Type of event: Three-day residential conference with drinks reception and dinner
Group size: 400
Dates: 11th-13th January 2017
The British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) is a charity set up by NHS neurologists and paediatricians. Organised into 16 regions across the UK and Ireland, it runs a year-round programme of courses, including Paediatric Epilepsy Training (PET), as well as an Annual Conference. In 2017 it held its 43rd Conference in Cambridge, a three-day residential event with drinks reception and dinner.
Gail Young, Secretariat Manager for BPNA, is responsible for all the UK courses. She said: “For our 43rd Annual Conference we wanted a destination which has historical interest to attract delegates from all over the world, central venues which are accessible and as the programme is primarily lecture-based, we needed a Lecture Theatre to seat 350-400.
“We use the opportunity of the Conference to hold a number of other Association meetings so breakout rooms nearby are important, as is space for a Poster Exhibition and sponsor stands. West Road Concert Hall met all these requirements, as well as providing good AV and catering.
“In terms of overnight accommodation, we gave information on a range of options from luxury hotels to College accommodation which delegates could book themselves directly.
“We also wanted to hold our Annual Conference dinner in a venue with a ‘wow’ factor and the Great Hall at King’s College was perfect and the team were flexible, allowing us to negotiate good rates to keep the costs down as many of our delegates are self-funding.
“The drinks reception which we had at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was just fabulous!
“In advance of our event, Meet Cambridge was very supportive and listened carefully to our requirements before providing detailed information and contacts. Judith Sloane was extremely accommodating, liaising with the Colleges on our behalf and working hard to find solutions to our challenges. It was great to have someone on the ground in the city with such in-depth knowledge and contacts at her finger-tips. Judith even sourced some free maps for us to put in our conference packs for delegates.
“Throughout we found the conference teams at all the venues to be helpful and flexible and they worked well with our own organisers. They understood that we are a not-for-profit organisation and any surplus funds go into other activities such as international development which means there were limitations in terms of costs. Last minute requests for additional storage space at West Road were met cheerfully and Lindsay at the Museum helped to find some music for our drinks reception.
“Our 43rd Annual Conference was a great success. There’s no doubt that choosing Cambridge as our destination was a popular draw for delegates, some of which had trained in the city and were keen to return. This Conference saw an increase in terms of attendance and because of the space at West Road, we were able to accept more posters. Delegates were also attracted by the social programme which was exciting and certainly helped to make it a very memorable event.”
Image credits: Damien Vickers Photography (Punting, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology); Robert Massam (King's College Hall); Alice Boagey (West Road Concert Hall).