Find out more about the team behind the Allergy & Free From Show
The hotly anticipated Allergy & Free From Show returns to ExCel London, 1-3 July so we caught up with the F2F team who run the event to hear more about it.
Coeliac UK has been involved with The Allergy & Free From Shows, delivered by F2F Events, for 12 years. It’s a longstanding and valued partnership for Coeliac UK and here, Annette our Director of Membership, Services & Volunteering shares an interview with two of the F2F team, Ben and Tom, to give our community a little more insight behind the scenes.
Read the interview below for insights into their world and the behind the scenes details that go into planning an event like this.
Who is F2F and what do you do?
Ben- I think that’s a great question as so many people think we’re The Allergy & Free From Show and whilst that’s our biggest and most loved event, it’s actually one of many we organise.
Tom- We’re award-winning organisers of trade and consumer events, both here in the UK and overseas. We’re a small, but (we like to think) perfectly-formed team of 10, who love running shows that connect people in meaningful ways. F2F means face-to-face and we passionately believe in the power of live experiences; The Allergy & Free From Show, is the most perfect example of just how important and valuable this can be!
What’s the best thing about working with the Free From community?
Ben- Where to begin… I changed to a gluten free diet a couple of years before working with The Allergy & Free From Show. However, it wasn’t until I was interacting with the community on a daily basis that I started to understand my health better - you couldn’t find a community more willing to go out of their way to help each other. So on a personal note, it’s changed my life and my relationship with food.
Professionally I’d say the two words that come to mind are loyal and reliable. We’ve had some dark times in the last two years whilst not be able to run our events but when we returned it was like we’d never been gone. The community was ready to come along and support us as they always have and in fact, registrations for our Excel London event on 1-3 July have hit record levels. I want to thank everyone for showing us just how loved the event is. On top of that, the band of bloggers, experts and friends that gave up their time to help me create articles, chat shows and podcasts were vital to maintaining a connection with the community when we couldn’t meet in person.
Tom- There are so many great things!
As event organisers, we want to create experiences that actually matter, serve an important purpose and make a real difference to the communities they represent. The Free From community offers us that opportunity. There’s a huge visitor-base seeking solutions that will enable them to stay safe and live happy lives. There’s an exhibitor-base and talent-base busy developing those solutions and need live events to showcase their latest products, innovations and advice. We just bring everyone together!
Our shows have connected the Free From community since 2010. We will never ever tire of the incredible feeling we get when we open the show doors and observe thousands of people discovering things that will make a huge positive difference to their lives.
The Free From sector has changed so much over the years. Have the shows changed too?
Tom- Yes, so much! This is fundamental – they have to change all the time, or they’ll cease to be helpful. The Free From sector is constantly moving and the shows have to move with it. This extends to every aspect of the event experience; the exhibiting brands and products, the content in every theatre, the partners and influencers we work with (and how we work them). I’ve been the Event Director of every single edition since we launched, and I can personally vouch for the fact that the 2022 London show will be a very different experience to that first London edition back in 2010.
However, our objectives in 2022 are the same as they were in 2010; to create the world’s largest, most helpful event for the Free From community.
Ben- I still feel like a bit of a newcomer, even though I’ve been here for two and a half years, so Tom is better placed to answer this question from a show perspective. I know as a consumer, you can’t help but notice that every year that goes by, choice becomes larger and Free From products improve in quality. What does that mean for The Allergy & Free From Show? Even more new brands for you to discover, even more products for you to try and a healthy future offering more and more each year from artisan start-ups to the big hitters.
What’s it like working with one another?
Ben- Well, for the movie fans out there, Tom is to events what Daniel Planview is to oil – he’s an events man. You can throw him into any situation and he’ll know what to do. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry and his work ethic and attention to detail is quite frankly frightening.
Everything you see associated with The Allergy & Free From Show will have Tom’s finger prints on it and its success owes more to him than anyone – plus he’s a good laugh and a good friend.
Tom- Love working with Ben. We’re a small team that do a lot, often under high pressure. It’s essential to have people here with the confidence, ambition and talent to truly ‘own’ their role and be 100% accountable for its contribution and progression. Ben embodies these attributes. Since joining in November 2019, he has enthusiastically assumed full control of all show marketing and content. He’s done a phenomenal job, both in terms of honing and furthering traditional techniques, but also by creating and launching a very long list of brand new (now Free From Food Award-winning) initiatives that engage us (and the shows) with the Free From community, all year long. Over and above this, he’s a brilliant person that makes our office a more fun and happy place on a daily basis.
What’s it like working with Coeliac UK? Be honest!
Tom- When we launched in 2010, Coeliac UK was part of a very small list of organisations that we knew we had to work with to give the shows a chance of realising their full potential. It was incredible to quickly establish such a positive mutually-beneficial working relationship with the charity back then, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to maintain and progress that relationship every year since.
Coeliac UK is a team of passionate, committed and talented people. They have been a rock of invaluable help and support for people living with coeliac disease for so long. We have always recognised the value of working with Coeliac UK for the shows, and Coeliac UK have always understood the value of the shows and the opportunities they present the charity’s own objectives. We never take each other for granted. This makes for a perfect partnership, which evolves all of the time.
Ben- One of the best parts of my job is leading partnerships with organisations like Coeliac UK. The relationship was long standing before I came on board and will remain so, long after I’m gone, but for my part, I feel we’ve worked hard to make sure we contribute something significant to one another.
There is potential for us to collaborate even more as the things that matter to the gluten free community also matter to Coeliac UK and F2F. It’s my goal over the next year is to get more involved personally and make sure I show Coeliac UK the same support they do when attending all of our shows.!
What are you looking forward to most about the first London show?
Tom- That one’s simple… literally being able to run it again!
It’s been absolutely crushing for our team to not to be able to run this event for three years due to the pandemic. It’s actually tough to articulate just how hard it has been. We know how much our visitors, exhibitors and partners love this show and how important it is for the Free From community, and we take the responsibility of making it happen each year extremely seriously. This is our professional purpose; it’s what we do and, for three years, we’ve not been allowed to do it! Given these circumstances, I don’t remember ever being involved in an event that has been so hotly anticipated by our team and the community at large!
This will be also our first edition at ExCeL London. We’re excited to make this important move to this world-class venue and believe it provides the London show with the best possible platform now and in the future.
Ben- Well I’ve not run a London show yet and what I keep hearing over and over again is that it’s huge! I’m so excited to get on site and just take in the sheer scale of our biggest and longest running edition.
More than anything though, getting in the room with your community is what we live for all year round. I talk to people constantly digitally, but there’s nothing like meeting up and celebrating together and this is the ultimate opportunity to do that.
Give your best pitch as to why someone should come along to the show.
There are so many reasons to come to The Allergy & Free From Show London on 1-3 July.
If you or someone you care about lives free from, this will be your biggest weekend of the year. Try new things, meet new people, celebrate living free from with us at the biggest event of its type in Europe.
At no other point in 2022 will you find more gluten free products in one amazing place at one time. An incredible day out; this is a fun family show, which will educate and entertain in equal measure! Smile your way around the aisles; taste amazing gluten free delights, meet the brilliant people behind them, take-in talks from inspiring trailblazers like Becky Excell, learn the latest advice on living with coeliac disease… and meet the Coeliac UK team, obviously!
Coeliac UK will be at Stand A112, so please do come over and say hi! We can't wait to see you there!
Tom and Ben - Biographies
Tom Treverton is an experienced events Portfolio Director. His events career began in 2004 via marketing roles at the AEO and EIA, before going on to become Director of the AEV. In 2010, he joined F2F Events Ltd as UK Portfolio Director. For 12 years, he has managed F2F’s UK shows, launching and overseeing the growth of The Allergy & Free From Show portfolio, which now runs in three locations; London, Glasgow and Birmingham. Additional events managed include Just V Show, Love Natural Love You, The Eat Smart Show, the Back Pain Show and APEA Live. Tom also sits on the AEO's Development Board and its Events Working Group. He is also an active judge for the AEO Excellence Awards, Free From Food Awards and Quality Food Awards.
Ben Corbett is Head of Marketing & Digital at F2F Events. You may know him as the host of The Allergy & Free From Chat or the new hit podcast Ultimate Free From Chat
Before he found his way into event marketing, Ben was a teacher of Film and Media Studies at secondary school, heading up those departments for seven years and was previously a freelance writer and a videographer. He left teaching to do a Masters Degree, specialising in Politics in Chinese Cinema.