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Go big or go home – memories from Past President John Dalton

  • 05/03/2020 09:55:00
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Go big or go home – memories from Past President John Dalton

With Congress only a month away, we’re in full prep mode here at BSAVA HQ. I have to say, it’s coming around extremely quickly - but I’m definitely excited to finally experience my first Congress after hearing so much about it.

Last week we enjoyed memories from Professor Edward Hall, Ian Mason and Carmel Mooney, which included some bizarre requests from some famous faces as well as traumatising memories of power cuts and having to climb 22 flights of stairs to reach the presidential suite in the ICC. Sounds exhausting, right?

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have noticed that John Dalton has cropped up quite a few times! John was directly involved with Congress for an amazing 16 years, and after the mention of him being a ‘Congress Hero’ to many, it’s nice to hear some memories from the man himself.

It was John who first dared to suggest that Harrogate was not the natural home for Congress, and he recalls the tense meetings with Tim Eaton when negotiating the first contract with the ICC, who sound like they weren’t expecting such a big first event! I’m sure they loved us really.

We were the ICC’s first clients when we held the first Birmingham Congress there, and John recalls “the great joy when they complained that we were tougher to deal with than British Gas,” and “the look of horror on their faces when I said that I wanted to book ALL their rooms from day one. They had been expecting a gentle warm up!”

I like to believe we’re not as tough to deal with now, as they’ve let us hold Congress there for 30 years. There’s the saying “go big or go home,” and I think it’s safe to say we have stuck with that since day one.

The hero of John’s time was Colin Price, (BSAVA President of 1990-91) by agreeing to nail his colours to the ICC mast when the Hyatt was a shell as the nascent ICC was surrounded by what looked very much like bomb craters. John said, “had we failed him, he could have been the first President without a Congress venue!” I imagine that was a distressing thought - but at least we know that it all worked out in the end. John also recalls the snow, which came down heavily on his President’s night outdoor ‘Fayre of Casterbridge’.JohnDalton

And as did most of our Past Presidents, John wanted to mention Cath Caiger and Suzie Reid who worked for the ICC calling them a “superb combination” and saying that the City of Birmingham owes them a lot. It’s lovely that so many people want to thank the ICC staff, and it’s clear that they have made a massive impact on our Congress journey throughout the years.  

To conclude his memories, John says: “It has been a constant joy to me to return to each successively improved Congress to think that I had the privilege of being one of the cogs in the machine that made it all work.”

Aww – thanks John! We’re looking forward to seeing you at this year’s event.

We’d love for you to share some more of your Congress memories and heroes with us in the lead-up to Congress. If you have anything that you’d like to be included in the blog, please email us at - and be sure to include some images, we’d love to see them.

See you next week!



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