5 years of Portsmouth Freelancers Meet

June 3rd, 2015

Written by:

I just can’t believe it’s almost been 5 years since I first put plans in motion for Portsmouth Freelancers Meet. To mark the occassion (as well as having our 5th Birthday Party in July!) I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of the past 5 years and a brief history.

August 2010 – Where it all began

I had moved to Portsmouth the year before, and started my own business. There was nothing happening that I knew of in terms of networking groups and I knew no other freelancers. So I spoke of the idea with the only other freelancer I knew in Portsmouth  (Jon Everitt) and decided to set up a fortnightly meet in the Wine Vaults. The first one I believe happened on August 24th 2010 (although I can’t remember exactly).

It started out as fortnightly, but soon there were 2 distinct groups who only made it once a month, so instead I decided to make it monthly, every 2nd Tuesday! Soon we went from 3 people twice a month, to around 5-10 a month. I have no idea how people turned up or heard about it because we had no website or Twitter for months!

This however was our original logo (just for lols)


December 2010 – The first Christmas Party

Working from home by myself, I realised my office Christmas party was going to be a lonesome affair.

I decided a Christmas party for those without an office was needed, and we gained our first ever sponsorship (from the lovely Campaign Monitor). We had just over 20 people in attendance, lot’s of mulled wine and some geeky themed cupcakes!

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August 2011 – Our 1st birthday and 1st summer BBQ!

Inspired by Syd, who ran Winchester Web Scene and introduced me to the world of BBQ parties for networking, I figured it’d be a great way to spend a summers evening. To celebrate our 1st birthday we had a BBQ, some Pimms (I think – might have been a summer punch?), Alex DJ’d for us all night and we a birthday cake with every single attendees Twitter profile pic on.

We also had around 40 people in attendance (according to the original Eventbrite sign up) which is amazing considering I knew 1 person a whole year before. It was an awesome 1st birthday and set the precedent for the following years!

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December 2011 – Christmas Party

Another great turn out at the Wine Vaults with 46 people sign up – we had mulled wine, cupcakes, and Alex on the DJ decks again!

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March 2012 – PFMeet at Bonzo Studio

I had met Karl, who owned Bonzo Studio at a PFMeet in 2011. He had only just opened the shop up, which eventually turned into the co-working studio Port 57 on Albert Road (still run by Karl). Bonzo used to be a place for hot desking, creative workshops and screen printing as well as buying art equipment. We decided it’d be a great place to host a PFMeet and so for a couple of months that’s what we did! Not long after, I took up a permanent desk space in the studio and haven’t left since!

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July 2012 – The first Big Geek Quiz

For the 2nd Summer Party I put together a quiz of fonts, movie posters, hex colours, video game theme tunes and all sorts of geekiness. We also had a BBQ, free Pimms and a DJ fuelled after party!

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December 2012

The last party we had at the Wine Vaults, we had stalls selling geeky items from Kendal at Eyecandy, and Paul from Urban Gallery – both local artists / crafts people. We also had retro video games on the Wii, and the biggest Pizza’s we’ve ever seen (24″ to be exact). We also had a raffle as well for which I cannot remember what the prizes were! Another crazy Christmas party!

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March 2013 – That fateful night…

Don’t ask how, or why, but one beer fuelled PFMeet in March 2013 a few of us came up with www.petespin.co.uk to have a play around with some code. As pointless and weird as it was, it actually did inspire me and Lilian to create Portsmouth’s first Hackathon – PubHack.


July 2013 – Moved to the Brewhouse & Kitchen!

After shuffling around looking for a new venue (we had 1 meet up in the Fat Fox and 1 in the Atrium), we finally settled on the brand new Brewhouse & Kitchen which had sprung up in Guildhall Walk. Beer brewed right there in the pub and very close to the train station it was the perfect choice and we’ve been there ever since!

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August 2013 – Summer BBQ in the park

Our most popular event so far, with 65 sign ups! We mixed it up that year, and held the Summer BBQ at the Victoria Arts Lodge which is in the middle of Victoria Park in Portsmouth. We BBQ’d, had live music in the garden and free drinks all night (so many free tokens we couldn’t even give them away!). I also received a very heart warming and humbling gift hamper from friends I’d made at PFmeet which I shall never forget (thank you Dave!).

For some reason this is the only picture from the Summer BBQ that year!

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December 2013 – A beer fuelled Christmas party!

We held the Christmas party at the Brewhouse & Kitchen that year, who supplied us with an abundance of buffet food and we had quite a few beer kegs for attendees to help themselves to!

July 2014 – Return of the Big Geek Quiz!

Heading over to the White Horse in Southsea, this year we put on a BBQ, Big Geek Quiz and charity raffle to raise money for Community Fusion. In a similar vein to the previous quiz we had video game theme tunes, movie posters, web & tech history questions… the winners got £100 cash prize, and there was lot’s to be won in the raffle (including a rather dashing robe and slippers!).

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September 2014 – Apple Announcement Screening

I think this was the 2nd time we had put on the Apple announcement, but we all gathered at PFMeet to hear the news of the Apple Watch on the big screen.

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December 2014 – Kegs, Buffet and Christmas!

Our 5th Christmas party – wow, where does the time go? We had around 50 people turn up to enjoy a buffet, the famous Brewhouse beer kegs and goody bags full of stickers and notepads from our sponsors.

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March 2015 – Bomberman Night!

Thanks to Alex Booth who brought along his 10 player Bomberman set up, we had a night of blowing each other up on the Sega Saturn. Retro gaming FTW.

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The Present:

The monthly meetups are still going strong every 2nd Tuesday of the month! We tend to get around 20-30 people each month which still amazes me as I’ll always remember the time it was only 3 of us! So thank you to everyone who comes along every month, and especially to those new people who join us!

We have over 350 people on our mailing list, 600+ followers on Twitter and a couple hundred likes on Facebook. Which to me is amazing considering our little city that it’s crammed full of creativity and talent! We also have an instagram account now too (by the way!).

I’m currently planning the Summer Party for our 5th Birthday, alongside a load of PFMeeters who are all chipping in to help organise, make decisions and otherwise organise my brain! So thank you very much to Phil Bennett, Alex Stanhope, Tom Kentell, Chris Rose, Harry Walter, Dave Walsh, Andy Langworthy, Lee Prior, Karl MarchNathan Gaskin, Ed Poole and Jackson Willis! I appreciate every little bit of input and help I can get!

What’s your favourite memory?

When did you first come along to PFMeet? Got any highlights you want to share? Be great to hear them!

Written by:

Freelance front end developer, organiser of Portsmouth Freelancers Meet, Director of Starboard


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