For those reading this that know me well when I say that I left the Tower Hotel in London a little lost for words that will immediately give them an indication as to the 'impact' that the weekend had on me.
I have to be honest although I had high expectations about the event I didn't really know what to expect, I hadn't been before so it was a first for me and one of the first opportunities for me to really see first-hand what impact the research is having and meet some of the people behind the charities fantastic work. I went alone and didn't really know many people at all, I am a confident person so that didn't bother me, and I have been in contact with a lot of the staff from LLR, however I was blown away by how I felt like a part of the family within the first hour of looking around the exhibition on the Friday afternoon, and what an exhibition it was!
Massive congratulations to the team behind the exhibition. The room was made up of a series of boards which created a timeline of LLR's history. How the charity has progressed, and what impact the research has had over the decades. There was even an old computer showing the progression of the website - I thought that was ace!! What was really exciting is that our branch appeared on the fundraising stories for the 2000's decade - I was incredibly proud and humble to see that!
So after looking at the exhibition and chatting to people (it was great to be able to put a face to the names of the people at head office that have done so much to support our work) and been introduced to some inspirational people it was time for the meal, and when I saw the table plan I was a little excited - I had been put on the same table as Geoff Thomas! I actually said to Yvonne Dickson who I was sat next to 'wait til I tell my Dad I've been sat at with Geoff Thomas all night!' at which point we had to proceed in getting a photo to rub it in his face!
On the Saturday there was a group of fantastic speakers ranging from Chris Bunce the Director of Research to Kris Griffin a patient, Kirsty Crozier a nurse and closing remarks from Cathy Gilman the Chief Executive. Never have I been so inspired or moved by a series of talks that made me feel incredibly proud to be just a small part of this incredibly special family! One fascinating quote from Chris Pepper, Professor of Haematology at Cardiff Uni was when he expressed his fear of being out of a job in terms of his research into CLL as he was that confident that we are closing in on beating it, which is truly remarkable! I left the room on the final note from Cathy 'life is a gift to be used wisely and lived fiercely' with even more drive, motivation and commitment to the cause but more importantly excitement about what the future holds because we are ever closing in on beating blood cancers, and I truly hope that it is something I can see in my lifetime, and at 19 years of age I hope that it's a possibility!
What else was exciting about the weekend is the ideas and plans that I have been able to bring from the weekend, as part of our 50K Celebrations researchers at the University of Sheffield (where I am currently student) have said that our branch can have a tour of the facilities to see what impact the money is having. As well as this researchers, and members of staff have agreed to come to our £50K Celebration evening when the time comes and fingers crossed can bring the timeline boards I mentioned earlier! With £5,000 to go now we are determined to get there before September!!
How do I wrap things up? Well all I can say is that it was a truly inspiring and moving weekend that I thoroughly enjoyed and feel that I have greatly benefited from attending. I know I'm using the same quote again but what better way to end than to consider Cathy's fantastic words 'life is a gift to be used wisely and lived fiercely'.