Last Thursday and Friday at London's Olympia Conference Centre saw the fruition of months of hard work, sourcing and tracking down speakers in our efforts to put together a seminar programme to usefully reflect the key learning needs of our community health professional readership. With unseasonably warm weather forecast, the scene was set for a memorable JFHC Live.
My colleague Rachel Langdon acted as a wise steer, ensuring all the speakers I'd sourced sent in their biographies and CPD-accredited presentations in time, and keeping calm when things, inevitably, went slightly awry. One speaker had to drop out just a few days in advance and my smugness at finding a worthy replacement was short lived when a stomach bug meant that they, too, had to cancel!
Overall, I think we succeeded in our brief - the final speaker programme was full and diverse with six sessions running across both days and covering a wide range of topics. There was a full programme of school nursing-related talks, alongside a fair few on maternity matters and nursing in the home. Other talks on nutrition ran alongside ones on domestic violence, eating disorders, a disability project, eczema and allergies, teenage pregnancies, constipation and obesity.
The exhibitors seemed delighted with the quality of delegates attending the event, with one kindly taking the time to write a glowing testimonial saying that many had told her that: "the programme was very relevant to everyday practice and of a very high standard".
So was all the hard prep worth it? I think Rachel and I would both say yes. We enjoyed putting the programme together and one of the undoubted "highlights" was the appreciation shown by many of the speakers who were grateful for being given the platform to present their work and share both ideas and achievements with their peers. This was especially relevant to the Queen's Nursing contingent, who generally speaking don't get many public opportunities to shine, being more used to quietly doing their work behind the scenes.
One of them, Janine McKnight, provided a particularly memorable conference moment - she left her baby doll prop to cry outside the seminar room where she was due to give her talk entitled "Stop that shake, babies break". Janine had primed the room's technician to shake the doll at a specified moment - and there was a stunned silence in the room as lights on the baby's head suddenly shone, graphically highlighting damage to the baby's brain. Janine takes her doll around to many schools in her local area and everyone attending her talk could not fail to be moved by both her passion and determination to prevent further tragic deaths from Shaken Baby Syndrome.
We were also particularly proud of the contributions made by some of our board members. Alison Wall, Barbara Evans, Professor Euan Ross, Barbara Richardson Todd and Dr Paul all offered their support from the off, both with their presentations and willingness to chair talks. Indeed Professor Ross's name cropped up many times as a conference highlight. Not only was his talk on epilepsy well received, his way of introducing other talks with insightful and delightful anecdotes drawn from a lifetime's work in paediatrics thoroughly charmed the room (including the room's efficient technicican!).
Barbara Richardson Todd co-hosted a busy school nurse programme alongside Sharon White - a winning duo whose professionalism and dedication to school nursing is much admired, particularly amongst the younger generation.
Tam Fry was someone we'd never met before, but he proved to be something of a conference "star" not only for his talk on the obesity crisis but for his willingness to step in to chair - and even conduct another talk if we had a speaker drop out at the last minute.
As JFHC's editor, I was also delighted by the fact the majority of delegates attending seemed to be engaged and happy with the talks. Those who stayed to hear talks on a sunny Friday afternoon were rewarded with brilliant presentations by Dr Alex Richardson on the dangers of sugar and by Dr Gill Harris on fussy eating. I'm also grateful to the organisers and my editorial colleagues who helped by filming, interviewing, blogging, chairing and generally being supportive. You know who you all are.
So, thanks to you all and as for next year, watch this space. JFHC Live may not necessarily be bigger, but your feedback will definitely make it even better.
Written by Penny Hosie on 2.4.12 Please let us know what you thought of JFHC Live by sending your feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org