Connecting and inspiring our new Fellows
The day after our we announced our new Fellows for 2023 (27 June) we gathered at the Royal Society of Medicine in the heart of the west end of London. The majority of our new Fellows, longer standing Fellows, trustees, partners and staff came together to welcome our brand-new Fellows.
Kate Organ (CF 2017), a member of the Advisory Council said: “Today it’s about enabling them (new Fellows) to feel really confident to go on their travels or doing their learning on-line, and to make connections. It’s good to make connections with other Fellows. It’s a very rare thing to get a grant as an individual. That’s what’s exciting about the Fellowship - setting off on your own.”
Our event really did live up to its name, we wanted everyone attending to connect with and inspire each other. It was incredible to see complete strangers arriving on their own as individuals, and by the end of the day exchanging contact details and snapping selfies with each other.
The event kicked off with lunch and then moved into the main auditorium where Julia Weston gave a heartfelt speech on the benefits of a Churchill Fellowship and offered some nuggets of wisdom. The panel of keynote speakers, including Yvonne Field (CF 2012), Anna Wardley (CF 2019), Emily Niner (CF 2019) and Tim Holtam (CF 2018) each spoke about their individual Fellowship projects and what their Fellowships had given them in terms of personal and career development. Their achievements and encouraging words of advice were inspirational to everyone listening.
New Fellow, Pete Donnelly, told us how he felt listening to long standing Fellows: “Its been great listening to what people have gone on to do – and the amazing things it can open up for you. It’s an uncharted journey in some respects so it’s a lot to get your head around. However, it’s been really reassuring today – meeting other people who want to make a difference.”
After a brief networking session and coffee everyone split up into their programme groups, so they could chat in more detail and learn from each other. Lizzie Winston, another new Fellow found this session encouraging and insightful: “I’m feeling nervous and excited. Really happy to be here and meet some other Fellows and learn about their projects. It’s really fascinating to hear about all the plethora of projects all going on. I want to feel I am part of this amazing network and learn what other people are doing, and hear about previous experiences of other people.”
As the day went on the buzz became louder and more electric. New Fellow, Ryan McClusky summed up his experience of the day: “I’m so excited to meet other Fellows and actually learn from their ideas and experiences. It’s just an amazing experience to see how vast the topics and areas are. I am from a medical background – we tend to live in a bit of bubble – I feel like a duck out of water – but I am ready to connect and inspire”.
One final opportunity to network came at the end of the day when drinks flowed, selfies were taken and everyone, new and longer standing reflected on the day. Churchill Fellow Sarah Brown (CF 2018) said: “It’s amazing being back. When I got accepted into the Fellowship I was blown away, so it’s wonderful to see the people coming through, and to meet them in person and see the team again. It’s quite a buzz to be here.”
Certainly, the new Fellows agreed that the event helped to bolster their confidence and enjoyed making new connections. Kirby Brown said: “Today was fabulous. I really think today is quite inspiring. The range of different studies and style of the different studies and the fact that people have done and created so many amazing things. I feel the pressure to make the most of it, but ultimately its super exciting.”
Another new Fellow Simeon Brown agreed that the event had made him feel more connected and inspired: “Today was positive. You are in a room with a lot of people with a lot of purpose. I guess it helps to refocus you – research can be isolating – as you are writing on your own. I’ve made some good connections – it’s been nice to listen to other people’s success. I am not worried – it’s all going to be brilliant”.
We wish all our new Fellows the very best as they move forward with their plans, and we are excited to see how they get on.