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The recent Annual Conference in the South West marked the end of my first year in the job as Regional Programme Manager for the region.  It has been an enjoyable year - meeting many fascinating Fellows, working with them on projects and covering a lot of miles!

This year’s annual conference took place in Taunton, where we welcomed the RSA’s new Chair, Vikki Heywood - who shared the Trustee Boards current thinking and took questions from the floor.  There were also a series of workshops which gave Fellows an overview of different areas of activity and opportunities of getting involved.  A Fellows eye view of the conference is posted below, a blog written by Kate McCormick FRSA, which she has kindly let me re-post here –

I spent Saturday at the RSA South West conference in Taunton.  I’ve been a Fellow of the RSA for more than twenty years, have used ‘The House’ in John Adams Street as my London office to hold meetings with clients; dined in the elegant restaurant in the vaults; and listened to interesting lectures in the state rooms, including a memorable one by management guru, Charles Handy. And, like millions of others, I have marvelled at, been entertained by and educated by the Animate presentations, (developed by the RSA with Cognitive Media), particularly the brilliant discussion on Changing Education Paradigms from Sir Ken Robinson. If you've ever thought there was something wrong with how we educate our kids (and who hasn't at some point?), then do take a look at this presentation next time you have a spare 10 minutes.

Vikki AC

 But until now, I haven’t managed to really get a handle on what the organisation does — or why I am involved in it. At the conference we met the new Chairman of the RSA, Vikki Heywood, who gave me exactly what I was hoping for. In addition to the strapline, I now have an elevator speech I can remember: enriching society with ideas and action. The RSA is the only organisation with which I’ve been involved which doesn’t really provide benefits for the members; it’s more a case of what the members can do for others. And yes, I know there are lots of other organisations which have the same focus, from Rotary and Round Table to the Mothers’ Union, but this is the only one to which I have belonged. So it's nice to finally understand what it's all about.

Vikki Heywood, who gave me exactly what I was hoping for. In addition to the strapline, I now have an elevator speech I can remember: enriching society with ideas and action


One RSA project which is dear to my heart as a former production manager is Great Recovery . The idea is to work with designers and manufacturers to develop products which at the end of their life-cycle can either be repaired (remember when we used to repair things that broke, rather than throwing them away?) or recycled. Someone described it as ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach to manufacturing, rather than ‘Cradle to Grave’. In a week where we have just bought a new printer and discovered a full set of replacement ink cartridges is more or less the same price as a new printer (complete with cartridges), this is music to my ears.

One of the perennial problems for any organisation of people from disparate locations is how to communicate effectively. Our region covers the three counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset and we only get together physically once or twice a year. Someone suggested we might use Twitter to hold regular discussions or get-togethers. Putting aside the fact that many of the people in the room are not Tweeps and have no wish to be, this raised the question in my mind, and not for the first time, what is Twitter for? Do we use it effectively? And is it really an appropriate medium for bringing large groups of people together? blog continues here

We are looking at ways of communicating across the region and have recently set up a South West Group on the RSA’s social network – please sign up.  In terms of Twitter I have pulled together a storify, which is a series of tweets that were tweeted throughout the conference, example below.

— Redfront (@redfront) September 14, 2013

I’ll leave the last words to Nick Parker, Regional Chair, who I would like to thank for all the hard work he has put into the region over the past year -

Thank you all for taking the time to join us in Taunton. I hope the content was interesting and the networking useful. Early feedback suggests we achieved both .We have a lot of exciting opportunities across the region, including

  • Strategic leadership support and challenge in Cornwall
  • Developing a theatres and performance network in Exeter
  • Supporting the link with Petroc College in North Devon
  • Supporting the national ReMake programmeProviding challenge for a strategic social enterprise funding initiative
  • Community outreach
  • Thought leadership
  • Education
  • Networking
  • Supporting local debates and local networking

 And much more. Please contact me or your local network lead if you would like to get involved. Meanwhile, any comment or feedback on the conference or matters discussed there will be gratefully received." Contact Nick via email,



Lou Matter is the Programme Manager for West and South West. You can follow her @loumatter 


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