I am with Kathy Squire at the Ebenhaezer Castle on the R24 to Magaliesberg. Kathy worked with my Dad on the mines doing events. She now runs an events and promotions agency called Step It Up. My folks have come along with me to the Castle to interview Kathy for Western Limb.
I have driven past the castle dozens of times in Rustenburg, and it had never betrayed much indication of what lay within its turrets and towers, so I did not know what to expect in the Castle.
We parked outside and went past a statue in a pond of a rearing horse and entered the entrance hall and into the Royal Hall, where Kathy and her team were a buzzing hive of event planning and logistics.
Having set the course for her team, she joined us in her corner office. I had told her a little about Western Limb on the phone, and asked if I could interview.
There was no need to ask too many questions as Kathy began with reslish to tell me all about the two topics that I wanted to cover – what she was doing with a hulking great faux-medieval castle in Rustenburg, and her safety work on the mines.
Starting Step It Up
Kathy took a voluntary retrenchment package from one of the major mining groups and decided to set up an events, promotions and marketing company with her husband. This was the obvious choice for Kathy as she lives and breathes events and loves arts and culture.
Step It Up provides a full range of events, production and promotion services including graphic design, printing and posting, photography, music production, video production, editing and animation, live music, weddings and other events, as well as mine safety events and promotional events for brands.
They started out small but have had a very good response, and turnover has grown 86% in 3 years.
The Ebenhaezer Castle
As the business grew, Kathy needed a place for he whole team, a place to host events and a base from which to expand. Kathy was looking at other venues near the castle and saw the building and noticed that there did not seem to be much life in the place. She got in contact with the owner and they started negotiations to redevelop it into an entertainment venue. The castle needed a lot of work. As Kathy says, she was a big lady to take on, but she decided to go for it. She says that she felt that something was pushing her to take this on.
One of the big challenges was raising finance for the redevelopment. The bank wanted to see a healthy business plan, and Kathy and her team delivered, and have raised the significant funds needed to complete and redevelop Ebenhaezer Castle.
Life within the Castle walls
The Castle really does justify the name, as there is very little one could not achieve within its walls. The facilities include four very large wedding suites, complete with lounges and outdoor areas, a spa (which was just getting its finishing touches), and outdoor beer tent, a cognac bar, a chapel hall for weddings.
In terms of office space they have a photography studio, a film editing and animation suite manned by three very tech-savvy looking gents, a graphic design office with large format printers with two attractive graphic designers manning the keyboards, an events office with directors chair and pictures or stars, established and rising, that have been through the castle. The staff are multicultural and for a workday they were having a pretty rocking time.
Events at the Castle
Its a busy castle, even though newly finished Kathy tells me about the recent events they have hosted at the Ebenhaezer Castle:
– a blarney festival, with a large contingent of Guinnes swiggers coming up from Johannesburg. As might be expected, it was not a subdued affair
– local Afrikaans rapper Snotkop (translation: Snot Head)
– a motor show for Renault
– a medieval festival complete with stiltwalkers, Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts
– Oom Paul Kruger School’s Matric Dance
– Fairy Princess for a Day, a charity event Step It Up put on with the Red Cross where little girls came to the castle ad were princesses for a day
And this is nothing compared to what the Queen of the Castle has up her royal sleeve:
– antique fairs
– smart weekday suit and tie evenings with Chamber music
– parties on weekends (they recently held a Halloween party)
– chilled out beer and boerewors roll vibes during the rugby and other televised sport
– loads of bookings for weddings
– facilities for company conferences and meetings and
– an exciting yearly Platinum Festival to be held in March or April, with several different stages, along the lines of the popular Artklop and Klein Karoo Kunsfees (KKK) festivals
People say there is nothing to do in Rustenburg. Looks like someone is busy changing all that.