Reach - a sparkling event showing the power of connecting
The UK upper limb deficiency charity, Reach, recently held their Annual General Meeting and Family Weekend. Also present were Paralympic medallist Claire Cashmore and exhibitors from top prosthetics companies.
But for us, the fact that Reach invited not only EDRIC chairman, Geoff Adams-Spink, but fellow EDRIC members, Assedea from France and Raggiungere from Italy to strengthen pan-European ties, was evidence that our mottoe of 'Together We're Stronger' is becoming a reality.
Gary Phillips from Reach has written about what was a fantastic event for DysNet.
This weekend saw the annual Reach Family Weekend being held at the Marriott Hotel in Portsmouth, UK. The weekend is the largest gathering of Reach members of the year and is aimed to get parents and children talking, sharing and swapping experiences.
With the children in the Creche, workshops or on the trip 188 parents, grandparents and professionals gathered to initially pay tribute to our late Chief Operating Officer Sue Stokes who tragically and suddenly passed away. The tribute was led by past Chairman Christopher Creamer who summarised her life in Reach and praised her dedication and support over 16 years. The tribute ended with a short tribute film.
During the tea break our 4 exhibitors demonstrated their latest prosthetics. Ottobock, RSL Steeper, Op Care and Dorset Othopedics were exhibiting and have always supported our events.
The first speaker was Nick Hillsdon MBE. Nick is a Clinical Specialist for Upper Limb Prosthetics and in particular that of children. He talked to the conference about prosthetics through the ages over the last 30 years highlighting how we have moved from most people having a prosthetic arm to it really being an individual choice and a majority of people not having one or only using it for a purpose.
The second speaker was very special to Reach members. In the summer a young boy captured the heart of the nation or even the world when he sang solo 'Jerusalem' at the greatest event ever held in the UK, the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Reach member Humphrey Keeper was that boy and his dad Lee told us about hoe Humphrey got to be there and how he has coped with limb difference.
After a break for lunch session 2 started with EDRIC's own Geoff Adams-Spink speaking to our members about how EDRIC came to be and what Dysnet can do for Reach members. He spoke of the future plans of EDRIC and how they want to bring experts from across Europe together with an Experts Conference next year.
The last speaker of the day was a Claire Cashmore, a Paralympic swimmer and medalist who gained a silver and 2 bronzes in the London 2012 Paralympics. Claire's parents joined Reach when she was young and she said Reach helped her in so many ways. She spoke of her training programme and how it felt to swim at the Aquatic Centre. She was a very inspiration speaker.
The formal part of the day followed with the Reach Chairman Nigel Tarrant reporting on our last years activities and our plans for the next year. He introduced our guests from Raggiungere in Italy and Assedea in France. Laetitia Poirez from Assedea briefly expained a bit about their organisation and expressed how pleased they were to be invited. She hoped that our two organisations could work together in the future.
This concluded the formal proceedings and the children were collected from the Crèche and workshops. A special mention for Claire Cashmore must be made at this point as she spent the next two hours standing in the foyer of the hotel signing autographs for the children and having photographs taken with them. She was amazing with the children and for many it was the highlight of the weekend as she had with her Paralympic medals which many of the children wore in their photos.
The evening saw everyone letting their hair down and dancing until the early hours in the Dinner and Dance organised by our Trustee Sian Brooks. A special appearance at the dinner was Humphrey Keeper who gave us a stunning rendition of Jerusalem and had the whole audience singing.
The feedback from our members have been very favourable with many saying it was one of he best Family Weekends. But to me one of the biggest endorsements came from the EDRIC Chairman Geoff Adams-Spink who said "The REACH event was much bigger than I had anticipated and very slickly produced." he continued "you should be extremely proud of what your organisation puts on for its members."
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