In January we made the decision to move #srocks19 to Brighton Hill Community School, Basingstoke. On visiting, there is a wonderful sense of camaraderie and “can do” attitude from everyone at the school. From IT, to finance, to Headteacher, Chris Edwards himself. The school have been nothing short of sensational.
Friday 1.1.19 the school was closed due to snow. Starting before dawn, by 1pm, the site team had cleared the main entrance, paths and parking bays.
330 chairs were laid out, projection and audio tested, staging moved the main hall, signage posted, lanyards prepared, chillers filled, pastries and coffee prepared… we were hopeful.
2pm the snow started to fall, again. We discussed and put in place a contingency plan which included booking one of the team into the local Travel Lodge half a mile up the road, starting the clearance AGAIN at 5am, for a site assessment at 6:30am (I had to get over from Hindhead). We shared a message that “appropriate clothing and footwear would be required.” We were concern, but hopeful.
The snow continued to fall and settle. By 3pm it was clear there would be work to do in the morning. We remained vigilant, if defiant, determined even, as I left to meet the speakers and sponsors over at The Devils Punchbowl Hotel, Hindhead, where most of us were booked in for the night. Some were going straight to Basingstoke Travel Lodge. We were more concerned, but cautiously hopeful.
By the time I arrived around in Hindhead at around 5pm the snow was falling persistently for a few hours and messages from speakers regarding amended travel plans were becoming all to regular. Some speakers choosing to “hold-off travelling” others choosing to “hunker down,” a few “turning back” and others “battling on.” There was a real spirit and commitment to the cause that is hard to explain. A rescue mission was sent out to retrieve Chris Dyson and Lisa Coe (@Elsie2110) from Haslemere train station and reports of slow traffic in an around the area meant speakers were delayed even further. Others had to be even more patient making their way into Basingstoke. BBC Radio 2 advising travellers to avoid Basingstoke.
Travel weary speakers and sponsors slowly arrived. We were checking weather reports regularly. Plans set for an early start and a detoured journey to Basingstoke via the A3, M25, M3 and David would manage communications and look after speakers at the Hotel.
Early to bed, early to rise. The main road were clear, free flowing and safe.
As I headed over I was… very positive. Little did I know, the Brighton Hill Community School premises team were finding it difficult getting to school, then accessing the school site, until I called as agreed at 6am.
Given that the motorways were completely clear, I was shocked by the poor state of the Basingstoke roads and the lack of any gritting vehicles whatsoever. Abandoned cars were a worrying sign. As I approached the school, slowly, it was clear that driving conditions were dangerous. Road markings were obscured. As one of only a few vehicles on the road, I could choose my approach. What would it be like at around 8am when attendees started arriving?
The front entrance to the school was still covered by a few inches of snow drift. Turning into school was tricky. Inside the schools grounds, substantial progress had been made clearing the snow however, I learnt that ploughed snow takes up a lot of parking space. Especially this much snow. I had arrived but could we ensure attendees safety getting here when the roads were busier? You already know the answer.
Update: The roads are treated and drivable apart from the final 2 miles @KristianStill is on site @BrightonHillSch. After a long conversation we have made the difficult decision to CANCEL (should read postpone) the event. Apologies to those who have already travelled – please stay safe.
After decommissioning the main hall, I did an hours gate duty 9-10am during which I personally met and thanked just a handful of very understanding attendees or speakers that had missed the emails and tweets. Thank you so much for tempering your disappointment with support and kindness. To the DHT teacher in the red car – your smile and understanding was a priceless to me at that point in the morning.
Now the story doesn’t end there.
We had the Dyson and Povey – “The return up north” showing throughout the day, spawning a handful of replies and session reflections. Brilliant! Can you believe the series has over 40,000 views! It start’s here…
We have received quite literally hundreds of messages for support and encouragement, that only make us more determined, to see #srocks19 realised. We have a few logistics to sort out. A few favours to call in. Expect us to be back! #goagain
I have tried to respond to the many personal and private messages. It took a while and if I missed you – I am sorry. I am thanking you all here. You are all #mykindofpeople.
Can I again thank Brighton Hill School. Leah, Chris and Caroline. Our sponsors, OnvuLearning, Calls9 and Lexonik. It was lovely hearing more about Lexonik Katy, helping learners read, aged 8-58. It reminded me not to overlook the different settings in which people learn to read. Thank you Scintilla, Telios Education, Derventio Education and the acknowledge the support of Dylan’s Ice-Cream, EverythingBranded, CaterKwik and Chef Gary. All the speakers and social media agitators, every teacher that supported the event – we may need you all back sooner than #srocks20. To the teacher comedy duo – Povey and Dyson… may the final words be yours.
What an adventure! We met, we saw…and we didn’t quite do the conference but we caught up with amazing people that literally create tomorrow’s world. What a buzz! Drew Povey and Chris Dyson