Bart’s & Queen Mary University Science Festival

Preparation Day

Do we realise how much work is involved in planning and organising an event like this and do we know how time consuming it is?

I ask because I have helped a little at this event for the past few years but generally speaking I have come along and done a few bits and pieces whilst all these other things were happening around me and I rather took it all for granted. I think it is time to acknowledge all the hard work done by Jane Batchelor and thank her, on behalf of everyone, for once again organising such a vibrant and successful Science Festival. 

If you come to think this report is long-winded you would probably be right – but consider yourselves lucky because this is only a fraction of the work and thought put into the Science Festival by Jane each year and if you complain I will prepare a supplementary report containing more detail and make you read that.

This year in addition to briefing me on different matters arising as we went along; Jane gave me an inch-thick bundle of documents which contained detailed notes of requirements and her record of arrangements with the event stallholders. Her arrangements with the Queen Mary Staff (including parking arrangements), stage erectors, Ambulance cover and couriers were also detailed and timetabled to ensure that everything was ready in good time for the event. The speakers had been found and booked for the event too. All of this had been gone over to ensure that everything was in place and that there were no last-minute changes or hitches. Oh! I nearly forgot, supplies for the all-important water station had to be ordered in and set up too. Good job I wasn’t organising the fair!

A detailed schedule of arrangements was made for this preparation day. There were also lists of important contact names and telephone numbers in case of emergencies. I must say I really like this meticulous attention to detail and it meant that Jane’s helpers could be more effective in support if the occasion arose. I think that Jane, like all good planners do all this in the knowledge that things will never go completely to plan (the best laid plans of mice and men….) but she does have more than enough ammunition in her armoury to cope with anything that arises. The notes started a long time before the event itself, some of them shortly after last years’ Science Fair” and I know she must have spent much effort contacting people to ensure such a full attendance too. There will be a million and one other things to do as well but we must leave Jane with some of her secrets!

For me this preparation began with updates from Jane leading up to the day and culminating with a meeting with her and Paul Bowers Isaacson of TrialsConnect on Friday 15th June where we made final arrangements.

On the day, after our equipment had been sorted out, I met with a second helper and we transported our goodies, and also those belonging to Fengjun He who was one of our speakers, from the Clinical Research Centre. 

We set up our table and tried unsuccessfully to set up the TrialsConnect display stall. In the end, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and retired defeated. We did not want to break it and we left it to Paul Bowers Isaacson’s expertise the next morning. Jane had already organised the tables and display boards by the time we had arrived and the tables named for the exhibitors had a campus map and web passcode for the day. The seating for the audience was also arranged.

I joined Jane for her ‘helpers briefing’ followed by the setting up of the Let’s Talk Hearts stall and pinned up a couple of the posters I had prepared and showed her the feedback forms I had designed for the event. 

I also met and had a talk with the charming  Fengjun He. She was giving a talk at the Science Fair and she wanted to run through her presentation. The sound was not a problem because I had done a sound check with the mics but she did not want to do this without her graphics on screen. She had a memory stick but unfortunately did not have a laptop with her and as she had not asked us to provide one for her for the preparation day we did not have one there immediately to hand. Jane and I explained that she would have to wait until IT returned but she was anxious because she was busy and had to return to work. She had a printout of all her graphics and after I invited her to describe her presentation to me we chatted and she explained what her most interesting talk –  certainly suitable for schoolchildren. Like Fengjun He, I believe they can have a powerful influence on parents’ behaviour and are certainly capable of influencing their actions. I also took her over to three of Jane’s helpers to put her further at ease and their reaction was also very positive.

IT then turned up and Fengjun He was able to test that her graphic display was working and I found a small table for her assistant and space for her stand next to our TrialsConnect stall.

The rest of the afternoon was spent supervising the installation of the stage, liaising with the Queen Mary staff for all the housekeeping items like the table cloths and cleaning to ensure that we had everything ready for the following day and that all the stalls were tidy and clean. We also liaised with IT and identified and confirmed that all the equipment was installed and working properly. I also made sure that the TrialsConnect stall had a suitable lead plugged in to the monitor for use with a laptop the following day. The Health and Safety man also paid us a visit to ensure that everything was OK.

We finished up by telephoning and waiting for security to lock up behind us. Jane had been at the Octagon since 8.30am and I think we eventually got away at about 4.45pm.

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