On Saturday 12 October 2019 volunteers from across the South West gathered together for a packed programme at our Volunteer Conference at the Holiday Inn Junction 25, Taunton.
One of the highlights was a talk by inspirational fundraisers Abbie Horning and Ed Spencer, aka The Sport Panthers. Ed spoke about the challenges of managing diabetes during their epic bike ride last year from Bristol to London, which raised over £2,000.
To really challenge themselves at the conference, Abbie and Ed gave their talk while riding a static bike linked up to a live display screen. Their resounding message of “why do it? Because we can!” left everyone wanting to get more active.
Volunteers particularly appreciated two fascinating talks from Bristol University academics. Dr Emma Vincent, RD Lawrence Fellowship, spoke about her work learning more about the link between diabetes and cancer, while Richard Holt, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology, talked about the interconnection between diabetes and mental wellbeing. Delegates said this talk in particular made them start conversations about their own diabetes and mental health.
Three amazing volunteers also spoke. Julia Dinsdale talked about supporting our Exeter group through the change from local to community group, while Paul Walkinshaw outlined the work of our Avon and Somerset Peer Advisors who support members to manage their diabetes well. Sue Briggs then spoke about her rewarding role supporting young people on our Type 1 family events, and the challenge of being on the high ropes course when her glucose monitor alarm went off.
The huge success of the day was reflected in the feedback. “Exceptional” and “brilliant” were just two of the compliments we received. “As a new volunteer, I feel very welcomed,” said a one delegate, while another praised the event for providing “so much invaluable information - I have learnt more today than I have for years.”