Blogger: Kevin Harley
At JCI UK National Convention 2017 in November, I nervously addressed the National Council to pitch the idea of hosting 2018’s first national event, “Presidents and Deputies Weekend” – a weekend of conferencing, training workshops, networking and the obvious socialising. Standing in a room full of strangers in a Southampton hotel that had hosted many JCI events, I felt proud to be inviting them to our city despite the fact that JCI Derry had only just affiliated to JCI UK a couple of months previously – nothing like firing yourself in at the deep end!!! Many had been to Northern Ireland before but not many had ventured across to the “city on the edge of Europe”.
Fast forward 5 months of planning and the first weekend of February welcomes 40 of the UK’s young leaders to our city and intros over a few drinks in DaVincis Hotel – everyone is relaxed and looking forward to the weekend ahead. Kicking off the Saturday morning in our conference centre for the weekend, Catalyst Inc. the delegates cant help but be impressed with the facilities on offer – I did hear a few wows and gasps on arrival!!! The first National Council meeting of the year sees the National Board sit alongside the Presidents and Deputies from each of the local chambers from across the UK to discuss Plan of Action for the year ahead and get feedback on whats going on around the regions as well as an update on National Convention 2018, while the rest of the delegation is benefiting from the Project Management training workshop running alongside in the smaller meeting room.
With the official business done and dusted, we get a beee-yoot lunch provided by Two’s Company Catering and we can loosen up and have a bitta craic with our #DerryGirls themed quiz. Niall from JCI Cambridge actually showed the locals up with his unwavering knowledge and helps his team “Second Best Tent” to the spoils – massive thanks to Checkpoint Charlie for provided prizes and gifts for the winners and everyone who took part. Suitably stuffed we all head into town where a few of the softer lads amongst the group decide not to brave the baltic conditions and head to watch the rugby!!!! The hardier bucks join Mark Lusby for his tour of Derrys Walls and get a whistle-stop journey of the history of our city and its links with London – which still go on to this day.
Looking for a suitable place to thaw out, we arrive at Walled City Brewery, where James and his team are amazing and show off the best local food (and beer) produce there is – happy faces and full bellies all round!!!!! A wee dander back across the peace bridge into Silver Street sees the tongues loosen up and everyone is beginning to adopt their inner Derry with our english friends calling each other “mucker” and saying they’re havin “belter craic” as we “network” into the small hours, with many cross-border “initiatives” in an effort to sort out the Brexit problem!!!! (Note lack of postable photos below!!!!)
With sore dancing feet and even sorer heads, Sunday sees the group – or the majority at least – return for individual coaching for the Presidents and Deputy Presidents of each chamber followed by an Administration workshop – if we had been able to administrate ourselves better the night before, we may have got more out of it but there were definitely some good points that stuck!!!! After another killer lunch from Karen and the team, we signed off and wished everyone a fond farewell, with quite a lot promising to return for Halloween and our Nutts Ball in October – “If this weekend wasn’t nuts…. I dunno if I’m gonna survive the real deal!!!” one delegate was heard to have said.
All in all it was a massive success with huge kudos going out to all the people to helped make it happen…. you all know who you are!!!!! This was another opportunity to show off this amazing place we call home and hope that the visitors no longer know it as “the city of the edge of Europe” but consider it to be a thriving city and people that can host events like this just as well as the big boys!!!!
Photos courtesy of Jim McCafferty Photography
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This post was written by derry