Main reason that I try to avoid party conferences is that I don't enjoy them. I never have. When the Conservative Party was lagging behind in the polls, I felt a responsibility to turn up. So I made the sacrifice. But now that more people want to attend our annual do than watch Man U play Chelsea, and there would be dozens of potential 'interviewees' for every media 'op', I decided that I wouldn't be missed. So I've been engaged in a few days research into Welsh-Spanish cultural relations, and a meeting of the Welsh Advisory Board of EuropeanCare Cymru (which I chair) in Swansea. Of which more later.
But I wish I'd been in Birmingham yesterday to hear Terry Pratchett speak. Mr Pratchett is the 60 years old, politically unaligned, best selling author who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Since he joined the 700,000 or so people who have been diagnosed with this illness last year, he has done wonderful work raising the profile of Alzheimer's, as well as donating a big chunk of his personal wealth to research. I would have liked to have been there to applaud his courage and generosity. If I'd known he was going to be there, before I committed to my Board Meeting, I would have 'bitten the bullet' and gone to the Conference instead.
And now a word of thanks to Lord Mayor of Swansea, Coucillor Gareth Sullivan, and to Mrs Gwenda Thomas A.M.. EuropeanCare sponsors a 'not for profit' body named RESEC - or Research into Specialist Elderly Care. We are putting effort and resource into doing what Terry Pratchett was doing in Birmingham today. Last night, the Lord Mayor hosted a reception for RESEC in the Mansion House, and Mrs Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister who is responsible for this area of policy within the Assembly Government agreed to attend and speak. Although I didn't make it in time from Liverpool Airport to here her speak, I did make it in time to meet and thank her. She is a star.
Among the issues at today's Board Meeting were the way that EuropeanCare Cymru might introduce an 'advocacy' scheme for vulnerable people, and the way our recently introduced 'lay visitors scheme' is working. Really good and constructive meeting, exactly the sort of meeting which I would expect Terry Pratchett to approve of.