Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Camera, Action!

Filming has now started for the Relu Awards films. Richard from Xube, the company producing the films has been keeping me updated on their progress and it all sounds very exciting. I am delighted that the finalists have found so many people willing to strut their stuff on camera - both researchers and stakeholders - and they have been braving the rain to keep up with the filming schedule. It sounds as though the films will do them justice and I'm looking forward to seeing the results. Richard has asked me whether I would like to go and see them at work and it's certainly tempting. Watching the professionals in action is fascinating. TV companies are always looking for locations and seem particularly keen on using hospitals so I had several opportunities to watch film crews in action during the time I spent in NHS communications. That included a couple of weeks when one production company was making making an episode of "Wire in the Blood" at the hospital where I was based. But I'm sure none of our researchers would play the big star in quite the same way as Robson Green. Fortunately.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Academic and communicator

Relu has lured many brilliant academics into its interdisciplinary fold but Gareth Edwards-Jones must count as being among the most memorable. He was keen to talk about his research and bring it to a wider audience and, for me, as communciations manager, that was a great bonus. He treated his performances lightly, and often referred to himself as "The Media Tart" but his ability to speak with authority and enthusiasm gave his research an added dimension. He made a difference to the world and we will all miss him.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Fighting alien algae

It's difficult to imagine how blue-green toxic algae "blooming" on a lovely lake like Loweswater can have a positive side - unless you are a science fiction writer looking for inspiration. It looks pretty sinister and it's certainly bad for the tourist industry that provides many residents with a livelihood. But adversity often bring human beings together in common endeavour, and that doesn't have to be about fighting off extra-terrestrials. Relu's Community Approach to Catchment Management project has put this tendency to good use. Concerns about the algae prompted the suggestion that farming in the catchment might be to blame and it was farmers themselves who took the initiative and got together to see what could be done. When scientists became involved they were able to bring an additional dimension to the work, but the residents themselves have continued to be equal partners in the group that has come to be known as "The Loweswater Care Project". They would not claim that the algae have been defeated yet - that looks like a much longer term ambition. But they have learned to work together to improve their local environment in a way that could prove to be an important model for future community environmental projects. And they have managed it without any help from Dr Who - or so they claim. Relu Policy and Practice Note no 32