garlic bread - I couldn't even get a proper photo of it as it was in such high demand it was disappearing quicker than they could cook it! We were introduced to Carl-the-caterpillar cake, gluten-free scampi and their new cornetto ice creams and ice lollies! What’s more impressive, some of these are even Callum safe – a truly impressive achievement! They also hosted a wonderful after show party for all of the exhibitors, which I’ll explain more of in a minute.
Freedom Confectionary – We had the pleasure of meeting Elvin, the driving force behind a wonderful marshmallow and sweets company. I am always on the lookout for safe treats for Callum, and as marshmallows are his all-time favourites, it made sense for me to see whether these would be any good. Elvin talked me through their production methods at length, and provided me with such insightful information I was 100% sure that the marshmallows they were selling would be safe for Callum. Elvin very kindly gave me a sample bag to take back for Callum to try. We tentatively sampled them to see if there would be a reaction, and when it became certain that he was fine with them, I let him loose on a bag. Suffice to say, Callum was in utter heaven! They are now on our recommended list, and I urge you all to take a look on their website and grab a bag or 3 for yourselves!
Rana’s Bakery – Rana has created a truly impressive selection of mixes for consumers to recreate her simply superb loaves. You would never be able to tell that they are gluten free, and they taste incredible! They’ve been shortlisted in the Free From Awards more than once, and it’s not hard to see why when you taste her breads. If you’ve not had the pleasure, this is definitely another product to watch, or better still, to try, you won’t be disappointed!
The After-Show Party…
The lovely team at Tesco hosted an after show party so that everyone could relax after a busy first day and get to know each other a bit better. They put on a real feast, and accompanying our drinks, we got to sample some the following (as well as a few more products too):
All of these are from their new free-from range, and as you can see, they’ve done a wonderful job!!
After a wonderful show, it was time to head home. It was meant to be a simple journey on the underground, then a short bus ride to arrive back at the airport. If only it had been that easy!! Remember I told you about the Little Mix concert, well, they had very generously put on a matinee performance for their young fans ahead of the big gig in the evening. I left the after show party thinking I had plenty of time before the big crowds arrived for the evening, and got it spectacularly wrong!
As I was leaving the SECC, the crowsds were pouring out of the event hall opposite. I got stuck in the mix, and ended up having to queue for 1 hour for the underground, and then trying to figure out which bus stop I needed to get to. I’d have got a taxi if I could, but there were none to be found as they were all busy with the concerts! After asking 4 different police men where I needed to go, I eventually found the right street for the bus I needed to catch. As I rounded the corner, I saw the very bus I needed pull away and start to head off down the street before stopping at a red light. Now, if I didn’t get this bus, I would miss my flight, so I did what any resourceful woman would do, and legged it down the street, praying the lights would stay red.
I banged on the window, in the middle of the street and pleaded with the bus driver to let me in. He wasn’t particularly happy with me, but when I explained I’d been caught up with the teeny boppers, he soon had sympathy and let me in.
Thankfully I made my flight just in time, and eventually made it home just after midnight!
It was an incredibly long day, but well worth it to see clients and friends do so well at the show!
Are there more shows this year?...
Yes, there are!! The next one is the one in London, being held the 8th- 10th July at Olympia and if you are looking for a great day out then this is most definitely for you! It’s a wonderful chance to talk to the experts when it comes to allergies and intolerance, and even pick up some fantastic bargains from the crème de la crème of free from products!
Now, we have a little something for you all!
Fancy some free tickets?
Yes you heard right, free tickets, simply follow this link:
We’ll be posting lots more information in the run up to the show in London, so be sure to keep checking back for details!