Each year we hold an annual AGM and conference with a number of interesting guest speakers and wrap-around events. The conference is always a highlight of the year as it provides the opportunity for NWR members from across the country to reconnect with friends as well as meet new members. Members of the public are also welcome to join us.
The 2019 Committee are delighted that the NWR Conference is coming to the West Country and as we had so many ideas and suggestions we are still in the process of deciding our final package, but we are very excited about the shape it is taking!
What we can tell you is that there will be a Conference Dinner on Friday 21st June and main Conference will be on Saturday 22nd June 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Plymouth. Superbly situated in the heart of Plymouth the Crowne Plaza has the city centre, Barbican Harbour and the famous Plymouth Hoe all just a stroll away. It is also ideally situated for Plymouth Station and more information about special Great Western Railway conference rates will follow soon. We are also planning to run a half day conference on the Sunday.
You will not be surprised to hear that the theme for a conference based in the naval, seafaring city of Plymouth is Voyages and Discovery – but voyages and discovery take many forms, so rest assured we will have a fascinating and varied mix of speakers to inform and entertain you on the day of conference.
For hundreds of years Plymouth has harnessed the spirit of adventure – welcoming new arrivals and waving adventurers off on their travels. Nigel Overton from Plymouth Arts and Heritage will take us on a journey that depicts exactly why Plymouth has been at the centre of some of history’s great voyages of discovery and exploration. We also have a very special performance that will bring to life the epic tale of the Mayflower pilgrims who left England from Plymouth to cross the Atlantic Ocean to settle in North America in 1620. It has a poignant end so bring your tissues…..you have been warned.
Mandala, Meditation and Microbes under the Microscope
We have an intriguing blend of workshops to offer delegates including a chance to create your own Mandala drawing based on the ritual symbols of Hinduism and Buddhism that represent the universe. So, come and depict your own inner spirit and I am reliably informed no artistic skills are necessary! Or maybe you would enjoy an easy meditation workshop with an experienced Life Coach or alternatively get your hands a little dirty, delving into compost microbes with the Head Gardener of Buckfast Abbey. Just to add to the dilemma of which workshop to choose there is the opportunity to sing with pirates or be taken on a journey into the past with Plymouth’s favourite local historian Chris Robinson.
Beryl and Nancy…
When it came to organising Wrap Around Events we were faced with so many options and choices that it was hard to whittle it down. We have wrap arounds based on 2 famous women of Plymouth – Nancy Astor and Beryl Cook. Find out about these diverse women by visiting the former home of the first woman MP to sit in the Commons or take part in a trail of the haunts that inspired a much-loved artist.
By the time of Conference, Plymouth will be well on its way with the 400th Anniversary countdown to 2020 and the Mayflower Museum explores the story of the voyage of the Pilgrims and their journey aboard The Mayflower to the New World. We have also arranged tours at Plymouth Gin – operating since 1793, it is the oldest working distillery in England. The building dates from 1400 and the guided tour includes tastings! But if you fancy setting off on a voyage of your own from the Mayflower Steps you will be able to enjoy a fascinating and scenic warships and harbour cruise. You will sail across the spectacular Plymouth Sound flanked by the beautiful Devon and Cornish coasts passing Plymouth Hoe, the famous Drakes Island, heading for the river Tamar where the mighty warships and nuclear submarines await. Other options will include a backstage tour of the Theatre Royal or an invitation to the oldest Ashkenazi Synagogue still in regular use in the English speaking world. Well we did promise you variety!
Staying for the Sunday Conference?
Following on from the Conference on Sunday you will have the chance to book a coach tour of dramatic Dartmoor that will include a cream tea at a charming moorland destination. Dartmoor really is the jewel on Plymouth’s doorstep - when filming Warhorse there Steven Spielberg said of Dartmoor “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor”
And so much more to enjoy…
Plymouth’s wow factor is the famous and spectacular waterfront setting of The Hoe offering beautiful scenic views and of course it’s where Sir Francis Drake allegedly casually finished his game of bowls in 1588 while the Spanish Armada approached. Smeaton’s Tower provides the centrepiece 72 feet high with amazing views of Plymouth Sound and the city from the lantern room if you fancy the climb.
The Plymouth Barbican is another picturesque waterfront location (one of the few places to escape the destruction of the Blitz) abundant with maritime history it has the largest concentration of cobbled streets in Britain and contains 100 listed buildings. This area offers a diverse range of activities and quirky independent shops, galleries and eateries. Discover some of its history at the Jacobean Merchants House, the delightful Elizabethan House and secluded Elizabethan Gardens.
Another showpiece for Plymouth, housed in a unique venue in Sutton Harbour is the National Marine Aquarium – the UK’s largest aquarium which takes you on a journey from the shores of Plymouth to the coral reefs of the tropics.
For more history and great views a visit to The Royal William Yard, an award-winning grade I listed victualling yard is highly recommended. Designed by Sir John Rennie the Royal William was originally the grandest victualling depot of the Royal Navy. It has recently seen major development to bring it into the modern era and create a wonderful visitor attraction but in its largely unaltered state it remains today one of the most magnificent industrial monuments in the country.
……why not make a holiday of your conference visit
As you can see a visit to Plymouth offers so many opportunities for an extended stay. Having made the journey West, with the mystical and breath-taking Dartmoor close by and Cornwall beckoning on the other side of the Tamar Bridge, why not plan a 2019 holiday based around Conference in the wonderful West country.
So, don’t delay! Reserve your rooms now and look out for details of when the online booking system is up and running. We look forward to seeing you all next year!
See our past conference themes.