My first conference as a Trustee...

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I’ve been asked to write a Blog about my first experience of a Conference as a Trustee, and this is the first blog I’ve ever written; so that’s another new life skill I’ve learnt since volunteering!

The last Conference I attended was York, in 2003, before I went to live abroad. Then, I was part of the organising committee, so Chester 2018 felt very different. I felt quite emotional as I was voted in, but was also wondering, what have I done? Luckily, everyone was very kind to me when it was my turn to speak and once that was over, I was really able to relax enjoy the rest of the day.

Apart from the AGM, being a Trustee at the Conference is no different to being a normal delegate and, like everyone there, I had a great weekend in Chester. The Speakers and Wrap Around events were excellent, although maybe I enjoyed the wine tasting a little too much! All the catering was delicious and efficiently delivered by smiley staff, especially the Friday and Saturday night events.

I liked meeting and chatting to members from all over the country and putting faces to those names I had previously only seen on Facebook or in emails. I was thrilled to catch up with a friend from that York committee, and also with the person who first introduced me to NWR, but who I hadn’t seen for 30 years. Thank goodness for name badges! We’d both moved around the country several times in the interim, but had always managed to find an NWR group to join and were grateful for the friendships that resulted. I also spoke to a lady I’d never met before, who spoke about volunteering at the Olympics. When I asked her if, by any chance she’d come across a friend of mine who’d also been a volunteer, they had, coincidentally, worked together. I love the links and connexions that belonging to a national organisation like NWR brings.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be attached to a local group, but even as an Independent member like me, it’s possible to enjoy a lot of what NWR has to offer by joining in with area and national events whenever possible. The organisers go to a lot of trouble to make them fully inclusive and there’s always a friendly face ready for a chat, so no-one needs to feel alone. We’re all part of the NWR Community.

Gillian Wignall, Trustee and Independent Member

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My thoughts on another fabulous conference - Chester 2018 by Josephine Burt

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Once members attend a national conference they have such a good time that they usually go again. Chester was my 7th national conference and yet another exhilarating, informative and fun weekend. The conference theme 2018 was 'Nature versus Human Innovation' so quite a challenging topic for the organising committee. However they found three excellent speakers working in the fields of genetics, sustainable agriculture and conservation.

The first speaker was Dr Lyndsey Craven-Butterworth from the University of Newcastle on Mitacondrial Research who are pioneering IVF-based techniques which has led to what the press call 'Three parent babies'. She was enthusiastic and gave a fascinating talk to explain what Mitacondria are and that Mitacondrial DNA disease is carried through generations by women. The first baby is due later this year.

Dr Kate Pressland from the Soil Association spoke after lunch. Kate runs the Innovative Farmers programme which aims to bring scientists and farmers together in order to provide good food without the use of chemicals. This is hugely important for the ecosystems and for us.

The Sunday morning conference was a new option which attracted 84 members back to the Queens Hotel. Jennifer Tegg, Head of Marketing at Chester Zoo, gave a passionate and fascinating illustrated talk on palm oil production in Borneo and the conservation of orangutans in which Chester Zoo is is a world leader. Chester is now working towards becoming the world's first sustainable palm oil city engaging with restaurants, hotels, manufacturers etc to achieve this.

There was a wide variety of optional wrap-around events and workshops from Friday till Sunday which created a stimulating and full programme. I enjoyed the 'Horrible handwriting' and walking the Chester walls and I heard great reports of the wine- tasting, the drumming workshop, the ghost walk and Discovering the Rows walk.

I am looking forward to the Plymouth conference in 2019 already with its theme of Voyage and Discovery. It's an opportunity to learn about new topics, make friends and have fun and perhaps have a holiday in beautiful Devon. Why not join me?

Josephine Burt

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Leighton Buzzard Day Conference – The Rothschilds in the Vale of Aylesbury

As the sun rose on Saturday May 19th it promised to be the start of a perfect day for the big event, our day conference, the first that Leighton Buzzard group had ever held. It had been a long while in the planning, and although we were fully booked at an early stage there were last-minute nerves as we anticipated the arrival of our guests for the day.

There was another big event on the same day, which we thought might affect attendance, but in fact it didn’t seem to matter, and of course those who were so inclined could record it all and watch it at leisure later in the day.

Our first speaker, Susan Brooke, is a freelance art historian and guide at Waddesdon Manor. She explained how the Rothschilds built their wealth and financial expertise on the basis of being trustworthy and reliable guardians of their clients’ wealth, and as they rose through the ranks of society they were keen to impress, building magnificent houses and filling them with the most opulent treasures they could find. Contrary to other families who had amassed great wealth, they were careful not to squander it so as to pass the baton to the next generation.

The second speaker, Catherine Taylor, is head archivist at Waddesdon Manor, and gave us a fascinating history of the different Rothschild homes in our area, together with entertaining stories of some of the occupants. She also emphasised the considerable philanthropic work undertaken by the family, together with the various trusts and foundations which were set up over the years.

After a delicious and very varied bring and share lunch, attendees had the opportunity to visit Ascott House, a Rothschild home just half a mile from where our event was held in Wing Village Hall, either exploring the treasures displayed in the house or enjoying the beautiful and extensive gardens. Others opted for a walk round the village. Tea and cakes were offered on their return to the hall before setting off on the journey home.

We received some lovely comments during the day, including “Just a note to say all three of us from North Beds. Villages enjoyed Saturday very much. Interesting speakers and we were very impressed with Ascott House and the lovely gardens", and, “Thank you and your NWR colleagues for giving us all such a good day.  
It was all so well organised and you had made the venue look so inviting. Ascott House is delightful and the gardens and wonderful - mind you such good weather helped! Many thanks.” Thame NWR

We went home tired, but relieved it had all gone well and that everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. Who knows, we might even organize another event one day!

Jo Thomson

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NWR National Conference

Please note that due to technical difficulties outside our control the booking site for the Conference is not yet live.  We will be emailing all members as soon as we have a date when the site will be up and running to take your Conference bookings.

Registration for our 2018 conference will open soon and we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Chester in 2018.  In the meantime, here is another great write-up about this year's conference in Lincoln by NWR member Sandra Sellers...

 

The annual NWR Conference held this year in the historic city of Lincoln was on the theme of Wonder Woman (yes we knew the film would be doing the rounds this summer) appropriate as the film has become the biggest live action film ever directed by a woman and has been so successful it is the highest grossing film eve directed by a woman so truly an inspirational theme celebrating the success women can achieve.

On Saturday morning around 300 delegates gathered at the venue to be welcomed by Karen Crow the Lincoln Town Crier in her full regalia. She gave her Home Cry about how lucky Lincoln is to be known for Lincolnshire Sausages and then a specially written cry for the day stating that we are all Wonder Women!

Our first speaker was Sophie Wells who is a renowned Dressage rider who was born In Lincoln and grew up on her parent’s farm. She shrugs off that she has just one finger on each hand and no feeling at all in her feet. She told us that she was determined as a child to take up riding just like all her pony loving friends. She loves training her horses to learn the intricate movements required for an accomplished routine set to music. Her hard work and determination have led to success in World championships and Paralympics so that at the age of just 27 years old she has 23 medals.

Our second speaker was Mary Powell who led the team that has raised and spent £22 million on the refurbishment of Lincoln Castle. Mary took us ‘behind the scenes’ to see images of special highlights of the project and gave us an interesting insight into the challenges and how she overcame them. We were all delighted to share in her excitement that just the day before the conference Lincoln Castle had been voted the best castle in England.

After lunch we held the Annual General Meeting. It was as usual a vociferous affair. The lively minded women had their say!

For those who wanted activity there was the choice of Chasamba line dancing or African drumming. Both were in high demand so apologies if you missed out. Then for those who like to meet other members there was a choice of two discussion groups. One on what we consider makes a wonder woman and the other on the Lincoln castle project and what difficulties a good project leader can overcome. In an effort to make sure we had something for everyone we had the choice to listen to a guest speaker from the Woodland Trust. Many of us were members and enjoyed hearing more from the organisation.

It was then time for the last speaker of the day, author Sophie Hannah. I know of at least two delegates who booked to come along purely so that they could meet Sophie!! Others of us had never read any of her books. Some writers find it difficult to speak to audiences much preferring the chance to craft each sentence carefully in the quiet of their office but this does not apply to Sophie Hannah who kept the whole audience enthralled as she explained how she came to branch out from poetry to crime novels and now to writing novels for the Agatha Christie foundation. She told us of the day she had a caesarean birth for her daughter and how this led her to the theme of her book ‘Little Face’ in which a mother is convinced her husband has switched their baby for another. Like many authors she said that friends often suggest topics that she may like to write about and one such was a friend who said that the Sat Nav in her car had an address programmed into it for HOME which was not her home address. Sophie uses this premise in her book Lasting Damage where the heroine wants to find out who lives at the unknown address.

Next Year the Conference will be held in Chester and we hope many of you will decide to invest the time in coming along and making it a highlight of your year. We all enjoyed our time in Lincoln very much and were inspired by the life stories of all our guests. It was truly a Wonder-ful day!!

Sandra Sellers

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