This sensational event based on the theme of ‘Relatively Speaking’ was thoroughly enjoyed by over 300 members. It was held on the University of Sussex campus at Brighton in the Jubilee lecture hall and many members stayed in student accommodation onsite making everything accessible.
Essentially the conference was a one-day affair on Saturday 25 June, but events were arranged on the Friday and Sunday so that members coming from a distance could take advantage of the location and make a weekend of it.
Many members experienced a long and difficult journey due to the floods and railway problems. The first wraparound event was at 11am on Friday which was a tour of The Keep. This tour was also offered on Friday afternoon. The Keep is the Sussex archives including the fascinating Mass Observation collection. We were all completely absorbed by the diaries and memorabilia of women during WW2, what they ate, wore, their houses and relationships, all submitted as a record of life as they lived it. The Mass Observation archives are still collecting records today and you might have seen one member’s diary for 12 May this year on the website. Other trips included a tour of the university campus and the AMEX stadium.
Friday evening was a dinner and entertainment by the Ladies That Boogie, a ladies choir that got many of us dancing – another great opportunity to mix with members from all over the country.
This year we had a proper auditorium as our venue and the first speaker was Olivia Pinkney – the newly appointed Chief Constable of Hampshire – who spoke passionately about her job and the role of the police today. She pointed out the two roles of the police that are protecting vulnerable people and law enforcement, and her interests are the protection of women and children, including all forms of abuse, child trafficking etc. She informed us that public crime (ie burglaries) is diminishing whilst private crime (ie internet fraud and crimes committed in the home) is on the rise.
The second speaker was Peter James the crime author whose character Roy Grace is a detective based in the Brighton area. He spoke about developing the character and the plot and the essential research behind his books. He also signed books bought by our members.
After lunch we had the Mary Stott Award which went to Ann Clegg of Sheffield for walking the whole of the SW path over four years on her own. The AGM came immediately after the award ceremony and was then followed a brilliant choice of workshops: mindfulness, self-defence, the pop-up planetarium and a riveting talk about Brighton by Dr Geoffrey Mead.
After tea we were all delighted by a musical performance called The Theory of Relativity by production company Relative Motion. The cast consisted of North Americans (seven singers and a keyboardist) who are all West End performers. The performance stirred up a lot of emotions and received a standing ovation.
Finally, next year’s conference theme was revealed (Wonder Women) and will be held in Lincoln on 24 June 2017.
As you can imagine there was an abundance of exquisite food and breaks to enjoy it, which also enabled everyone to meet and chat with other members, some of whom have been attending our conferences for over 20 years!
The Sunday presented members with a great variety of events once again:
- A tour of Brighton’s Victorian sewer system
- A walk on Devil’s Dyke
- A visit to the Earthship in Stanmer Park
- A tour of the Royal Pavilion
All were amazing and informative and there were many smiling faces throughout the entire two and half days.
Be sure to read Pickering and District member Linden Quinlan’s blog post Referendum, rock & roll and relativity – NWR Conference 2016 and see the conference in pictures.