It’s less than a month to go now until our last Birmingham Congress. It seems that throughout our blog posts there has been mention of a certain few people of whom Congress wouldn’t have been the same without. Last week we heard from John Dalton, someone who has been a Congress Hero to many, and a Past President who certainly left his mark on the BSAVA.
This week we’re looking at memories sent in to us by two of our Past Presidents, Freda Scott-Park and Tony Bradley, both with very different Congress memories! Like most of the Past Presidents we have heard from, Freda recalls Congress having its fair share of challenges. But what’s an event without a little bump in the road?
During her Congress year (2004), there were very long queues for registration, and if you recall from one of my previous blog posts, this was the year when the power went out and unfortunately Freda had to help her elderly colleagues up to the Presidential Suite by staircase. She said “I was only 39 but it tested my stamina to the limit.” Don’t worry Freda - that sounds like a struggle for anyone!
Unfortunately, that year somehow managed to overlook a seating plan for the banquet, causing pandemonium. Freda said it left her and our volunteers manager Carole Haile with table-plan nightmares for years after. I am pleased to assure you that such an oversight has not happened since.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. One of the things Freda loved about Congress was the ‘Congress design’. This was different every year and channelled a theme from the current president. It started with Lynne Hill’s Celtic design, John Dalton’s cat, and someone even had a mosaic. Freda said that she had a painting of hers done by David Wilson from Fort William. Freda also recollected that Lynne had Irish Guards at her Awards Ceremony where she gifted them a Wolfhound - although she does admit that she could have dreamt that.
Richard Noble, developer of Thrust the ‘supercar’ was one of Freda’s favourite speakers, and Cath Caiger who worked for the ICC was also mentioned again, as Freda said she was a firm supporter of the BSAVA and did so much for us in the ‘wow’ factor department.
In quite a contrast, Tony’s first memory of Congress was in 1962 in London when he was a student, 29 years before moved into the ICC in Birmingham. There was only one stream of lectures and the highlight of that year’s Congress was a transatlantic panel discussion via satellite. The link had only just been established and the BSAVA was one of the first organisations to make use of it. From that it seems BSAVA are part of history!
One of the panel speakers from the 1962 Congress was Joan Joshua, who joined Liverpool University soon after as a lecturer in surgery. Tony came into contact with her during his final year, the year that he also met his future wife who was working as Joan’s secretary. They kept in touch with Joan for many years and he says she was very supportive and helpful.
During his time at Congress he met Brian Singleton and Ken Evans, who he said “were very helpful to me during my time on BSAVA committees and officer progress… actually all Past Presidents were always helpful and supportive”. He also mentioned Derek Tavenor who he remembers with affection for “helping me both in the BSAVA and my working life”.
It’s nice to get some different perspectives on Congress going from having one of the first ever transatlantic panels to having huge queues for registration in the ICC 42 years later.
58 years since Tony Bradley went to his first ever Congress, it’s now only 3 weeks until our last Congress in Birmingham. Next week we’ll be looking at memories from one of our BSAVA International Travel Scholarship winners, Tetiana Khramova.
See you next week.