People in the world of healthcare technology are eagerly awaiting the arrival of ehi LIVE 2017 in just two day’s time, as the UK’s leading get-together for experts and users of digital healthcare gets ready at Hall 1 of the NEC Arena in Birmingham on the 31st October and 1st November 2017.
ehi LIVE, an event which aims to bridge the gap between medical technology, clinicians and their patients, is a yearly occurrence and is organised by international exhibitions agency Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions. ehi LIVE will look at key developments in the digital healthcare field, such as hospital record keeping, cybersecurity, healthcare innovations and new methods of bringing technology into patient-doctor interactions. The event also plays host to a special ‘Knowledge Hub’ which features experts in the fields of digital health and cyber security, offering their thoughts on the latest developments and concepts such as the cloud, wearables, informatics, ‘big data’ and social media, and how these can benefit patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare providers such as the NHS.
ehi LIVE will host nine individual conferences within the event, alongside an exhibition with a lineup of 150 companies and providers in healthcare. An expected total of more than 4,000 attendees are expected to visit the event over the two days. There will also be a late night drinks bash and an awards ceremony.
Key speakers taking the stand at ehi LIVE 2017 include Will Smart, the chief information officer of NHS England; Claire Murdoch, the National Mental Health Director, also from the English NHS, alongside their colleague Dr. Robert Varnam, head of general practice development. Also speaking will be Prof. Daniel Ray (data director and informatics professor at NHS Digital in Leeds) and Paul Park, a CCIO at Oxfordshire CCG. Exhibitors include Elsevier, Fujifilm, Hospedia, HP, IBM Watson Health and LG Electronics, among many others in household names and new entrants in the digital healthcare field.
DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is employed by Informa.
The Data Standards and Governance Conference, which is being scheduled for the 3rd November 2015 at Birmingham’s NEC Hall 1, will examine the issues of developing guidelines and standards for information exchange within the NHS and other health providers. The NHS holds millions of patient records, research information, study results and other significant quantities of medical data on different websites, databases and cloud services, and there are both legal and corporate protocols to be adhered to in ensuring the safety and integrity of that data.
As the NHS aims to become more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral, there is an increasing trend towards making the health service’s data more paperless. Alongside that, there is a greater emphasis on interoperability between the 15 NHS trusts, 3 foundation trusts, 16 social enterprises and over 8,000 GP practices that compose the NHS, according to figures from the NHS Confederation. The conference aims to address these issues in order for healthcare providers to adopt clear and governance initiatives to enable the safe, efficient exchange of patient data.
The conference will help attendees explore the challenges in developing standards for information exchange in the NHS as well as a look at the steps being taken to build patient trust for a patient centric health service. This is even more essential as the NHS experiences wave after wave of government cutbacks and internal reorganisation.
Likely conference topics will include the building of trust, patient and staff confidence through the system of information governance; creation of a patient-friendly data strategy, and the utilisation of open-source software in data governance to help reduce computing costs.
The event, which will last from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm on the first day of the EHI 2015 stream of conferences, will begin with a case study on the future of electronic patient information. This will be followed by topics on the ‘Code for Health’, working with Care.data pathfinder CCGs and the economics of open-source programs, along with a special presentation by key NHS ICT supplier Microsoft.
Guest expert speakers will include Malcolm Senior (director of informatics, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust), Shane Tickell (chief executive officer, IMS Maxims in Milton Keynes), Peter Coates (open source program head, NHS England) and Eve Roodhouse (programme director for Care.data, HSCIC) among others.
The Data Standards and Governance conference is one of several specialised events to be taking place at EHI 2015. Other planned events include the CCIO Annual Conference, the Health CIO Annual Conference and the HANDI Health Apps Conference, along with many other events focussing on diverse NHS technology discussions around 3D printing, big data and genomic medicine, health and social care, imaging informatics, NHS social media, cloud software and digital primary care services.
DISCLAIMER: The writer is an employee of Informa plc. which is the holding company of EHI Health, the organisers of the EHI 2015 conferences.
EHealth Media, a division of the conferences and training brand Informa, is hosting a special event for national specialists in healthcare ICT this October.
The EHI Awards is a flagship awards event within the healthcare IT calendar. This unique and well-subscribed event will bring together more than 700 information technology and clinical professionals from the National Health Service (NHS) along with suppliers of health ICT engaging their customers for a night of celebration, fun and networking.
The evening will be a celebration of the important work that people in IT and informatics help contribute to the running of British healthcare services and the vital role they maintain in enabling services and adding benefit to the NHS in particular. As the 21st century progresses, ICT and technology in general is playing an increasingly essential role to the day-to-day running of NHS front-line and administration services.
The awards will be hosted at a glamorous ballroom at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel, in the centre of London on the 1st October, 2015. There will be live entertainment from a big name comedian, plus a pre-dinner drinks reception on arrival, a three course dinner, a half a bottle of wine per person, mineral water, coffee, petit fours and late evening entertainment. Attendees can reach the Park Plaza very easily from Waterloo Station and Underground, a five-minute walk away, plus easy access to local buses and taxicabs. There will also be a dinner and music as part of the entertainment.
The categories under which awards will be handed over by a celebrity host are:
Interested parties should send in their entries by Friday 15 May at 4:00 pm at the latest. The event organiser also asks that potential awards nominees attend a judging day on Wednesday 15 July 2015 at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, in order to present to the awards judges there. The event nominations are open to any healthcare IT organisation of any size based in the UK. Entry to the competition is free but tickets for the night are to be paid for.
The EHI Awards 2015 are being organised by EHealth Media in conjunction with Informa Life Sciences, a fellow division of Informa plc engaged in the provision of events and training for experts in the fields of pharmaceutics, biomedicine, and other scientific industries. Category sponsors include Dell, CGI, Lexmark Healthcare, Intersystems, IMS Maxims and General Dynamics Health Solutions.
Employees of theLondonoffices of multinational conferences and events organisationInformaare being given a chance to get away from their office desks and meetings for a day and help volunteer with localcharitieshere in London to help those in greater need.
All Informa employees are offered an extra day off a year to use towardsvolunteeringwith a charitable organisation of their choice, and the company has partnered with several charities to offer volunteering experiences on afirst-come first-servedbasis to any employee interested in taking part.
Opportunity Number One is with the charity Providence Row, which provides warm and sustaining meals to homeless and vulnerable Londoners forced to spend their days on the streets. They tackle the root causes of homelessness to help people break the tough cycle of homelessness and access the services that will take them off the streets. Informa volunteers working with Providence Row will be assisting senior chef Marco at the charity’s Dellow Centre in Mile End to provide lunches to their clients. Lunchtime is one of the busiest times for Marco and his team of cooks and volunteers could serve as many as forty people needing a warm meal and a place to rest for a while. In addition, volunteers will be working alongside the chefs of the future. Marco also oversees several catering trainees working with Providence Row to develop their skills in the kitchen as well as people management.
Opportunity Two is with Malmesbury Primary School, also in Mile End. Volunteers who opt to work with the school will be helping plant flowers and shrubs in a new garden that Malmesbury is putting together to improve the play experiences of its pupils. At the moment, Malmesbury Primary School has only a few parents able to pitch in with their green fingers and spare time to renovate the garden. Volunteers at the school will not only be rewarded with making a difference to children, but there is also the added incentive of free tea and cakes after a long day’s pruning and planting.
The final opportunity is withTrinity Hospicein Balham, insouth London. The hospice, which provides services for those nearing the end of their lives, needs volunteers to assist them with stock and supplies in their office and warehouse, and this opportunity is ideal for anyone with experience or a desire to see what it is like to work in a retail or stocktaking environment. The hospice’s stock is high-value and collectable and much of it is donated by London designers and organisations and is brand new and given in bulk.
The large volume of donated items means Trinity Hospice is constantly on the go with its stock handling, and volunteers choosing this opportunity will have a very busy, active and hands-on experience. Possible tasks include researching and scanning books for sale on the e-retailer Amazon; organising and obtaining information and best prices for buyers interested in the company’s stock of fine antiques; listing pre-loved garments on Ebay; dressing mannequins; using special ‘turbo lister’ software to handle bulk sales; photographing items going on sale online, stocktaking; and helping keep the warehouse tidy and safe.
When: 16th July
Times: 10:00 – 16:00
Number of places: 10
The opportunities are only available toLondon-basedemployees ofInforma plc and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis with limited vacancies available per location.
Informa, a company specialising in conferences, seminars, training/further education and corporate events for a variety of sectors, has a company-wide corporate responsibility strategy aimed at producing a ‘win-win situation for(their) communities, environment, business objectives and employees. This includes diverse matters as employee training and improvement, helping local communities, ethical business practices and environmental awareness.
DISCLAIMER: The writer is an employee of the company mentioned in the above article.
“Volunteering Opportunities: New in!” – Jill Symes, Informa – Maple House (12 June 2015) corporate email.
The financial conference and events company ICBI, a division of multinational organisationInforma plc., will be launching its much awaited SuperReturn International event on the 22th to 25th February 2016, according to the official website hosted by ICBI.
The 19th Annual SuperReturn International, to be held at theInterContinental HotelinBerlin, will bring together more than 1,500 senior-level delegates from theprivate equityworld, representing over 350 powerfulLPfirms and 650+ private equity andventure capitalmanagers. The event will also feature a line-up of more than 250 industry heavyweight speakers well versed in the fields of investment andcapital growth, including many industry leaders and global investors.
The SuperReturn International event, part of the highly-respected SuperReturn and SuperInvestor series of financial events and summits managed by Informa, was first organised in 1998, and since then has gone from strength to strength, helping share valuable knowledge and investment strategies in the private equity field as it has grown from being a small ‘cottage industry‘ to a mainstream one in charge of billions of dollars of investments. Over the years, the SuperReturn International events, which are held yearly, have built up an enviable and formidable reputation as the world’s leading private equity and venture capital event, bringing top private equity performers, global leaders and industry trailblazers together every year to discuss the most pressing issues concerning their market. The event also offers valuable opportunities for networking and discussion among private equity leaders and executives. In 2014 alone, SuperReturn attracted over 1,500 delegates from all over the world.
The event is also famed for its high levels of current and topical debates in global private equity, without any editing, giving an unaltered and no-holds-barred experience of issues and hot topics on a multi-million dollar industry. It will also host two smaller events during the conference, the GermanPrivate EquitySummit and the Private Debt & Mezzanine Finance Summit alongside the set speakers and presentations, aimed at delegates looking to specialise in those aspects of investment.
SuperReturn is particularly aimed at a worldwide audience, including European andNorth Americanpension plans and family offices, Middle Easternsovereign wealth funds, global insurance companies, funds of funds investment houses, asset and wealth managers, DFIs and those involved with endowments and foundations. The event comes officially endorsed by private equity and venture capital associations fromPoland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, India and Canada.
Among the top delegates and speakers expected to attend SuperReturn include heavyweights such as long-time event veteran David Rubenstein ofThe Carlyle Group; Joe Baratta (The Blackstone Group); Kathleen Bacon (Harbourvest Partners); Mike Powell (USS) and professors from the universities of Oxford and Lausanne. One previous delegate,Kevin Albert, a partner at Pantheon, a leading internationalprivate equity fund-of-fundsmanager, commented that SuperReturn International was “the New York of conferences. It’s the biggest, it’s the best and it’s the one you want to make it at”. The event is also one of the most up-to-date in the field technologically, with delegates able to download brochures and attendee lists via the ICBI event website for SuperReturn, as well as read the event’s official blog, follow the Twitter account, view special programming on SuperReturn TV and organise meetings with other delegates and senior executives via the revolutionary new SuperReturn App and online networking platform.
While the SuperReturn International event has a global focus, there are also specialist events covering private equity leaders and investors in Asia, the United States, Africa, China, the Middle East and for companies in emerging markets.
2016’s SuperReturn International will be held at the InterContinental Hotel conference suite at Budapester Straße 2, 10787 Berlin, Germany on the 22-25 February. For more information visit http://www.icbi-superreturn.com/
DISCLAIMER: The writer is employed with Informa, of which ICBI is a subsidiary.
Multinational events and conferences company Informa is inviting its employees in the United Kingdom to participate in a special challenge this May to raise money for a young people’s charity.
The Informa ‘3 Peaks Challenge’ will see volunteer employees participate in a special mountaineering expedition, all in aid of a worthwhile charity, that will see them scale three of Britain’s tallest and most majestic mountain peaks. Would-be Edmund Hillarys and Tenzing Norgays will be able to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales; all in a space of only 24 hours. Ben Nevis will be the first to be climbed, before participants race across the UK mainland to climb England and Wales‘ tallest mountains with less than a weekend to complete the challenge.
The event is in aid of Informa’s charitable partner, the Prince’s Trust, which aims to give disadvantaged young people a new start in life with training for job opportunities and help in becoming self-made business entrepreneurs. In May, the peak time for expeditions, mountaineers will first travel via coach to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands from where they will tackle the snow-capped Ben Nevis, Scotland’s tallest mountain. After conquering Nevis, they will head south of the border to take on Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, situated deep within the picturesque Lake District national park. Then across to the wild lands of Wales where Snowdon is up next. The 3 Peaks Challenge has been described as a ‘tough event’ by its organisers and volunteers will have little time for sleep, the organisers warn. Participants are expected to have good levels of fitness and be able to persevere on minimal comfort and sleep, and are advised to follow a fitness plan before undertaking the trek, one of which will be sent out upon application or downloadable from the website of the tour company appointed by Informa to manage the 3 Peaks Challenge’s logistics.
As of January 2015, 22 Informa employees have signed up for the event, which is scheduled to take place over the weekend commencing Friday May 22nd and finishing on Sunday May 24th. The following Monday is a national bank holiday, so weary and sore 3 Peakers will be able to rest their feet and recuperate from the arduous, but fun, trekking journey through some of Britain’s most awe-inspiring natural scenery. The company is now in the process of encouraging more employees to take on this gruelling challenge and help transform young lives.
All guiding on the Three Peaks will be undertaken by experienced and trained mountain guides who know the local areas climbers will be visiting. The total horizontal distance covered via walking will be 42 kilometres, with a total of 3 kilometres vertically along with ten hours of driving time allocated between the climbing spots.
To take part, participants are asked to pay a registration fee of £99 and in addition, raise £650 (plus any additional amounts raised) for the Prince’s Trust. A complementary £99 will be added to your fundraising page by Informa. Participating staff will also receive an extra day of annual leave to complete the challenge. A minimum of £520 must be raised 10 weeks prior to departure. By getting on board now, participants will have 6 months’ training and fundraising prep time. Enlistment for the Informa 3 Peaks Challenge is via a special webpage hosted by the outdoors tour company Maximum Adventures or via the company’s intranet. The Challenge is only open to current employees of Informa plc. within the UK.
DISCLAIMER: I am a current employee of Informa and this article is based on an email from the corporate responsibility department. This is my way of showing pride for my place of work, and is not intended as a means of promotion for the company.
This article is dedicated to my dear friend and colleague Noor, who I have had the pleasure of working with for six years. He has now left the company to join a firm near west London as a database administrator. Noor has also been an occasional contributor for the Half-Eaten Mind. I wish him all the best in his new job.
Email from Fiona Gibson, Corporate Responsibility Executive at Informa.
Since my first article on the Informa indoor cricket tournament that I blogged about on the 5th August (GOOGLIES & DOOSRAS: The first ever Informa Cricket Championship), there have many changes and things had now crystallised. Our team for the match acquired a couple of extra players including our second female participant. We eventually somehow found an answer to our dilemma over the team name. Our boss, the database manager settled on ‘Jelly Daredevils’ (a jokey pun on the Indian Premier League team, Delhi Daredevils). I took a while to get this name right, and kept referring to ourselves as the Jelly Doughnuts for some strange, non-sugar-rush-related reason. Our first ever cricket team was rearing and ready to go, hopefully to turn our opponents’ legs into quivering jelly as we let fly our fury at the pitch boundaries. We weren’t going to be shaken by anyone…
Soon we got ready for the battle of bats and balls that would soon steamroll through our peaceful little existence on the 14th of September. A month of preparation took the Daredevils on regular trips to first Green Park, then Regent’s Park – both in central London. Our sojourns amongst the greenery of Her Majesty’s public gardens were an opportunity to hone and refine our batting and bowling skills. We blew away sixes that terrified squirrels and disturbed amorous couples trying to make the most of the late summer sunshine. There were plenty of boundaries to keep our fielders on their toes, as well as quite a few wides and no-balls. Surprises came thick and fast from a colleague named Jack, who initially tagged along to one of our training sessions, and then blew everyone away with his fast speed and brilliant bowling. The James brothers, Rohit and Rahul just kept on keeping our yellow and red tennis balls permanently suspended in mid-air, a feat also accomplished in devastating style by this article’s guest contributor Dewan. Jhumur and new member Yuri did the Informa database ladies proud and both really picked up the game well and got into the spirit of the team beautifully. I myself really improved too, my bowling became more finely-tuned, even helping get one unlucky guy stumped out and catching the ball deftly when it came and dropped down towards me from a great height, like a round red furry Scud missile. My confidence increased in leaps and bounds rather like those poor tennis balls.
We had a great time with the training sessions. We got some fresh air and some freedom from being chained to our desks. We supported and encouraged each other. We helped each other to improve. The JDD team became as tight as a close-knit cricketing family – close to the point where we even shared the deodorants. The dog-walkers and school children who shared the park with us at lunchtimes must have wondered what the hell was going on as balls tore like missiles through the air and loud cheers followed in their wake like sonic booms.
There were some downs too. Noor Malick, who helped organise the Jelly Daredevils and coordinated the training sessions in our early days, had to leave for India because of a family emergency. Then there was finding time for the training, very difficult when you have 37.5 hours of work to fit them around. Despite everything, we simply just pushed ahead and getting more improved. We knew in advance that some of the other fifteen teams who also entered into the Play on Sports tournament were semi-professionals who played on the Sunday League. We knew that these teams were probably made up of muscular steak-eating hunks who blasted sixes before some of the Jelly Daredevils were even potty-trained, but we were going to do our level best.
THE LINE-UP FOR THE INFORMA JELLY DAREDEVILS:
Team Captain: Dewan
Team (main players): Hany, Dewan, Rohit, Rahul, Shady, Jack and Mehfuz
Team (substitutes/part-timers): Vijay, Yuri and Jhumur
There were altogether 16 teams entered for the charity cricket match, some of them with very witty, if controversial, outfit names. Off the top of my head I remember:
The Singh Stars
Matthews Can’t Catch
The Cobbled Together TCC
Sons of Pitches
Adam Smith Bunnies
Bouncers & Blockers
Smack My Pitch Up
With the exception of the Adam Smith Bunnies, who were drawn from the Russian and Ukrainian conference sales part of the office, we had no real idea what the other teams would be like apart from the fact that a few were scarily good. We were walking in with our eyes closed, but our confidence was sky-high. We were not going to let sleepless nights and nervous jitters get us down.
The teams would be split into four groups who would bat and bowl against each other strictly in these groups. Those teams that won all their matches would progress to the semi-finals. Once there, the survivors would clash it out to see who would be crowned Informa cricket champions and receive the gallant honour of taking home one of those shiny gold mini-trophies, after feasting at a free celebratory buffet like ye olde gods of Valhalla.
First up against the Jelly Daredevils were the Adam Smith Bunnies. Despite their cutesy-cuddly team name, these guys were tough soldiers, raised in the grey streets of Moscow and lashed by the ice-cold Siberian winds – to be fair maybe some of them were actually as English as a cheese and cucumber sandwich, but I am trying to convey an atmosphere here. We had some experience with the Bunnies at our Regent’s Park training grounds and we managed to chase these rabbits back into their warrens. But this was no five-minute Bugs Bunny cartoon, rather something more sinister like the deranged General Woundwort of Watership Down. They knew our tactics and weaknesses and we needed to end this Cold War before we ended up as wet jelly and ice-cream.
The Adam Smith Bunnies tried very hard to keep up as ball after ball dropped into Shady’s open hands. They held it together nicely but braised (and bruised) rabbit was clearly dish-of-the-day on the Daredevil menu, as my team took it to a respectable 27 runs or so while the Bunnies were regularly stumped, bowled and caught out leaving them with a paltry minus 7 runs. With a target of below zero, we were already set to take on the Burners.
Dressed in black, the Bouncers were your typical well-built, highly experienced county cricketers, or so we thought. They were good, but we were better, at least in this match. They elected to bat after the toss and made 20 runs to keep things safe in the early playoffs. We responded with double that. Forty-five runs from a succession of master batsmen and numerous strikes down the boundary end helped quench the Bouncers’ fire.
Our last and expectedly most crucial match was against the mysterious Terminal 5. Not a ragtag bunch of baggage handlers from Heathrow but a dedicated and skilled collective of men who seemed to live and breathe cricket. Buoyed by the two previous victories, the Daredevils went in on a tide of high expectations and euphoria. The toss between the captains meant we were fielding first. But whereas we were supping tea and cream cakes in a teddy bear’s picnic as we demolished the Bunnies and Bouncers, this felt like the Blitz and Baghdad wrapped up in one. The screen above the umpire flashed FOUR and FIVE as balls whizzed up to where I was holding onto the net with trepidation. As hard as we tried, butterfingers set in and the Daredevils soon folded as Terminal 5 took the score to an eye-watering sixty runs. This seemed an impossible target to top, and indeed it was. Not even a wicket from one of my underarm bowls could make a dent in Terminal 5’s score tally.
I think it was the first time we were seeing minuses instead of double figures and we managed to at least bring the score to zero, with a little push from the last batting pair (me and Mehfuz) who despite myself being caught twice, made at least a handful of runs between us. We managed to save face.
The English novelist John Robert Fowles once said “Cricket remains … the game of games, the sans pareil, the great metaphor, the best marriage ever devised of mind and body… it remains the Proust of pastimes, the subtlest and most poetic, the most past- and-present; whose beauty can lie equally in days, in a whole, or in one tiny phrase, a blinding split second”. The Informa charity match certainly had this in buckets and spades and put us through a rollercoaster of emotions as we veered and tensed between victory and defeat. As Daredevils’ captain Dewan also noted post-match “at least we had fun that’s all and we did our best”, we played to our maximum best and it was a thoughtful, humbling but still exciting experience. Though defeat took away the prize, we enjoyed the cordial and humane spirit that cricket endows upon its players. Magnanimous in defeat and exuberant in victory, we gladly shook hands with the Terminals; congratulating them on a game well-played. We bonded as a team over pitchers of beer. Then later some of us commiserated over hot chai lattes and coffees courtesy of Dewan’s friend at Costa Canary Wharf. At the end of the day, it is not winning that counts, but the taking part. A team of different backgrounds and playing abilities, the Daredevils rose to the challenge and played their very best. We have learnt a great deal from the experience and come 2013, and come whatever may, I can honestly say that our humble team of database researchers can dare. Dare to win.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES: LoveToKnow Corp. / Your Dictionary.
As some of you may know, I currently work as a database researcher/integrity assistant for a conference company named Informa. In this job I work with and maintain our customers’ records on the in-house data system. From when I started in June 2007 up until last week, IIR Conferences Ltd, the Informa subsidiary which I personally am employed by, maintained an office situated at 29 Bressenden Place in Victoria, central London. It is well-known as a prime location, roughly equidistant between Victoria Underground Station and the tourist-and-camera honeypot that is the Queen of England’s residence – Buckingham Palace. It was a great location to work in as well. If you wanted a quick lunch, you had several options. Sandwich-lovers and salad-munchers could head around the corner to the Sainsbury’s Local supermarket in Allington Street, with its varied range of sandwiches, drinks, snacks, healthy-eating options, very much the stuff that you would expect a high street supermarket to have on its shelves. Cafe Moca, an Italian sandwich cafe, at the corner of Warwick Row had sumptuous chicken escalope and peri-peri poultry handmade baguettes and ciabattas. They were pricey but delectable. For Chinese, there was Noodle Noodle, with its customary fresh hot ramen and chicken in black bean sauce. There was two shopping centres in the vicinity of my office, an Argos and five pubs within easy walking distance, not to mention a theatre that had Billy Elliott on constant loop….
But alas, while Victoria was ‘Location, Location, Location’ and a socialising and eating heaven for local desk jockeys, all good stories must have an end…we are moving to a new office!.
For the past three years, the streets around Bressenden Place have been transformed into a massive building site, coinciding with the extension of the nearby Tube station. The current station terminus is a departure point for many millions of tourists visiting every year. The crowds at rush-hour become so thick that it gets ridiculous. Ridiculous to the point that overcrowding often partially shuts down Victoria station as burly LU transport guards and a loud beeping alarm keep annoyed commuters in almost-perpetual agony as they queue past the bus stop, around the block and all the way into the middle of next week. The builders in their dusty day-glo orange jackets soon made their mark, as their firm Keltray tore down a couple of nearby buildings with diggers and other earthmoving equipment. London Underground’s £509 million upgrade to increase the capacity of the Tube station was fully underway. By 2015, there will an enlarged Victoria Tube with a new ticket hall, lifts and escalators to cope with the never-ending stream of sightseers, not to mention London City’s growing population. By 2016 it is estimated that our city’s Tube network will carry up to 3.4 million passengers daily.
The numerous conversations, keyboard tinkling and mouse clicks in our office soon had to compete with a whole new set of noises. Construction staff shouting at each other, the rumbling of trucks and diggers, and weird thudding sounds. We even had tremors. Not quite Californian style ‘The Big One’ tremors, but if you kept your feet firmly on the floor at your desk and slouched a little, you could feel the shakes run up your spine in an unsettling manner. If you ever saw the scene in the first Jurassic Park movie where the Tyrannosaurus escapes from its enclosure, and you hear its feet stomping on the road while the glass of water in the kids’ jeep starts to ripple, you will get a good idea. Whenever I and my friend/colleague went out to the Sainsbury’s to get lunch, we always had to dodge an army of builders in garish flourescent jackets while negotiating our path through the rabbit’s warren of mesh fencing and Health & Safety notices, while a) not choking to death on the dust, and b) not slipping on the mud and cracking our heads open on the now-chewed up pavement.
It was maybe a year past that us guys at Informa, as well as the other firms sharing our office block at Number 29 were told that soon we would be hunting for a new place to plug in our PC monitors. An email from human resources announced that by September this year we would be either relocating either to Euston or Tottenham Court Road, as 29 Bressenden Place would also taste the wrecking ball as part of Victoria’s regeneration. By March , we knew for certainty that we were definitely going Tottenham Court way. And last week was our final week at good old Bressenden as we readied ourselves to up sticks to the swanky brand-new digs at Maple House, 149 Tottenham Court Road.
Ever since I started as a fresh-faced, somewhat penniless database researcher in the dying days of summer 2007, Bressenden Place eventually grew on me. It was a love-hate relationship though. The offices were very much a typical slice of corporate Britain with their pea-green and blue carpetting, strip lights, and kitchens stocked with the latest in microwave and hot-water technology. The kitchens were great because you had four fridges (three for workers’ lunches, one for milk) so you rarely had worry about your home-cooked pasta or ciabatta going off. You could go there to engage in some water cooler talk with your mates and there was always (usually) fresh milk, tea and two kinds of coffee, all wonderfully free of charge. It was hardly necessary to have the skills of Indiana Jones to find your way around the office – getting from A to B – it was just a case of walking down the corridor.
At the same time, this was an old office block. By the time it is demolished, Bressenden Place will have completed a full half-century. One of the biggest gripes we had with the building was that everything kept breaking down. The lifts (elevators) were particularly annoying in this respect. It was a real crap start to the working week, when on Monday you would saunter past the lone security guard, flash your identity card and glide towards the lift only to find the doors prised wide open with a sign positioned in front….”The lifts are currently out of order and an engineer has been called. We apologise for any inconvenience”. Some inconvenience it was. I worked on the sixth floor and seven or so flights of stairs at 8:30 in the morning is not my idea of fun. Kitchen appliances also had the nerve of developing electrical complaints too. I have lost count of the number of times the fridge, water cooler or the hot water dispenser would give up in protest at being constantly tugged at or opened by people needing a quick coffee fix. Numerous times our kitchen even had leaks. I will never forget the surprise of a month ago when first thing in the morning, I walked into the kitchen to find not only was there a preposterous quantity of water splashed on the floor (the new hot water machine has broken down and dribbled), but that someone, in an attempt to soak up the carnage, had left a pile of kitchen roll sheets all over the spillage. I commented later on my Facebook that it looked as if though several Andrex puppies had instigated a break of dawn foam party in there.
In the Sixties, global warming was not front page news and London was a chilly place. Not surprisingly, our office had no air-conditioning. So, when summer arrived, parts of Floor 6 became a sweaty sauna with Dell screens, forcing everyone to turn on their desk fans to the ‘hurricane’ setting as we tried to stave off the dreaded armpit stains. It was unbelievably stuffy and humid in there, and was off-putting to work in. The offices at Maple House conversely have a modern layout/decor, built-in air-con, floor to ceiling windows, four lifts, 24-hour security and showers. There is even a garden to imbibe some fresh air or to escape the boss’ ire after flunking yet another deadline.
Good or bad, Bressenden Place was my place of work and I have spent the largest chunk of my working life there. There were too many great memories…lunches at Nandos and Zizzi’s, after-work drinks at the Willow Walk, cricket practice at Green Park, tourists asking for directions, even being evacuated as the fire brigade tackled a toaster fire in a hotel kitchen in the same block as our offices.
THE LAST DAY
Our last day at the old workplace began as per usual. We had been given stickers issued by a third-party removal company on which had to be written our names and a 3-digit number. This very special set of numerals corresponded to our locations in the new building’s floor layout. The removal company ordained that everything that was not nailed to the floor had to be tagged with these stickers. I was spotting these labels on everything from the fire extinguishers in the corridors to colleagues’ computer mice. Next to every set of desks was a huge stack of crates, one for each employee. I must have felt like some sort of office-bound Godzilla walking past rows of container skyscrapers. Our management was very kind to give us half the day off, so that the IT people could start unwinding the network and begin boxing up all the monitors, wires and such. Soon the database research and integrity departments were in a frenzy of packing, clearing out desks and filling the heavy grey-and-red crates that will greet us at Maple House. Most of us just had the pens and paperwork we needed for the job, so our packing did not take more than 1/2 an hour at most. By 12 noon we were done, the PCs were switched off and we hung around reminiscing about the good old days, sharing memories and wondering about who was sitting next to who. A few of my friends expected me to break down into floods of tears, but I am made of sterner stuff. Nevertheless, after more than five years based out of here, it was slightly sad, maybe poignant. It felt somewhat humbling that everything around me would soon be crushed underfoot, petty insignificant rubble beneath the tracks of a Caterpillar. It is difficult to let an old friend go, even if its corridors stank of fish or burnt oatmeal half the time. Even if its men’s toilets often seized up. Even if the windows looked ready to fall out at short notice.
For a celebratory lunch, most of the department headed to Nandos at the Carpenter’s Road shopping mall, where Afro-Portuguese peri-peri dishes were devoured in abundance. I made a departure from my usual chicken burger special and went a little upmarket with a chicken breast pitta with salad and cheese, accompanied by a side order of chips and a bottomless Coke. Damn tasty. I worked off the spare calories in Green Park doing ten minutes of batting with members of our departmental cricket team before heading home to a long lazy August bank holiday weekend.
THE STORY BEHIND BRESSENDEN PLACE
The office block we were based in is located in the City of Westminster in London’s heart. At a height of ten or so stories, the L-shaped building was not only home to my employers IIR Conferences, but also other members of the Informa family, such as PTI, Informa Life Sciences, Adam Smith Conferences and TOC Europe – companies which specialised in conferences and seminars offering knowledge in fields as diverse as pharmaceuticals, shipping and finance with several thousand clients on their books. The complex was also occupied by several companies allied with the NHS, a consultancy firm, Hyder, and partially by the neighbouring Thistle Westminster Hotel.
The building is currently owned and rented out by Land Securities, a commercial property landowner which has assets of more than 29 million square metres in built estate, including offices, shops and housing. The office block of 29 Bressenden Place was built on what was once the bed of the Tyburn River many centuries ago. A brewery, now replaced by the Stag public house was a neighbour of the former tenements that occupied Number 29’s current location. During the period from 1959-1964, the Stag Brewery was pulled down as the post-war building effort of the Sixties went into full momentum. The main building, Lakeview Court, as well as the Thistle hotel were designed by architects Chapman Taylor Partners towards the close of the 1960’s.
It is most likely that the buildings of Bressenden including our office block will come down by next year, and once they are gone, will be replaced by a new mixed-use development, comprising residential, retail and hotel elements, according to an archaeological impact assessment by Westminster city council.
Below is a selection of photos I took of inside & outside our offices – including the lunch at Nandos and when I passed Buckingham Palace.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES: Transport for London, Land Securities Group, City of Westminster Council, Museum of London Archaeological Service (full PDF archaeological impact assessment viewable here), 149 Tottenham Court Road official website.
For my day job I work as a data integrity assistant for a conferencing, events and training company called Informa plc, one of the world’s largest market share holders in this industry. I originally started out about five years ago as a database researcher for one of Informa’s subsidiaries, IIR Conferences Ltd (once a separate company which was merged into Informa several years ago). The database department guys are a really cool, chatty and lively bunch, and I practically consider them a second family. When you have been working in the same company and even the same office for such a long time, you become ‘part of the furniture’ and you make a lot of friends.
As part of my employer’s worker engagement policy and corporate responsibility initiative, staff get a lot of little bonuses and benefits. It varies from department to department, but in the database division, we have every year a paintballing trip and also a company-wide football tournament which is well received and gets most of the guys here excited. I am not as good at playing football like I was in my youth, and paintballing, while it appeals to the Call of Duty buzzkill psycho in me, is not really my cup of tea. I’m not generally up for bruises, welts and paint stains. For some reason, I am usually iffy about participating in corporate events. It just feels a bit, well, cheesy and brown-nosing. And our department’s football team, though they try their level best, are always ripped to shreds by the more experienced opponents.
Well, something changed all that. Last week my Outlook inbox took receipt of an ‘attention-all-staff’ email circular from none other than our company’s chief executive, who enjoys a comfortable tax-free existence in Switzerland. Informa, it cheerily announced, was to host its first everindoor cricket championship. The gentleman’s pastime of lush green pitches and leather striking against willow was going to get the Informa treatment. The tournament is going to be held annually, and this year it will take place on the 14th of September here in London. The venue is the Play on Sport indoor arena (100 Preston’s Road, Wood Wharf Business Park, Wood Wharf, London E14 9SB – http://www.playonsports.co.uk/), which has around 3000 square metres of playing space for indoor cricket and net sports like tennis. There’s also facilities included, such as a bar, and a small eaterie. Batting and smashing boundaries does make for a hungry and thirsty cricketer!. All the kit and paraphernalia our teams will need is supplied by the venue, so at least I won’t have to spend several frantic hours and a large portion of my salary trying to purchase bats, helmet, shinpads, cricket whites etc etc from Ebay/Amazon/Ian Botham.
Indoor cricket is slightly different from the outdoor version. We can only have ten players, as opposed to the 11 you would find in a Test match, for example. All players, apart from substitutes, must both bowl and bat. Unlike outside cricket, you supposedly cannot get bowled or run out, you simply have runs (points) deducted from your team’s score. I will have to get acquainted with the rest of the rules soon.
Apart from being a good day of fun and exercise (which I badly need), the cricket championship is in aid of charity. Each squad needs to submit a one-off flat payment of £50 to the tournament organiser. All monies collected are for the World Cancer Research Fund (http://www.wcrf-uk.org/) to help them in their goal to research and find cures for this twisted illness. The donation is made online, and this also applies to the squad entry forms and such formalities. Unfortunately, dear Brainiacs, being a company tournament, it’s only open solely to employees of Informa businesses. Sorry.
Upon immediate receipt of the Email, I adjusted my monitor to show it to Noor, my colleague, desk neighbour and very good mate. Noor is from India, where the population is extremely fanatical about cricket, like how Britons consider football their national religion, or how Americans fill out Superbowl stadia to choking point. He lives and breathes cricket. Watches it online, reads about it, plays it. After digested the email, his eyes went uncomfortably wide and within five minutes, he took on the position of team captain with precision and military fervour. He began calling on some of the other cricket fans in our part of the office, convincing potential players and enlisting his troops. Even I, who had hardly played any real sport since my PE lessons in secondary school, was swept along with the buzz.
I was a little worried, and still am about my playing ability though. It has been ages since I last held a cricket bat, and that was only an informal session with some mates at the local park. I had not even watched any televised matches since the World Cup of 2011. Fortunately my niece of nearly 3 years of age gave me substantial catching practice every time she decided to lug one of her milk bottles/toys/trainers at me (thanks Nye-Nye). My many years of beers, and a kebab-infused high carbohydrate diet had not completely taken my almost gazelle-like running speed, and as far as I am aware, I may still have a dangerous overarm bowling technique. Just about. Confidence is the key to winning though, and as we have very few people in our department who understand the rules of cricket – with only a handful of all mixed ability players, I was fine with throwing my weight behind the new squad.
A squad with no name, as of yet. While the Indian Premier League (the FA Cup of Twenty20 cricket) has inspiring ‘go get-’em team names like the Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings, our team needed a name that could not only sound formidable, but keep us working together and united under a common banner. There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, as coaches always helpfully point out. Me and Noor did a little brainstorming to find a decent enough name. One suggestion from Jhumur, the only female in our outfit, got shelved by the captain because it did not do it for him. She suggested ‘Informa Super Kings’ like the Chennai Super Kings (her favourite team). Another team member, Rohit, offered up the moniker ‘Tendulkar Re-Ignited’ after the legend that is Sachin. That could work.
Here are the possible names we have as of today’s article publish date. Noor has put me in charge of coming up with some more names, me being creative at that sort of thing. So far we have:
1. Balls of Fury(a suggestion by Rohit)
2. Boundary Killers (my one)
3.Chicken Chasers(my one as well; in honour of Aveer, who is always one to harass hens lol)
4. Knight Riders (as in a certain team from West Bengal, but for some reason I keep thinking of a young, leather jacketted David Hasselhoff and some talking car or whatever)
5. The Wicketmen (my suggestion, an influence from the old British occult film ‘The Wicker Man’ – tres sinister)
6. The Cricketers of Chaos(mine as well, we probably expect to obliterate a few windows or opponents with our sixers, either that or our final score will be so low it will look like it had been tallied up by an umpire from the darkest depths of cricketing Hell)
7. Let’s Play Baseball(from Rohit, perfect for confusing the other teams and throwing them off their game)
8. Tendulkar Re-Ignited (see paragraph above)
The make-up of our team is as follows:
TEAM CAPTAIN: Noor
MAIN PLAYERS: Vijay (me), Rohit, Rahul, Ashley, Mehfuz, Hany, Dewan
SUBSTITUTES: Aveer, Jhumur
POSSIBILITIES: Carol, Sunny, Shady
However, the team lineup could at this early stage still change, you know if someone gets sick, changes their mind or gets fired, but this is how it is shaping up.
With only about five weeks to go before the first ball is bowled at Poplar, we are hurriedly trying to arrange training sessions, scrape the money together and get everyone and everything on side so we can stand with pride at the trophy presentation and say that we made both ourselves and our company achievers. But worse comes to worse, we are having a buffet after the match, so we can drown out our sorrows with sparkling mineral water and reheated chips. Still, at the end of the day, it is not the winning that matters, it is the taking part 🙂