Report on the inaugural meeting of the Midlands Network, by Sebastian Powers, CIOL Liaison
On a rather chilly Saturday afternoon the members of the newly formed Midlands Network found refuge in the Han Dynasty restaurant, not far from the new Grand Central station in Birmingham. Huddled in a rather humble downstairs room, the 20 or so attendees slightly exceeded capacity, leading to some creative seating arrangements - the perfect ice breaker.
The meeting was chaired by Michelle Doherty, one of the Network’s founding members. She explained that the group had originally started life as the West Midlands Network, but, through conversations with other members during last year’s Members' Day, it was agreed that there was sufficient interest to expand the group to cover the whole Midlands area. Interestingly a lively Midlands Network existed several decades ago, but sadly wound down over the years. This group had been very much centered on CPD whereas its new incarnation is more fluid, reacting and shaping itself to the interests and suggestions of its members. It is hoped that this new approach will prove popular and that the Midlands Network will provide a friendly and welcoming forum for the regions' linguists for years to come.
The group was very pleased to have the support of Jane Galbraith, the CIOL’s Head of Membership. Jane expressed her enthusiasm and excitement for the creation of a new regional group under the CIOL banner. As part of her talk, Jane ran through CIOL's recent membership review, noting that membership had climbed over the past 12 months, as well as explaining changes to the membership grades from September 2016.
After her talk the group turned its attention to electing a steering committee to guide the Network through its first 12 months. Nicola Dean was elected Chair in absentia, with the other positions being filled as follows: Treasurer - Graeme Hunter; Secretary - Hélène Walters-Steinberg; Events Coordinator - Jane Martin; CIOL Liaison - Sebastian Powers. Two committee members without portfolio were also elected - Peter Baron and Eleanor Bridgwood.
With all the formal business concluded the group had the chance to socialise over a delicious Chinese lunch, the star of which was a very orange sweet and sour fish dish which resembled some kind of fish-porcupine hybrid, but tasty all the same! All in all the group thoroughly enjoyed its first meeting, which can definitely be notched up as a success. It’s clear that the Midlands Network has a bright future ahead of it.
Michelle Doherty's enthusiasm and dedication have played a huge role in getting this new network off the ground. Sadly she leaves us to return home to Australia very soon. We thank her for her hard work and wish her well for the future.
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