I feel it is very fitting that my first blog post should be about the amazing experience I had attending my first Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Annual Conference.
I’ve been with the charity for almost eight months now. During this time I’ve learnt a lot about blood cancers, research and the fundraising efforts that have helped more and more blood cancer patients survive their disease. Attending the LLR Annual Conference was the piece of the puzzle that brought the all of this together. For me that missing piece, the glue that brings patients, fundraising and research together was meeting our supporters.
I am always a bit nervous about going to a new event, conference was no exception. As soon I sat down to dinner on the Friday night with some of our Branch members my nerves were replaced with feelings of respect and admiration. Some of the people sat around the table were double my age; listening to my companions talk about their fundraising efforts and passion for our charity made me feel like they were half my age! It was very hard to believe that some of my fellow diners were self confessed octogenarians. The individual and team spirit of our supporters is touching in itself – when one hears the stories behind that spirit, it is quite simply a moving experience. I felt very privileged to be a part of the evening and to share in the fellowship of the table.
Having spoken to my colleagues after the event it seems that I’m not alone in my feelings when it comes to the poignancy of these dinners and the stories shared. Don’t get me wrong, whilst there were some very touching moments there were equal amounts of laughter and joking too! Again, it is the spirit of our supporters that is the true testament to the longevity of LLR and clearly the one of the foundations for our ongoing success. I’d like to say a huge thanks to the people on my table Cynthia, Kaylet, John, Marion, Mike, Reg, Ann and David – you all made me feel welcome and it was a real pleasure spending time with you.
It’s difficult to remain objective writing a blog about an event that my employer hosted. Trying to keep that balance between what I see as the Head of the Customer Service Team versus what I feel as supporter of the charity. In my day to day role I analyse the interactions we have with our supporters – are we communicating effectively, answering queries in a timely manner, processing contributions as quickly as possible… attending the conference as a staff member, first time attendee and ultimately a supporter gave me the opportunity to scrutinise our efforts from a number of perspectives. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was an amazing event. There was something for everyone – from exhibits on our Trials Acceleration Program to Tea & Tweets, the LLR team put together an exceptional day that was interactive and highly compelling.
For those of you that haven’t attended an LLR conference but would like to I strongly urge you to sign up for 2013 as soon as you can. From Cathy and Richard’s opening speeches to the presentations from patients, researchers and fundraisers, the whole day gave me such a sense of pride and purpose. The energy of the day was truly inspirational.