The Road to IFOMPT 2016 : A personal view on my role.

As I sit and write this  on a cold and windy Welsh morning after the sorrows of both a welsh, Scottish and Irish loss at the rugby world cup you might ask yourself how did a ESP from Merthyr Tydfil end up being  on the IFOMPT 2016 committee and what does she exactly do.

Firstly an introduction, I currently work as clinical lead ESP for Cwm Taf University Health Board  in Wales and have been lucky enough to be  involved with the MACP since gaining membership all those years ago.

Prior to my role  on this committee I have been involved  on the MACP executive committee as both Communications officer and joint chair  of the PDC. So when the call out from Chris Mercer  to volunteer for IFOMPT 2016 I jumped at the chance. My long suffering husband once asked “If Chris Mercer asked you to put your hand  in the fire would you do it?” and  to be honest  if he gave me a good enough (evidence  informed) reason I probably would.

I joke that  one day at a MACP or IFOMPT 2016 meetings when I’m sat next to people I admire  in the world  of MSK physiotherapy that  I’m going to be found out. A hand will be placed  on my thigh with a knowing look and without words that will be the signal that  it’s time for me to pack my stuff up and leave without making a fuss.

So what  in Chris Mercer’s wisdom was the job he was going to give me. Surely with my international research profile it would be scientific chair or with my expert knowledge  of up and coming speakers worldwide, it would be looking after the programme. Luckily for IFOMPT 2016 these jobs were given to people with more expertise and experience. Looking at the programme you can see the work that has gone  into the programme structure to know  we are putting  on a high quality  world class MSK conference and it is something all MACP members can be proud to be associated with.

Anyway back to me. It was decided by the committee that I should be  in charge  of sponsorship and exhibition as well as  general marketing, twittering and blogging about the conference.

So here I am with the conference happening  in July and an exhibition hall to organise and  income to generate. A large task, yes. One that could cause sleepless nights, yes. Once that we won’t achieve, NO.

Behind the scenes  of the conference we  have been working to build up interest  with potential sponsors and exhibitors. We now have a comprehensive database  of potential exhibitors with all the companies approached  impressed by our professional attitude and what we can offer to promote their brand. We  have looked to attract exhibitors  that compliment the theme of the programme with “Expanding Horizons” and the extended practice roles physiotherapist now have  in diagnostics, exercise prescription, research  and prescribing.

I am lucky to have a great team working alongside me. Olli Brook from MCI is now part  of the MACP family and mine and Chris’s biggest regret is after July we will not have our weekly (sometimes daily) updates from Olli.

My sponsorship partner  in crime is of course Chris Mercer and we are often found together at conferences luring you in with Whiskey, Loch Ness monsters, pens and promotional items then talking enthusiastically about how this is a once  in a lifetime opportunity to go to an IFOMPT conference in the UK (The UK hosted the last conference 40 years ago). Behind the smiles and warm welcome  at the stand, is the long drives and early starts to these conferences. With both Chris and myself  having young families, and full time jobs,  any time away from home  is precious so we are often up at 6am arranging meetings to maximise our conference  input.

So this  is a small request both to MACP and IFOMPT members and people coming to IFOMPT 2016 . If you are passing us at a stand, come and say hello. We love to talk to people about the conference and would love to share our journey to July 2016. So #followustoglascow.

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helen welchThis article was written by Helen Welch. When not organising IFOMPT 2016 Helen specialises in neuromusculoskeletal medicine. Her currently role is lead extended scope practitioner for Cwm Taf Health Board specialising in spinal disorders. She represents Cwm Taf on the All Wales National Pathway for low back pain and also acts as a clinical lead into the Non Malignant Pain Pathway and Redesign of Musculoskeletal services in Cwm Taf.

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