E3 Group CEO David Hill on his perfect Sussex weekend
PUBLISHED: 10:15 04 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 February 2016
Jenny Mark-Bell caught up with David Hill, CEO of E3 Group and a judge at the 2015 Celebration of Sussex Life Awards, to find out how he – and his celebrity dog, Mac – like to spend their free time
If you have ever attended a big, glitzy event in Sussex – particularly Brighton – there’s a high probability David Hill had something to do with it. Maybe he was working behind the scenes, as CEO of events company E3 Group; perhaps he was hobnobbing with fellow guests at a neighbouring table; he may even have been performing with his cabaret act, the David Hill Experience.
This is a man for whom it could be truthfully said that entertainment is the stuff of life – that’s why we invited him to judge our Entertainment Venue of the Year category at the 2015 Celebration of Sussex Life Awards. He is now fresh from working on the Snowman Spectacular Ball in aid of Chestnut Tree House and will this month apply his formidable talents to delivering the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon in aid of The Sussex Beacon.
For many people in so-called glamorous industries, parties can become just another workaday chore, but that does not seem to be the case for David. His enthusiasm in describing his Vegas-style birthday – a self-financed charity extravaganza that lit up Brighton beach with fireworks – is palpable. Now, as another milestone approaches, he’s clearly making plans for another massive event.
Now David, who lives in Hove with partner Lukasz and McKenzie (Mac), a Bernese mountain dog who is something of a local celebrity due to his size and chilled-out temperament, is thinking of finding a base outside the city. “The reason I have a little bit of an obsession with reading Sussex Life is I desperately want a place in the countryside. I think we’d like to buy somewhere to escape to at the weekends with our dog but eventually I see my life being in the countryside. I lean more towards East Sussex and I have friends in places like Framfield – although I went to Steyning a couple of weeks ago and thought that was lovely.”
When David first moved to Sussex after years in Majorca, where he was Director of Entertainment for Airtours, it was the first time he had been able to decide where to live. “I had always had friends in Brighton and I needed to be close to a major UK airport. I had also spent five years living by the sea and I think there’s a mentality that goes with living near the sea. I bought an apartment in a day.
“It was a one-bedroom flat in Hove. My first employee rented the bedroom and the living room was my bedroom, the dining room and our office.” The business, now 18 years old, is somewhat larger than it was then, with offices in Palmeira Square, Hove.
With two dog-lovers in close proximity, it isn’t long before our talk turns to David’s showstopping hound. After a life-long obsession with the breed, adopting Mac coincided poignantly with David’s loss of his father. “About two weeks before he died I had shown Dad pictures of this dog and said I’m thinking of getting one. He wasn’t a very demonstrative man and didn’t always offer an opinion but he told me ‘I have been thinking of this dog’ – it had obviously been playing on his mind – ‘and I think you should get it.’”
The day after David lost his father, he found a puppy and two days after that, they picked him up. “He was a gift from my father,” said David, “and he is a joy – 60 kilos of lapdog.”
Mac dictates much of David’s weekends – he and Lukasz share dog walks in the week but try to take one together at the weekend, “and you see his happiness heighten, because they are pack animals. He’s a big part of our social life and relaxation but he is like a celebrity and we are invisible”.
Although David enjoys cooking, dining out is their treat on weekends. “Normally we will have Saturday dinner somewhere, and often we’ll have Sunday lunch. We tend to have fads: it’s Market on Western Road at the moment. We also took the team for lunch at Wickwoods and I was super-impressed with their new restaurant.
“One of the things I loved about judging the Celebration of Sussex Life Awards was that it has opened me up to this whole new world of restaurants: I was sitting there in the judging meeting, writing them all down!”
And with that we’ll leave him to carry on working his way through the list…
• Winners of The Celebration of Sussex Life Awards 2015 - In a fabulous awards ceremony on Thursday 1 October 2015, guests gathered at the Hilton Brighton Metropole to celebrate the region’s food, drink and hospitality industry.