commscampnorth faces: an absent friend emma rodgers

Emma Rodgers has been to every single commscamp event and all but one as co-organiser.

emmaShe’s taking a step back this time to concentrate on matters closer to home as her husband fights cancer. This is the reason why we’re raising money for MacMillan Cancer this year.

She’ll be missed but she’ll be with us in spirit.

Name: Emma Rodgers

Will you be at commscamp north in Bradford and what’s your excuse? I’m sad to say that I won’t be. My husband was guttingly diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of this year and we’ll be at the Christie hospital while he gets his 4th cycle of immunotherapy treatment for advanced kidney cancer.

This will be the first commscamp that I’ve missed.

Apart from the first one where I volunteered to help as a camp maker I’ve always been a co-organiser of commscamp – always with Dan Slee and then a group of others in the lovely commscamp family. It feels extremely weird and sad taking a back seat but I know people understand needs must.

Why choose Macmillan cancer relief for the commscamp charity?

My recent direct experience is that they provide an invaluable service – from research and clinical nurse specialists to signposting with clear information and guidance as well as on-line groups and forums, helping with understanding diagnosis or financial implications, the support they provide is second to none.

Cancer isn’t often spoken about and I’ve found myself that the language and tone used through the whole horrible thing is so important. Macmillan get this spot on. They are a brilliant charity and given cancer affects one in every two in the UK, I suspect they will touch most people at some point in their lives.

You do know you’ll be missed don’t you?

Everyone has been so lovely about me not being able to make it. From Dan to Bridget to Kate – otherwise know as Cake – Bentham and too many others to mention, it’s been a reminder of why commscamp is such a unique, sociable and brilliant learning experience. I feel really sad about not having it in my life this year.

Looking back at the unconferences you’ve been involved in organising, what’s your favourite memory?

There are so many to mention, it’s hard to narrow down. My favourite highlights in no particular order are having the best of laughs with people that often I only see once a year, mint choc aero tiffin made by the talented Kate Bentham, ice cream and conversation in the sunshine, pushing the lovely Sophie Davies around on a trolley in Sheffield which caused chaos and the unpredictable yet guaranteed tomfoolery that always comes from the end of day tat raffle. The collector’s Princess Diane mug and the 1980’s office in a carry case being just two of the best prizes on offer.

What advice do you have for new attendees?

Go with an open mind and be comforted that this is one of the friendlies ever communications event in the calendar. Commscamp is perfect for everyone  – whether you’re new to comms or an old face like me, no-one’s views matter more than anyone else’s and hierarchy is parked at the door. It’s also a cliché but you get out what you put in. Embrace it for the laid-back, truly inspirational event that it is and make as many new friends as you possibly can. So many relationships that I’ve build through commscamp are not only some of my greatest friends but also my go to people for communications advice when I need it. Finally, think about where you’re had a problem or a success and you’re up for sharing it with others so you can pitch it for a session. This is the most friendly environment to try something new and you’ll always be supported.

What advice would you give for the pre-social?

It’s a great way to meet new folks in advance and it’s a great laugh too. There’s a lovely sense of camaraderie as people share a few drinks, their stories and current stresses and successes. And the food is always yum. Hmmm I’m sensing a theme here.

Commscamp is always packed with the most delicious grub out.

Which is the best commscamp – Birmingham, Sheffield or Manchester?

I’m obviously biased with Birmingham as that’s where most of the commscamps have taken place. It’s normally great weather in Birmingham (yes I did say that) and the sunshine and setting are so fantastic, it feels like you’re on holiday, even though you’re learning shed loads. Generally though commscamp feels so ‘unconference’, that any location is brilliant.

Favourite cake?

It has to be hot chocolate fudge cake with ice cream melting on the top.

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