2019 started of very busy for the team of LCS Events. Back in November we were asked to join the organiser committee of the CCF Rewilding 2019 Symposium in Cambridge 11-12 January 2019. Location: The hub of conservation, the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge. The group of organisers needed someone to bring professional event organiser insight to the team and also to bring together the different pieces of this massive puzzle. Lilla decided to accept the challenge and joined the organisers committee as the ground manager of the event.
After a few long months of preparations, countless conference calls, thousands of emails and hundreds of hours invested in the event we finally were ready to open doors on the 11th January.
The organisers decided to work with volunteers this time who were mainly from the conservation industry so not completely familiar with events related tasks. Although this was very different to their everyday work, it is safe to stay we couldn't have asked for a better group of people. We had a team of 18 volunteers led by Lilla who raised to the challenge of managing this intense conference.
Close to 450 attendees needed to be checked in and seated at a record time of 45 minutes which was the single biggest bottle neck of the event but the team managed it proficiently. We managed to get through the queue quickly and even offered refreshments for the early birds. The conference started promptly at the set time.
The first day kicked off with incredible keynote speakers like Isabella Tree, Germaine Grier, Alan Watson-Featherstone, Frans Schepers and EJ Milner-Gulland in the Babbage lecture theatre. The thought provoking speeches were followed by Q&A and separated by breaks for coffee and lunch. To bring attendees and speakers together in style the day was coronated with a wine reception in the David Attenborough Building. People could mingle and enjoy some home-made treats before they retired for the next day.
But the organisers’ day didn’t end when everyone else went home. The team still put in a few hours of work to reset the venue for the busy second day and make sure the David Attenborough Building is in a spotless state.
The second day started just as early as the one before but we had the benefit of everyone having the experience of the first day and not having to reregister the majority of attendees (most people bought 2 day tickets and got a wrist band valid for both). The tricky part of the second day wasn’t the registration but the schedule of the day and the different layouts of the rooms. The venue only had a handful of rooms big enough to hold seminars and host all the people who signed up for the talks. On most talks every seat was taken which meant no room for error.
The volunteer team showcased extraordinary team spirit and worked with an incredible standard of proficiency. Some of the seminar rooms needed a complete reset in a 10 minute break between sessions which was only possible through the coordinated and punctual work of 6-8 people. The team didn’t just manage to accommodate these changes but did so with always a smile on their face and a ready to help approach towards not just attendees but other team members. The coordination was run like a Swiss clock where everything was carefully counted for.
On the second day attendees heard David Hetherington talk about Lynx, Derek Gow get excited about lost landscapes, Manda Kalimian & Moses Brings Plenty’s captivating spiritual journey about horses and humanity, finally, George Monbiot gave guidance on what we can do as individuals to stop climate change and make a positive difference in the world.
Both days were enveloped by a panel discussion that brought different keynote speakers on stage to bounce ideas off of each other and respond to questions from the public on a specific subject.
The hard work and well thought through schedule came to fruition when we surveyed the attendees. The overwhelming majority of attendees named the conference “one of the best organised conferences” they have ever been to. This was also echoed by the management team of the David Attenborough Building who claimed “this was the most professionally organised event we have seen in the building”.
However nice it is to get praised for your hard work, the thing that brought the most joy to us was probably that message that we all returned home with. The sense of unity, belonging, optimism, seeing the goal more clearly and wanting to create this positive change. The message is clear. We all agree that the planet needs saving and people need changing.
Let us be the change we want to see in the world then. Let us create these positive shifts in ourselves first. And let the world follow our example, FAST.
P.S. This event was created with gender parity in mind and we made sure both men and women were equally represented in panel discussions, leadership positions within the organising team and in taking questions from the audience.
The event also aimed to stay minimal waste so we used multiple use items whenever possible and we encouraged attendees to spend money with smaller local merchants for their lunch.
The organisers committee is currently deciding on the carbon offsetting plan we will use to make the event carbon neutral.
For more information on this event please visit the Rewilding Symposium website.
If you need support to organise a similar event please email email@example.com