When delegates arrive for a residential conference at Robinson, they are given the key to their comfortable en-suite bedroom, carefully prepared with close attention to detail, by the College’s housekeeping team. Angela Coyle, Head Housekeeper takes us behind the scenes to explain how they achieve a smooth changeover from looking after students to preparing for conference guests.

I have been Head Housekeeper since April 2000, having worked in various roles within the department since March 1984 and manage a team of around 35 staff. Our principal aim is to keep the College clean and tidy for our students, fellows and guests.

In term-time, our major focus is on the students who we get to know well. Our rooms are arranged in sections we call staircases. The bed-making staff clean around four rooms a day and change the beds, covering their complete staircase over the course of the week and cleaning the student kitchens each day.

In conference time we operate a different system. The student bedrooms are used by guests and the bed-makers are issued with instructions every day. They may have a full staircase to clean as departure or stay-on rooms and we often work seven days a week during the conference season.

Changeover weekends between term and conference period are definitely the biggest challenge. We have to clear huge amounts of rubbish, collect belongings students have left behind and transform the bedrooms to prepare them for guests to arrive. Time is often tight but the team works extremely hard and often achieves miracles.

Students are expected to vacate by 10am on the Saturday morning after which we come in and evict any remaining! The rooms are then cleaned and set up with all the conference items such as sets of towels, toiletry bags, beverage trays, bottled water, radio alarm clocks and information booklets. We also put throws on the beds to make them more welcoming.

Our team tries to deliver a service we can be proud of and we are happy to meet any special requirements.

Whilst this is going on, we have to prepare our hostel rooms for any students who remain in college over the vacation for out of term courses or tuition. Sometimes we have visitors in these rooms too.

The main pressure of the job comes from juggling bedrooms and meeting rooms.