AIO Conference Cardiff 2016
An ambitious event!!!
The AIO Conference in Cardiff on 9th and 10th October 2016 was an ambitious event with a number of different activity streams running at the same time. Aside from the lecture programme there was a special event for aspiring independents, a programme for students from the local School of Optometry at Cardiff University and a whole range of different CET workshops. Throw in a varied agenda covering more general optical matters and ‘in practice’ subjects on Monday and there was really something for everybody at this year’s Conference. There was of course also the great social programme for which AIO events have become famous, culminating in the 60th Anniversary Gala dinner.
With the support of a great range of sponsors offering a wide range of products and services, the exhibition area was buzzing throughout. For the first time, the exhibition covered both days of the event and this proved very worthwhile as the stands were busy on Monday as well as Sunday.
The feedback from delegates has been very positive and the statistics speak for themselves in terms of CET points awarded. There were 26 CET qualifying lectures and workshops on a very wide range of subjects and 807 points were awarded in aggregate to the delegates – easily a record for an AIO event. In particular the high number of qualifying lectures and workshops for Dispensing Opticians was very favourably commented on by those present.
Whilst we would have liked to see a few more delegates for the Aspiring Independents event, this will become a regular feature of future Conferences and we are confident that we can build on the attendance at the 2017 Conference in Cambridge.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the Conference was the special programme for students from Cardiff University. It was great to have the opportunity to showcase the benefits of Independent practices to the professionals of tomorrow. Comments by the students afterwards on social media made it clear that not only had they greatly enjoyed the Conference but that their eyes had been opened as to what Independent practice has to offer.
It must be recorded that Cardiff proved to be an excellent location for the Conference and The Vale Resort took great care of us in the wonderful setting that it enjoys. The hospitality was excellent, the welcome and involvement from the profession in Wales first class, and the presentation by Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Cabinet Minister for Health, Sport and Well Being was perhaps the highlight of the Conference. The first foray by AIO into Wales can be considered an unqualified success, and it is fair to say that an ambitious event came off!