This time last week, I was preparing to make my way to Bolton, Greater Manchester, for the national Hospital Radio Conference & Awards, a weekend that proved to be engaging, fun and thought provoking. 

For those who don’t know, this is the biggest event in the Hospital Radio calendar and is held annually. Organised by the Hospital Broadcasting Association, the weekend always brings members of hospital radio stations from across the country together in one place, to share ideas, visit local stations and have fun. Not forgetting the pinnacle event, the awards ceremony itself, usually held on a Saturday night.

I travelled with Sam and James from Radio Horton, and Friday’s journey was somewhat delayed due to a part closure of the M6, so we arrived at the hotel at 2pm. Once we arrived, it was a case of checking in, dumping bags in our respective rooms and making our way down to the main foyer to begin networking.

Hosting our final seminar on Saturday

Sam and I have spent the past month or so working on a seminar we ran at the conference. Digital Communications was the name of the game, and our first seminar on Friday evening had a good turnout, as did the repeat first thing Saturday morning. In all, we helped around 38 people get to grips with their Digital Communications, and we hope they took something away with them. The live  tweet aspect of our seminar proved fun, and showed the realism that social media has, something the audience didn’t quite grasp.

Friday night’s entertainment was an audience with Stephanie Hirst. Stephanie used to be a guy called Simon. She had no qualms in telling us the struggles she had been through in her life to get to where she is today. Ultimately, radio played a pivotal role throughout her life, and I left feeling inspired. It was a heartwarming insight into her life, and she always looks on the bright side of it too.

Ian meets David Lloyd (Pictured left)

David Lloyd‘s seminar on Saturday was thought provoking. He asked “Is Hospital Radio still relevant”; a subject he had previously posted about on his blog. Needless to say, he very much agreed it was still relevant, but stations need to look at how they deliver hospital radio and for what cause. It was great to meet David. I’m certainly a long time tweeter, first time meeter!

Then came the HBA’s Annual General Meeting, where I was appointed as a Trustee for a further three years. That’s three years I’ve got to ensure the charity is meeting the needs of its member stations, and progressing forward, encompassing new technologies and keeping in touch with how the NHS is changing, and how this might have an impact on our member stations. A role I’m excited to be taking up.

Saturday evening saw the Hospital Radio Awards take place. An event full of glitz, glamour and volunteers from across the country awaiting to hear how they or their stations would do. I was responsible for live tweeting the event for the HBA, notified at rather short notice. However, it was fun, and I did enjoy tweeting most of the winners before others in the room got their tweets out!

Radio Cherwell’s delegates

Radio Cherwell, I’m please to say, won GOLD in the Best Programme with Multiple Presenters category for our children’s programme, the Wicked Weekday Show. We’re super pleased with the result, as are the team, who have put so much effort in getting the programme off the ground, and entertaining the patients on a weekly basis.



Sunday saw the usual itinerary of a farewell lunch, and ultimately getting over the fact the clocks went forward an hour the night before.

It was a pleasure to catch up with old friends, and make new friends too. There was so much enthusiasm in the room for hospital radio, and it’s apparent it plays a vital role more now, than it ever did before. There are challenges stations face both on a local level, as well as nationally, but with stations moving forward with technology, and their continued enthusiasm, it’s clear that Hospital Radio still plays an important function during a patients stay in hospital.

Same again next year?

Ian Pinnell

Ian Pinnell is an award winning broadcaster & creative from Oxfordshire. He currently serves as a Trustee for two charities, and Publicity Officer for Radio Cherwell, hospital radio in Oxford.

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