Over the weekend of 26 and 27 January, JCI Cambridge welcomed members from across the country to the elegant Jesus College for what was aptly named ‘The Big Weekend’! Compromising of Inspiration Day, JCI Cambridge’s first Annual Gala Dinner, and Business Skills Day, the pressure was on to deliver an amazing event.
As the first national event held by JCI Cambridge since it reformed just three years ago, we needed to show the rest of the UK we are a professional chamber capable of showing our guests a good time. An amazing effort was made by the JCI Cambridge council. Lead by immediate past president Patrick McCrae and unstoppable 2013 president James Mitchell, ‘The Big Weekend’ proved to be a huge success.
Inspiration Day is the first national event of each JCI year and is designed to get members informed, enthused and inspired about plans and goals for the year ahead. Delegates were able to catch up with the national board, attend talks from fantastic keynote speakers, see old friends and meet new members. The day started with introductions from members of the national board about their plans and projects for the year ahead. Headed by 2013 president Emma Eastwood, the morning brought everyone up to speed about the opportunities available in the coming year. We also saw the handing over of a cheque to ‘Save The Children’ raised by members who took part in the £1 a day food challenge at the beginning of the year.
After a short break, we were treated to the first talk of the day from keynote speaker Patrick Knight. Presenting ‘Kick start your chamber’, Patrick delighted and inspired us with his tried and tested techniques to engage and activate current members, spread the word of JCI positively to the wider community and appeal to new members. Patrick was able to relate to the issues chambers face when trying to promote, engage and grow their membership and profile, and provided useful, targeted actions that every chamber could apply.
Following lunch, JCI Cambridge organised a treasure hunt to provide attendees with an opportunity to explore Cambridge. Delegates explored the city in teams, following a map and searched for answers to mini riddles, whilst looking for an opportune moment to take a winning JCI-themed photo. The hunt provided everyone with a light-hearted break, exercise and fresh air.
Patrick Knight once again took to the stage, this time to tell us about his personal journey. Having worked hard to find career success and establish himself as an international speaker, Patrick thought his life could not get any better. Finding out his wife was pregnant with their first child was the icing on the cake. However, this happiness was quickly dashed when Patrick and his family were the victims of the famous ‘Thanksgiving Day massacre’ resulting in Patrick being shot. He was in a coma for three months before having to learn to move his whole body and speak again – without his wife and unborn child, who were devastatingly murdered on that fatal day.
Such a devastating, personal and inspiring story meant there was not a dry eye in the house. Patrick shared his story beautifully, really hitting home to everybody that you never know what is around the corner. The cornerstone of the story for most people was when Patrick described that sometimes you can never forget, or move on from an incident such as this, but you can decide how you carry the experience with you. He explained that he carries his experience and memories of the event as a ‘medal’ on his chest, as a proud, poignant reminder of what happened, and what he has achieved since of the experience.
A short round up of the day followed before Inspiration Day was officially closed and delegates retired to their hotels to prepare for the Gala Dinner. Returning to Jesus College for 7pm, delegates were treated to a delightful drinks reception where we saw the second cheque of the day being handed to our charity of 2012, Arthur Rank Hospice. A total of £2400 was raised throughout 2012 in a myriad of different ways meaning we, exceeded our £2012 target.
Attendees then enjoyed a three course meal during which several ‘taking of wine’ toasts took place to raise money for charity. After several speeches, the ‘handing over’ of the presidents chain took place as Patrick McCrae handed over the reins to James Mitchell for 2013. Copious amounts of wine, gorgeous food and an exquisite venue ensured everybody had a superb evening. For those that could keep going, an exciting after party was booked at Cambridge’s best club, Lola Lo’s. Needless to say, people were still partying at 3am!
Business Skills Day kicked off on Sunday with a few short networking tasks, and a choice of two speakers. Garin Rouch presented ‘Building better business relationships’ covering topics such as the six principles of influence and how to apply these skills to be a better leader, as well as looking at our own ‘influence maps’.
Marcus Orlovsky offered delegates the opportunity to ask advice on any topics they felt useful, as well as discussing his career background and how he notices opportunities for business.
James Mitchell brought the weekend to a close ensuring everyone left feeling inspired, enthused and invigorated for the year ahead. An amazing event from JCI Cambridge to start 2013 – here’s to the year ahead and to next year’s Gala Dinner!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by James Mitchell