Elaine Corkery Guest Blog: Conference round up 2019
- Posted on Oct 24, 2019
This year conference took place on a beautiful weekend in September, I could not attend conference last year and felt like I really missed out so was looking forward to the weekend and catching up with everyone! Conference 2019, titled ’The Gathering’ was held in De Vere Wokefield Estate in Reading the last event I was at in that hotel was my first Voice event. I had just started going back to BBS events ’as a grown up’ and was very nervous ! It struck me over the weekend this year, how much things have changed over the last 8 years or so, I went to that Voice event not really knowing anyone, I went to this conference to spend time with my ‘other family’.
On Friday night we had the traditional Friday night dinner where the chorus of ‘Hello, how are you? How has your year been?’. This year the entertainment was the battle of the eggheads, a challenge between the Wishbone Warriors and the Skeleton Crew hosted by BBC 2 Resident Egghead, Barry Simmons where the Wishbone Warriors were victorious.
On Saturday I helped out with Cool Bones, when I say helped out I really mean I got to spend time with an amazing bunch of pre-teen and teenagers, where we played games and listened to the sessions given by the professionals. We discussed sleep, different ways of exercising and why it is beneficial and in the afternoon the children recorded podcasts. The sessions were so informative and very practical help for young people (or in my case not so young people!) with OI.
Meanwhile at main conference the usual talks and sessions of the day continued, I attended Dr. Megan Riddington’s session on mental health, I found the mindful exercise very interesting as I could tell did others in the room. Dr Catherine DeVile and Dr Judith Bubbear spoke to us about sleep. I always find at conference that I learn new things and I am given the reminder I need about things I already know. I go home with a renewed sense of purpose about the things I will put in place, for example, the talk this year about sleep, I know (and feel!) that sleep and fatigue are a complication of OI and the talk reminded me of how important sleep hygiene is.
Saturday evening came and people left the last talk of the day to go get themselves dolled up for the gala dinner. I love to see the fabulous outfits people wear to the Saturday night of conference and this year was no exception. As always the hot topic amongst the ladies were the shoes!
We were treated to an amazing performance at the drinks reception by the very talented Basingstoke Gang Show and then it was off to dinner. My favourite part of conference is the opportunity to talk to others, this year I especially appreciated the chats and advice I got from other women, these conversations are invaluable and reminds me of the quote from C.S Lewis ‘Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one’. Saturday night is also when the BBS annual awards ceremony takes place, it is a special way for the society to recognise the fundraisers, ambassadors and members who have contributed to and promoted the BBS.
Sunday is a bittersweet day at conference, a disbelief that the weekend is already drawing to a close, there is always a lot of chatter about the last 48 hours with some strong cups of coffee and then fond farewells as people start to head for home.
I thought of our dear friend Áine over the weekend, when I first joined the BBS Facebook group she was the first person to reach out to me (a message about how she was very excited that I‘m Irish and have OI!), we attended conferences, Voice and other events in Ireland together over the years (including, of course, meeting at a Westlife concert) she loved going to BBS gatherings and she will be dearly missed.
Thank you to everyone involved who made the 2019 conference such a great weekend, the speakers, facilitators, BBS staff, trustees and volunteers, and I’m sure I speak for many within the OI community when I say I’m already looking forward to conference 2020!