IMI Hydronic Installer Stock returns – 27-29 of August 2021

The IMI Hydronic Installer Stock is returning to the Big Sheep venue in Bideford, North Devon, on 27-29 August 2021.

Described as “probably the smallest, largest family-friendly Installer festival in the World” Installer Stock is designed for heating and plumbing engineers, and their families.


  • Live music on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday Evenings
  • Entrance to the BIG Sheep Theme park on the Saturday and Sunday daytime
  • A bar onsite serving award-winning beers, ciders and local spirits
  • Food including BBQ and fresh Pizzas.

 To book your tickets and for more info, head to:

Installer Stock was first launched in 2020. With COVID-19 sending everyone’s plans into meltdown, Neil Bunning – Managing Director UK & Ireland at IMI Hydronic Engineering – took it upon himself to put on a safe event that could raise morale for installers.

Neil and his team at IMI put on a COVID-safe get-together at The BIG Sheep venue in North Devon. The family-friendly weekend on 29-30 September sold over 70 tickets and was a big hit with the attendees.

Installer spoke to Neil to find how it all came about:

Q: What was the thinking behind Installer Stock?

NEIL: Genuinely – I was sitting outside in my garden having a beer, and this was about two weeks into lockdown in March 2020. I was on Twitter and I could see people’s heads dropping. I could see them missing human contact, missing seeing people, and missing meeting up with other installers.

I genuinely missed customers who are now friends, and having a beer with them, not talking work, just catching up.

So I threw it out there. I asked people that if I can get something together, would anyone be up for it, and the response was great.

Q: So did you already have a plan in mind?

NEIL: No (he laughs) and that’s the problem, but since I’d promised it, we had to go for it. It was my wife Sadie who saw on Facebook that the venue, The BIG Sheep near where I live, had done a COVID-safe mini festival.

So I contacted their marketing manager and went for coffee with the owner who was a really nice guy. He was up for it, because it’s a strange time for his business as well. He had me, a local guy, looking to do something and was well up for it. We didn’t have any bands booked, we didn’t have any accommodation booked, and we didn’t know if we would even be able to do it with changing lockdown rules. But we thought we’d give it a go, and the worst thing that would happen is we’d have to give people their money back.

Or it would go ahead and we wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, which ended up happening.

Q: #InstallerStock on Twitter looked great, what sort of things went on?

NEIL: So, there’s a local palladium that runs a lot of live music and they wanted to get involved, and we started to book bands. We got Mark Chadwick, lead singer of The Levellers, on the Sunday, and a local band which does shows in London. The beauty of it was that these guys had seen their gigs dry up, so for The BIG Sheep to put on a mini-concert, everyone wanted to make it a success.

The venue was great. The team put so much effort into keeping everything safe and secure. One-way systems, hand sanitiser, cameras, social distancing, making sure people are where they needed to be. They took all the health and safety risk out of it.

I attended with my children. I wouldn’t put any of my customers or friends at risk, but I was so sure that the venue was safe that I could take my kids and not worry about it.

We were so lucky with the weather as well. Saturday and Sunday were glorious sunshine, but obviously on Friday it hammered it down.

Q: How did it go down with the attendees?

NEIL: The feedback was great. Everyone said it was exactly what was needed. Nobody had been on any holidays, a lot of them had been cancelled, so we created a kind of installer holiday. It wasn’t about work, it was about like-minded people having a laugh.

One of the biggest wins was that couples and families got involved which was great. So the families can see how the heating and plumbing engineers have their own community, and then they felt part of the community.

They have the same pressures and challenges, and are in the same situation, so they suddenly have people to talk to who have similar experiences.

Grant Gundelfinger – Director of the Mayfly Group Ltd – shares his experience of #InstallerStock:

“The IMI weekend was organised at relatively short notice but it gave us the opportunity to let our hair down and enjoy some quality time with the friends we have made from the industry. It was quite a drive to get to, as I’m based in Leeds, but it was totally worth the effort.

“The event was promoted as family-friendly one and many folk brought their whole gang with them. Neil, Jason and Mark made sure that everyone was looked after when we congregated, albeit with the appropriate measures in place (as they were at the time).

“There are few opportunities, even pre-COVID, for us to talk shop, laugh about our experiences, learn from each other, and share ideas and opinions. So when Karen, my business partner, and I heard about it we knew it was the break we both needed and hopefully if it happens next year we will be bringing our families and relatives too, to make a proper holiday of it. Many of the partners, wives and kids made genuine friendships which made the whole weekend feel much more relaxed. It’s one of the reasons why I’d do it again but with Sam and the kids and possibly a grandparent too.

“Getting a bit of sun, sea and a pasty was fantastic, but seeing my ‘plumbing pals’ and having a beer with them really helped me and my mental health. I think that it can feel very lonely out there in the workplace
sometimes, and without events I wouldn’t have the friends and business connections that I do today. Seeing them (and getting a bit of great weather) revitalised us and that was what made the whole thing worth the effort and I would like to thank Neil, Sadie and the guys for making it happen.”

 To book your tickets and for more info, head to:

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