HBA Annual Conference – Stoke

Whatever you think about Stoke-on-Trent, it’s not a bad place (Not the bit I visited anyway!) as HBA held their Annual Conference & National Hospital Radio Awards there this year.

It was a weekend full of informative seminars, networking and of course a celebration of hospital, health and wellbeing broadcasting. 

David Lloyd provided the Friday night entertainment as we were treated to a special live ‘Conversations’ piece, with Sean Dunderdale asking the questions. It was great to hear about David’s career and how the Free Radio and Gem brands came to fruition. It was also interesting to hear what life is like on ‘the other side’, working for regulation and consultancy.

Saturday saw many interesting seminars take place, one thought provoking one, where Matt Wade asked, ‘Why only being a radio station for ill people is not a long-term plan’. It was intriguing and thought provoking. By the same token, the ‘Beyond the Bucket’ seminar with Di Flatt was helpful, members of my station who attended this particular seminar left with thoughts and new ideas and certainly points to take back to the stations fundraising group to move forward with.

I particularly enjoyed the session with the site director of Royal Berkshire NHS Trust, Lorraine Jeffrey, who gave an insight into her role and how NHS Trusts could potentially utilise their own hospital radio stations to spread messages to patients, staff and visitors.

Other seminars that took place included a look back at the first hundred years of hospital radio, WiFi and how it’s opening up a new world of patient entertainment, converting to a CIO and, one I hosted with a colleague, a Communications Surgery, where we looked at how stations and their members can utilise social media to reach out to listeners, the community but most importantly their NHS Trusts and local organisations within, to build stronger working relationships.

Saturday night was a chance to celebrate the excellent work of volunteers from across the country as the National Hospital Radio Awards took place. This glitzy event was one of the best yet. Messages from Paul Sylvester, Matt Hancock and Simon Mayo appeared on screen, just to name a few. 

I was live tweeting the event from the HBA’s Twitter account (as part of my role as Comms Exce), along with Sam Smette. The atmosphere in the room was palpable at times with tension, excitement and merriment and I hope we brought that across in our tweets for those that weren’t able to attend. Again, congratulations to everyone who was nominated and won awards.

It was great to catch up with old friends, make new ones and see some of the things I’d spent a few months working on, come to fruition, especially the printed On-Air magazine.

Who knows where the Conference will be next year, but wherever it is, I’ll see you there!