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Conference Report from Friends for Life UK 2017

27 October 2017 was a big day in the life of T-1 Today UK. It was the first day of our first Friends for Life UK conference and its arrival was eagerly anticipated after a two-year gap. The Beaumont House was in the process of going through change too with new dining and bar facilities and many of the bedrooms being upgraded. It was good to be back in familiar surroundings with hundreds old and new faces.

The Conference kicked off on Friday evening with our Opening Keynote being delivered by not only Jeff Hitchcock but also Laura Billetdeaux, who had always been beavering away in the background in previous years. Laura told the very moving story of how T1D arrived in her household, her finding the CWD website (which Jeff had founded years before) and how that encouraged her to send an open invitation on the website to other CWD families to join her and her family on holiday in Orlando. Little did she, or Jeff, realise just what they were creating. If Jeff had not started the website and Laura had not invited families to meet up in Orlando, T-1 Today UK would not exist.

To our amazing Sponsors – Abbott, Insulet, Animas and Dexcom – thank you for your support. Without you, the Conference would not have been in the format it was. Thank you for supporting us and assisting us to reach out to the ever-increasing number of families continually being affected by T1D. There is nothing quite like our community and your continued support makes an enormous difference.

Many thanks to our wonderful Faculty who, in their own ways, have a real talent for helping our families understand the most challenging aspects T1D throws at us. Your sessions were moving, informative and delivered with humour. Your commitment to T-1 Today UK is greatly appreciated and we look forward to continuing and developing this relationship in the years to come.

Our Closing Keynote speaker, Will Cross, filled the room with laughter. Thank you, Will, for travelling so far to partake in our Conference. We will follow your expeditions with pride and awe as you face the challenges thrown your way. Wishing you lots of luck with them all.

This year over half the number attending were first timers and the atmosphere was as electric as ever.

To all our Youth Programme Leaders and staff – heartfelt thanks for your hard work, enthusiasm, talent and energy. What each and every one of you brought was fun and laughter. The children had a wonderful time and every first timer was put at ease very quickly. They all learned so much, in such little time, and all were grinning from ear to ear from the very first session to the very last.

To our hardworking support team, grateful thanks for keeping everything running smoothly, whether it be in registration, co-ordinating the breakout sessions, being at the helm of the exhibition hall or taking charge of the tech side. You worked so tirelessly in making our first conference a roaring success.

Now thinking to our second ... hope to see you all next year, 26th-28th October 2018.

Finally, to sum up the whole weekend, I’d like to share the message I received from Mike Cross, Will Cross’s Dad, shortly after the Conference:

“I much enjoyed speaking to several parents and several of your team, but my abiding memory is of all the children rushing around hither and thither without any concerns that they might be picked on because of their situation. In short, as a rather critical newcomer, an outstanding event if I may say so.”

Links below will take you to the photo gallery and printed program.