JCI National Conference 2012: Belfast
– the lectures, the awards, the Titanic and the treasure hunts!
Each year JCI UK hold a national conference to allow members from UK chambers to attend first-class business talks, take part in competitions, enjoy social events, catch up with old friends and make new ones too. This year, JCI Belfast took the reins to host what promised to be a fantastic event. And oh, what an event it was!
Friday 30 November saw 13 members from JCI Cambridge rise well before the sun to catch their early flight to Belfast. This was of course conducted very professionally as the group approached security wearing stick-on moustaches and carrying a Mr Men suitcase! The idea was to extend ‘Movember’ with ‘Faux-ember’ and raise money for charity whilst wearing moustaches over the course of the conference weekend. Who knew you could get through airport security wearing stick-on facial hair?!
Upon arrival, the group went to sample the best of Irish food with a well earnt fry-up at St George’s Market restaurant. After refuelling on many types of bread, it was time to join in with the JCI activities. Friday afternoon kicked off with a welcome talk from JCI UK National President Solveig Malvik followed by a motivating presentation from Feargal McCormack, managing partner and founder of FPM chartered accountants. JCI Cambridge President Patrick McCrae then took to the stage for the public speaking competition while James Mitchell, Harriet Bastiani and Howard Felstead joined in with a mentoring session with mentees from The Prince’s Trust.
Friday night was spent socialising to the music of a traditional Irish band at the Ulster Reform Club in the heart of the city. After a buffet and several drinks, Howard Felstead bravely stepped up and took part in the Extempore competition, getting through to the final round! The Extempore competition requires participants to take the stage and speak off-the-cuff about a random object chosen by the host. The night was spent meeting new faces, catching up with old friends and generally having a great time.
Despite being slightly delirious from lack of sleep the previous day, nine JCI Cambridge members formed a team and took part in an organised treasure hunt around Belfast on Saturday morning. Possibly one of the funniest JCI tasks to date, this mission saw JCI Cambridge squishing seven people into a phonebox and adopting all sorts of ridiculous poses around the city. And yes, there is much photographic evidence, do check out our facebook page if you’d like to see seven people on top of each other or breaking out into dance in the middle of the street.
Saturday afternoon saw JCI members get down to some ‘serious business’ as they gained an understanding of how to become an effective leader from Professor Jackie McCoy of Ulster University. JCI Cambridge favourite Derek Reilly then took his networking expertise to the next level and lectured on ‘networking for leaders’, which provided the next step from the ‘sex and networking’ presentation he gave to the Cambridge chamber earlier in the year. The debating competition then took place, with JCI Cambridge President Patrick McCrae forming part of of the southern debating team while Immediate Past President Jen Little sat on the judging panel for the contest.
After a long and hilarious day, everyone was looking forward to the Gala Dinner, hosted at the amazing Titanic Belfast. Held in the dining suite, where a replica of the dining room aboard the ship formed the stage for the event, it was truly a special evening. A fantastic three-course meal was followed by an elaborate awards ceremony where JCI Cambridge won a whole host of awards for its work this year.
Most outstanding member award – Harriet Bastiani
Most outstanding regular publication – Engage/Laura Wing
Employee mentoring scheme – certificate of merit
Debating competition – second place
Extempore – second place, Howard Felstead
Public speaking – runner up, Patrick McCrae
Best first timer – Ben Goddard
Belfast treasure hunt – first place
A perfect evening was completed when JCI Cambridge Immediate Past President and chamber founder Jen Little was awarded her JCI Senatorship, meaning she is now a JCI member for life. This was a really special moment for Jen and proud moment for JCI Cambridge.
Finally heading to bed around 5am, a few hours of sleep were had before gathering on Sunday morning for a spot of lunch at quirky haunt ‘Made in Belfast’ before beginning the journey home.
It really was a fantastic weekend meeting lots of great people, hearing some inspiring speakers, eating great food at luxurious venues, and most of all laughing from start to finish.
The focus now turns to JCI Cambridge as it prepares to hold its first ever Business Skills Day, Inspiration Day and Gala Dinner weekend at the end of January. To find out more and book your place, visit our events page now.
Harriet Bastiani, JCI Cambridge Community Director said: “The whole weekend was an amazing experience I will never forget, but Saturday in particular was a highlight for me. Having had only a few hours sleep, JCI Cambridge used its “creativity” to win the treasure hunt by taking photos squished in a phone box, dancing in the street, playing “splat Howard” and creating a window display in Jaeger! I now have a six pack after laughing so hard! The award ceremony in the evening was a particularly special evening for me and I am still very much in shock at receiving my award. However, even better than my award, was seeing Jen our immediate Past President being made a senator for her work in re-establishing JCI Cambridge- something so well deserved and so warmly received.”
Finance Director Ben Goddard said he enjoyed learning about the JCI outside of Cambridge. “The National Conference was a great way of learning how JCI functions at a larger scale. I was fortunate enough to talk with Emma Eastwood at the very start of the event; she seemed to know absolutely everyone attending, which was a great advantage during the signature bingo, as she was able to introduce me to all the relevant people (and help me get their signatures!), which allowed me to win the Best First Time award.”
To see more pictures please see our Facebook Page
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by James Mitchell