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University of Portsmouth student's double-deck marquee is a ‘first’

07 May 2010

A young woman who dreamed of becoming a toy designer has instead found herself helping design the first double-deck marquee that can be erected in different shapes and formats for high profile events.
Lissy Fuller, 22, is a third year product design and innovation student at the University of Portsmouth. When she enrolled on her course in the Department of Mechanical and Design Engineering, she never imagined she would don a hard hat and supervise the design, product ordering and construction of a 10 metre-high structure.
Lissy’s fortunes changed when she won a year’s work placement with Dorset firm Mar-Key Group.
She said: “The double decker was mentioned at my first interview but at that time it was just an idea and no work had been done. The company director David Tabb and I designed the whole thing and to see it go up was very exciting.
“I was a little wary when I saw the placement offer for Mar-Key but I am so glad I applied and got the job. I am now thinking this experience will put me ahead of others when looking for a job.
“Also, because I have worked in that industry now my interest in event interiors has grown.”
Lissy had been trained at university to design using the software AutoCAD and the company asked her to take the lead in designing the marquee because she was the only employee with that skill. 
She said: “Every component was made from my drawings which I needed to keep an eye on to check our progress and making sure we met our deadlines.
“Ordering of all materials was down to me and working out what we needed and when was calculated from my drawings. It was a huge responsibility and I am over the moon that it all came together.”
David Tabb, company director of Mar-Key Group, said his was England’s first universal double deck marquee. He said: “I have 40 years in structures and design and I am one of only a few people that would consider taking on this type of project. I had the concept and Lissy drew it up and did the detail. Then we sat down and challenged the design which is something all designers should do but few get around to. Understandably, we made many changes to the drawings as we went along.
“It took about five months from start to finish and Lissy had to stick at it and focus. Not everyone can do that.”
The double deck marquee will go one stage higher before Lissy finishes her placement because the company is designing a triple-decker.
David said: “We will be adding a few more parts to the design to make this happen. We have a client who wanted one on a three-year contract and we have many other customers requesting them. I am currently working on a design for a client for the Olympics.
“Many important clients need volumes of space but don’t have the ground space they need so upwards is the only way to go. You will see these types of structures at Formula 1, horse racing and golf, for example. Our double decker client uses marquees for exhibitions in their car park. They had outgrown the site but by putting in the double decker they were able to stay on site and offer their clients tours of the factory as well.”
Lissy’s tutor Lynsey Plockyn said: “I am delighted Lissy has been able to use her engineering skills to help Mar-Key Group keep ahead in the market and develop new products.”

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