For the 200 delegates, it was a chance to network, meet old friends and make new connections in the world of speech and language therapy.
For the visiting MPs and Ministers, it was a chance to see what the Hello campaign is all about and to meet people who work with children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
But most importantly, it was a chance for The Communication Trust to say a huge thank you to everyone who had supported the event, produced resources and generally raised the profile of the issue.
Event sponsor Annette Brooke MP hit the nail on the head when she said the purpose of the event was celebration. She said: “I was excited by what would happen during the year and the Hello campaign has been an amazing success. So many children were missing out on achieving their full potential in life for a host of reasons. We are here to highlight and celebrate the amazing work that has gone on and I would like to congratulate all the people involved in that.”
The highlight of the event was a presentation by 18-year-old Ben Morfey from Plymouth. Ben has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cannot speak, but gave his presentation with the aid of the electronic communication aid which he uses to speak. He explained about his life, how he enjoys sending text messages to his family and attending Dame Hannah Rogers School for children with physical and learning difficulties.
Communication Champion Jean Gross spoke about the events she has toured the country to visit. This began in February when she found herself in Sheffield city centre with the Lord Mayor, Director of Children’s Services, the elected member for Children, children and their parents doing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ for the Chatterbox Challenge World Record attempt.
Children and Families Minister Sarah Teather MP told the gathering she had tried to make speech, language and communication needs a core policy. She said: “An enormous amount has been achieved by people in this room, laying the building blocks for work we can do in future.”
There are just two months left in the national year of communication but many changes have been made in the world of speech, language and communication and the Trust will be planning how to make Hello’s legacy long-lasting.
For more information about the remaining themes of Hello visit our website www.hello.org.uk