Day in the life: Victor Preston

Day in the life: Victor Preston

Brighton’s i360 is Britain’s tallest moving observation tower. Juliet Dennis spoke to Victor Preston about inflight proposals, amazing sunsets and famous passengers.

I start the day with . . .
A coffee. We work a shift system, so if I’m on earlies, I start at 9am, or a late shift starts at 1pm. It’s an eight-hour shift and I usually get here a bit early to get into my uniform, make a drink and get a briefing on the day ahead.

The first thing I do when I get to work is . . .
Collect floats for the tills before opening the doors to the public. There are at least three crew and we start welcoming customers on board – we can accommodate up to 200. Once everyone is on, we head to the bar. Some people want a drink straight away, others wait until they get to the top. The flight takes 20 to 25 minutes. There is seating all the way round but most people prefer to stand, for the views.

I became a British Airways i360 Pod crew member because . . .
I enjoy working with different people and this job gives me the chance to do so, in a unique setting. Growing up in Johannesburg, my fondest memories are of Christmas on the beach, so I was keen to work on the beach. The i360 is on Brighton beach, so this job is perfect. It is the world’s tallest moving observation tower, so I get to enjoy panoramic views of Brighton and the south coast all day. What could be better?

I’ve been in my job for . . .
I started last July, before the i360 opened. Being here from the start, even before construction was completed, means I’ve been able to watch the ambition and vision of the project become a reality. Being part of that process has been very exciting.

My daily duties involve . . .
Welcoming guests on to the i360, serving drinks from the onboard Nyetimber Sky Bar, answering any questions and making sure they have a great time. I also operate the pod and make customer service announcements. My favourite part is sharing information with visitors about the landmarks they can see. I go on about 16 flights a day but never tire of the view. The sunsets are incredible.

No two days are the same . . .
We host a lot of events in the i360 including exclusive flights, weddings, comedy gigs and musicians performing. We’ve also had a few wedding proposals. One man was afraid of heights and was mortified about going up 450 feet – but his girlfriend wanted to. He was so nervous, he was shaking. When we got to the top, he went down on one knee. When she said yes, everyone cheered.

The most famous guest we’ve had on board was . . .
Prince Philip opened the i360. We’ve also had Fat Boy Slim, Pixie Lott and Steve Coogan on board. Steve Coogan was down to earth and exactly how you’d expect. Visitors come from all over the world. We had one couple from Ukraine whose main reason for coming to the UK was to go on the i360.

The most rewarding part of my job is . . .
Seeing the wonder on people’s faces when they take a flight on the pod for the first time. Young children get especially excited. It’s so special to watch. We had a gentleman celebrating his 100th birthday. He was amazing; he stood up for the entire flight and walked all round to look at the views.

The most challenging part of my job is . . .
On really busy days, we welcome up to 175 people every half an hour and many like to enjoy a drink at the onboard bar or ask questions about the views. When you’ve got young kids running around, it can get a bit wild.

Most common thing I’m asked is . . .
“Is it possible to see France?” Unfortunately you can’t, as it’s below the horizon. But on an exceptionally clear day, you can see right out to the Isle of Wight.

Worst thing that’s happened at work was . . .
A customer collapsed in the pod. All the crew are first-aid trained, so we were able to give her the care she needed. We took the pod straight back down to the ground.

To relax I like to . . .
Play sports. I’m a big baseball fan, so I try to play wherever I can. I moved to Brighton so I could live by the sea. I love going for a walk on the beach on my lunch break.

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