Thank You to Our SCBWI Conference Organisers!

The SCBWI 2016 conference in Winchester is over, and the participants wending their way home were met with brutal reality in the form of an M3 closure and rail replacement buses; but the happy afterglow persists and most of us took away a warm and fuzzy feeling after a weekend of inspiration, congratulation and friendships old and new with fellow writers and illustrators, speakers, editors, and agents.

A huge thank you to the organisers of this year’s conference!

Every one of them is a VOLUNTEER!

Especially big thanks go out to Becky Tudor and George Kirk, who as co-chairs woman-handled the conference into shape– with the help of their capable conference team members, of course! Once #SCBWICon16 actually started, Becky and George were everywhere, making sure everything ran smoothly. Relaxing once the conference was well under way, George livened the after-hour proceedings at the Mercure bar with the ukelele, accompanying her new song, ‘Stuck in the slushpile with glue’, with the help of an ‘oooh-oooh’ chorus of SCBWI barflies and an electrifying performance by a kazoo. 

Anne-Marie Perks took on the job of illustrator coordinator, and Mike Brownlow was in charge of the illustrators’ liaison. Thank you! 

Our multi-talented Candy Gourlay was everywhere at once and if you didn’t appear in any of her videos or photos, you probably weren’t there! A big favourite with everyone was the surprise video in honour of SCBWI’s 20th birthday, 20 Rejections. Thank you to all the performers and to all the rejected writers who contributed, but especially to Candy who put it all together.

Paul Morton, who you may know only as a brilliant illustrator, coordinated the illustrator reviews; Clare Tovey the illustrator speakers: well done! Sue Wallman wasn't busy enough with her #LostandFound book tour and being recommended by *the* Zoella; she also found time to manage the SCBWI scholarships for the conference. Kathryn Evans, also on the Lost & Found tour, has been pretty busy what with her farm and winning the Edinburgh Festival's First Book Award; but, not content with volunteering to coordinate the conference’s finances, she also showed up in the pouring rain on Saturday night as Red Riding Hood’s scarily whiskery, big-eared ‘grandmother’ to help with party check-in.

Clare Bell ran the Friday night critique and the meal afterwards for dozens of grateful Scoobies and went so far as to send out her mobile number recklessly in case anyone had last-minute problems. Our own poet (and space biscuit) Dom Conlon, whom you may remember as the pirate with a fish in his beard last year, handled the print coordination, a big job, and the university liaison. 

Suzie Wilde, who organised the essential volunteers needed for the Front of House (a big thank you to everyone who helped!), had relaxed enough by the Saturday party to come as a very convincing schoolgirl in uniform, although one who seemed atypically responsible. Jonny Wood was the Bookings man for the conference and kept the team up-to-date with his postings; Alice Hemming was on OCA and web support; Mo O’Hara didn't have enough to do with her Big Fat Zombie Goldfish US tour, so also coordinated the PULSE thread of the conference, which has become a more important part of SCBWI, with events that reach out to self-published as well as traditionally published authors and illustrators. Energetic Sarah Towle was versatile and worked on the authors’ speaker coordination as well as the PULSE programme.

For many of us conference-goers, a highlight is the one-to-ones with agents and editors. Thank you to Liz Miller and Addy Farmer for the hours they put in to make this work!

The heart of the weekend is the Saturday night party: a roaring success run by Jan Carr, with Cath Jones, and their hardy team of volunteers. Thank you all for giving us such a great evening while it was pouring outside!

Lou Cliffe-Minn, in spite of having moved back to the UK from San Francisco only three months ago, has thrown herself headlong into the SCBWI whirl and is now ARA member services/events head. You may recognise her from Saturday night as the girl in a Victorian bonnet from The Lie Tree– holding a tree full of paper lies (carefully penned by her own children–including a few disconcerting ones!). 

Natascha Biebow, as regional advisor chair, in spite of her hard work for SCBWI, claimed she scarcely did anything for the conference and gave all the credit to Becky and George, but this writer can personally vouch for her… in at least one area. Coffee cups for the coffee machine at the Saint Alphege building suddenly appeared shortly after the thorough Natascha was informed of this critical shortfall!

Back in May we ran a feature on the conference volunteers. Be sure to thank them if you see them! 

A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered, including anyone who worked hard for the success of the conference and was inadvertently left off this list*: you are much appreciated by all of us! Take a bow!

*Please add their names in a comment!
by Julie Sullivan    


  1. This is lovely Julie, thank you. I'd like to add my personal thanks to Marie Basting, our Networks Coordinator who stepped in to help me out when Addy couldn't come to the conference, so that I didn't need to split myself in two! She made sure people were in the right places, delivered tea and shortbread, calmed delegate nerves and even put up with a moment of odd behaviour from me at the party (Marie will know what I mean, I don't need to embarrass myself further but it did involve wine!) Thanks Marie :)

  2. A great write up Julie and all so true, everyone performed amazingly. I used to think how on earth does the conference manage to happen - now I know, hard work, collaboration and tremendous fun. thanks for the nod, too. Paul.

  3. It was another really great conference, well done everyone!

  4. Hear! Hear! A fantastic conference with so many moments of fun, laughter, challenge (in a good way!) and inspiration. I particularly enjoyed my first ever Mass Book Launch and the party. Without SCBWI I wouldn't have been up on that stage this year. And that's a fact! Thanks to everyone involved in making it so special. Alison Smith (aka Ally Sherrick)
    : )

  5. Thanks so much, Julie! Anyone who wants to watch George's impromptu ukulele concert at the bar can click here

  6. Thanks so much for those kind words. I've had a great weekend, and that's because I've been part of such a great team.

  7. Thanks to everyone for their hard work in creating a fabulous conference. Old friendships rekindled. Newbies came as strangers and left as friends.


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