I have to be careful what I write here because a) my boss occasionally reads my blog, and b) we got a directive last week telling us that staff had to be very careful what they wrote on social media sites in terms of the reputation of our employers.
But anyway, I went to the Association of Healthcare Communications and Marketing annual conference in Sutton Coldfield this week. This is the kind of semi-expensive conference sometimes referred to as a 'jolly'. I'm not sure who goes on jollies, but I worked like a dog during this conference, starting with a 7am departure on the Tuesday.
I pretty much wrote notes all day, during my breaks I toured the exhibition researching ideas from other organisations and various compaines who could help us do a better job, then networked all night to both raise the profile of my organisation on a UK level and to represent Wales generally. Two 15-18 hour days that left me knackered.
So, not a jolly. But a brilliant opportunity to learn and be inspired.
The real highlight though was the Communicating Healthcare Awards on the Wednesday night. We were up for two awards and my boss Andrew had been nominated in his own right for a third. Our two awards were announced at the beginning of the night and we didn't win. Sigh.
Fortunately we had been put on a table with the Scottish contingent and we had some vicarious wins 'for the table' when one of the Scottish organisations picked up an award and a runner up. Celtic solidarity and all that.
Then the award for Communicator of the Year came up. "And the winner is... Andrew!" I let out a huge yell of triumph - so much so that our head of department Jonathon said you'd have thought I'd have won - and a slightly stunned Andrew headed to the stage to pick up his award from the NHS Director of Communications, Colin Douglas.
I still feel incredibly chuffed that Andrew won. He totally deserved it because he has worked damn hard to make a difficult comms message work, and there's a personal triumph to it as well. He said to me it was almost three years to the day since he had been let go from the place we previosuly worked together. (Now he has been recognised as one of the industry's best. That was always an 'interesting' decision by our previous employers!)
I helped to write his nomination (so, really the award is mine, ha ha) and can vouch that every word is true. No hyperbole. I did tell one of my new Scottish friends about my involvement in the writing and she turned to her Director of Communications and said "Ally, we've got to hire this guy!" But we had all had a little bit of vino by that point, so I don't think that was in any way serious. I'm not moving to Glasgow, don't worry.
Then there was dancing to some old school classics until midnight. Oh yeah.