What an amazing summer we had!

We welcomed over 20,000 visitors to more than 160 conferences, meetings, summer schools and dining events here at the University of Leeds!

The key theme to 2018 has been collaboration, as we hosted events which brought university departments, academic associations and charities together in partnership to deliver memorable experiences for delegates and organisers alike. We even won a prestigious Conference Award and a Sustainability Award for our collaborations, so you know where to come for award winning events!

Now autumn has crept in we say hello to our student community, but we still have places you can book day meetings, fine dining, training days and more, so get in touch!

So without further ado, we take a look back at the highlights of the sunniest conference season we can remember, including; record breaking events, award winning partnerships, fire breathing dragons, a dozen decorated pianos, and much more…

Staff Festival 2018

Staff Festival 2018

We kicked off the summer in celebratory style, as we hosted the hugely popular Staff Festival, which proved to be a record-breaking success. Thousands of people flocked to the campus celebrations, enjoying an entertainment extravaganza staged on a beautiful summer’s day.

With the theme ‘A Festival of Making’, the packed programme of events included workshops, refreshments, live music, games and competitions for all ages. As a result, Pets As Therapy (PAT), this year’s chosen charity, benefitted from donations to the tune of £2,888.26.

Rachel Robinson, a member of the University’s Engineering department and a PAT volunteer, said:

“A big thank you not only for your votes to be the nominated Staff Festival charity 2018 but for the generous support. We would like to thank everyone who came to say hello to the PAT dogs – it was a very warm day but we loved meeting you all.”

Feedback via the online Staff Festival survey also revealed the vast majority of those attending the event thoroughly enjoyed the mix of activities. Comments included: “I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the variety of activities for adults and children, but mainly the opportunity to bond with colleagues in a work environment that was supportive of that opportunity.” “Great Festival – best one yet. Thank you to everyone involved in organising such a great afternoon.” “Many thanks for all the hard work you must have put in to make this event such a success.” “Really love the Festival. Thanks for putting it on for us.”

Jenna Hudson, LOGIK Centre Administrator and Staff Festival organising committee member, said:

“On behalf of the committee, we would like to thank everyone who attended A Festival of Making, which was a huge success. It was a pleasure, as always, to work on the Festival and we look forward to the 2019 event.”

IMC 2018 - Here Be Dragons in University Square

International Medieval Congress 2018

This year’s International Medieval Congress (IMC) marked significant milestones: the 25th Congress since its beginning in 1994 and the 50th anniversary of the Institute for Medieval Studies (IMS).

The IMC, is hosted at the University of Leeds as a collaboration between MEETinLEEDS and the Institute for Medieval Studies. Welcoming a record-breaking 2,907 registered delegates, this year’s IMC was the largest Congress to date and the biggest medieval studies conference in the world. With a theme of ‘Memory’, subjects covered ranged from archaeology, literature and medicine, to papers about TV series Game of Thrones

The IMC saw a staggering 750 separate academic sessions comprising of 2,200 individual papers exploring all aspects of Medieval Studies. Where most paper proposals have historically focused on the European Middle Ages, this year boasted a dedicated ‘Global Middle Ages’ theme, reflecting the importance of links between medieval civilisations across the world. And the inaugural New Voices lecture was another first, dedicated to showcasing new perspectives in Medieval Studies from early career researchers. Displays and demonstrations of birds of prey, thrilling combat displays, medieval food, drink and crafts filled University Square. Huge smoke-breathing ‘dragons’ swooped and soared above the crowds.

Axel Müller, director of the IMC, said:

“Since 1994, when the IMC began, in excess of 20,000 people from more than 90 countries have come to Leeds to experience the Congress,”

“We’re very proud of the contribution the Congress makes to the University and to medieval studies research worldwide, and we’re proud we celebrated our 25th year with such an exciting and multi-faceted programme.”

“Leeds provides the perfect setting for the event. We required over 7,000 beds this year, but this was easily facilitated here. In addition, the city is positioned to access a range of historical landmarks, offering many opportunities for cultural visits and tourism to delegates, scoping beyond the programme.”

Claire Heap, Head of Conference Leeds, commented:

“Leeds has become a real hub for international events and conferences, with the International Medieval Congress’s home in the city showcasing this, alongside other recent international wins. Venue space within Leeds is truly excellent and can facilitate large conference numbers. Furthermore, the city is capable of accommodating delegates in brilliant hotels and offers international visitors wonderful, unique experiences. There is something for everyone here.”

Nutrition Society Summer Conference

Nutrition Society Summer Conference

In July the Nutrition Society Summer Conference came to campus for the second time in its 77 year history. We welcomed 400 health professionals, policy makers, nutritionists, and academics from various Universities from around the globe.

The conference was an excellent example of  engagement online, with over 570 tweets using the official hashtag, #NSsummer18, indicating the high level of debate and conversation which took place over the three-day period.

The conference aimed to not only inform and educate delegates but to practice what it taught. Reflecting the theme of the conference, careful consideration was made to source healthy, local produce and an activity programme was created for attendees, which included morning jogs and yoga.

Delegates were able to enjoy the fantastic facilities that the University offered at every stage of the conference. This included a drinks reception at the iconic Parkinson Building, excellent on site accommodation at Storm Jameson Court and high quality lecture theatres in the Conference Auditorium, large enough to accommodate the many delegates attending.

Dr J Bernadette Moore at the University of Leeds commented:

“We are delighted at the success of the recent Nutrition Society Summer Conference. It is often hard to demonstrate success, but with the 570 tweets that engaged with the hashtag, it gives an indication of the enthusiasm shared between delegates at the event. The attendees also thoroughly enjoyed how the conference topic was reflected in the format, from healthy food choices to an early morning start with a 5km jog around the city centre – it was a truly rounded conference which let the delegates learn in both theory and practice, whilst exploring a thriving city at the same time.”

Harriet Boatwright, Sales & Marketing Manager at MEETinLEEDS, added:

“The Nutrition Society Summer Conference is a clear demonstration of how the University of Leeds can facilitate a conference effectively in one place, whilst allowing delegates to enjoy the wider aspects of Leeds as a whole. From a drinks reception at the Parkinson Building to accommodation on site, to wider venues in Leeds such as the Leeds Town Hall where the Gala dinner was held – the University is proud to collaborate across the city to create the ideal conference solution.”

Conference Awards 2018 - MEETinLEEDS and Communication Matters

Communication Matters

Over 400 attendees attended this year’s Communication Matters Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Annual Conference, which included over 80 presentations, a very popular exhibition of the UK’s leading suppliers of AAC products, social events and much more.

Communication Matters is a UK-based charitable organisation, which works to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs. They deliver training, support research and lobbying, to promote a vision where all individuals have a right to a ‘voice’ through the provision of equipment and ongoing support services. Lee Ridley, winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2018 and nicknamed Lost Voice Guy, is a Patron for Communication Matters.

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at MEETinLEEDS, commented:

“We are incredibly excited and honoured to remain the host for the Communications Matters conference here in Leeds. It is a fantastic organisation and we are privileged to support the work they do. We work alongside the team at Communication Matters, not only as a client and venue, but as co-hosts, to ensure we offer so much more than just the venue to this amazing organisation and to the attending delegates.”

Since first hosting the conference at the University in 2013, MEETinLEEDS and Communication Matters have developed a unique and beneficial partnership, culminating in the award for “Best Partnership or Collaboration” at the Conference Awards 2018.

Anthony Lowe, Event Manager at MEETinLEEDS said:

“Quite simply Communication Matters has changed the way we think as service providers, we already know we have excellent customer service skills, but this partnership has highlighted that we can go further, it’s about understanding and accepting that not everyone processes information in the same way that we do and being flexible enough to change our interactions accordingly. The partnership enables both sides to enhance their skills and knowledge.”

Leeds International Piano Competition - Great Hall with BBC filming van outside

Leeds International Piano Competition

The competition, open to pianists under 30 from around the world, has had a close relationship with the University of Leeds since its earliest days in 1961.

For the first time The Leeds, as it is affectionately known, hit the road – taking the competition to the competitors. Starting with international first rounds shared across Berlin, Singapore and New York in April, 68 entrants were whittled down to 24 finalists from 16 countries and territories. They made their way to Leeds for the second round and semi-finals, held right here in the Great Hall between 6 – 14 September.

Eric Lu, 20, from the US, was awarded first place at the finals at Leeds Town Hall on 16 September, in what is widely regarded as among the most coveted prizes in the musical world.

The event was a glittering finale to the triennial piano competition which – with the University as its principal partner – has seen every aspect of the instrument celebrated by a wider audience than ever before.

Also part of the piano competition – for which the University of Leeds is principal partner – is a large and varied range of concerts and events designed to run alongside the main competition. This included the Leeds Piano Trail – 12 beautifully decorated pianos across the city – an opportunity for anyone to play and enjoy the piano for free. Two recent Fine Art graduates, Sophie Bullen and Ollie Getley, were commissioned to prepare the piano here in Parkinson Court, as well as one located in Leeds train station.

Oil and Colour Chemist's Association - Parkinson Building

Oil & Colour Chemists’ Association

In what was the final event of the summer, the Oil & Colour Chemists’ Association (OCCA) celebrated its centenary year here at the University of Leeds, with a progressive and informative technical programme including speakers from academia and industry covering a range of science important to the colour chemist industry.

Even though the association has a long and distinguished history, this was the first time all members were invited to assemble for a conference, making the University of Leeds the inaugural location for an event which is certain to grow in the coming years.

The OCCA Centenary Conference provided a forum and networking for scientists, engineers and technologists from academia, government laboratories and industry.

Attendees presented their key scientific discoveries and offered the association members a chance to share findings, exchange ideas, share insights, make new friends and renew old acquaintances. Taking place in the School of Chemistry and Parkinson Building meant the talks, exhibition and catering for the conference was accommodated within a short indoor walking distance.

Ann-Marie Etherington, Marketing & Membership Services at OCCA, said:

“On behalf of the organising committee, a massive thank you to MEETinLEEDS for your help, advice, support and service you all provided in helping us to achieve a very successful event. We have received some lovely comments from many of our delegates, all of which confirm that the conference was a success. The facilities were great and the fact that everything on campus was within a short walking distance made the logistics very easy. The food was fantastic and staff were brilliant! We sincerely hope we are able to repeat the event in Leeds in the years ahead.”