Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Sage is the place to be on 16 November

It seems as though five minutes ago Relu's "Who should run the countryside" was months away but suddenly we have barely two weeks to go. No need to panic though, or so I keep telling myself. Bookings are high, and we are still taking some last minute applications, the debate and workshop speakers are all organised and briefed, the Relu projects are poised to wow the delegates with their interactive activities, our film makers at Xube have the films in hand and we aim to try them out on the big screen the week before the premier to make sure all the technical stuff is ok. The Relu Awards themselves are safely in my office but I'm keeping those under wraps for now. Suffice it to say that they are amazing.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Stars in our eyes

As autumn creeps in, and Halloween masks appear in shop windows, our conference seems scarily close. Assistant Director Jeremy Phillipson and I have spent this morning with the crew from Xube who are making films to show at The Sage on 16 November. They have been meeting up with the teams shortlisted in the Relu Awards and filming the projects, the teams and their stakeholders. Delegates will be able to view the results as part of the conference programme, and vote for the overall winners. It's our version of the "X Factor" so we are taking it very seriously. From what I have seen, the footage looks great and I think it will be hard to choose between the entries. But we have also commissioned a 10 minute film which will include brief vignettes of the finalists, and an overview of Relu's achievements. This will feature comments from some high profile stakeholders to the Relu programme, and from the team at the Director's Office. Jeremy agonised a bit about whether this was an occasion which demanded the wearing of a tie, and I thought that there might be a make-up lady to run on at intervals with a powder puff, but, apart from some fiddling about to reduce the reflection from our spectacles, nobody seemed very bothered about how we looked. Which is probably just as well. I'm not sure Jeremy and I can compete with Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole.

Monday, 3 October 2011

No more caveat emptor!

Hitting both Farmers' Weekly and Farmers' Guardian last Friday with a story from Relu researchers ( does feel like a small triumph. Graham Medley and his interdisciplinary team from Warwick University have been investigating endemic disease in livestock - those conditions that don't usually make headlines but do affect farmers' profits and animal welfare. They conclude that making more information available to livestock buyers about risks in the herd from which they are buying could be an important means of reducing disease. Obviously the price would reduce for animals from a herd with a poor disease record, which could provide the incentive needed for farmers to get to grips with the problems. It will be interesting to see whether this stimulates some debate among the readers of the farming press.