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Conference Ambassadors take centre stage

25th October 2012

Categories: Convention Bureau News

North East based academics and professionals who have helped bring £65m worth of conferences to the region were thanked in style last night (24 October) with an exclusive dinner at The Sage Gateshead to celebrate 10 years of the NewcastleGateshead Conference Ambassador Programme.
The dinner was the first event of its kind to be held on the stage, usually the platform for musicians like Northern Sinfonia orchestra of The Sage Gateshead as well as pop, rock, jazz and folk artists, in the venue’s inspiring Hall One. It was hosted by NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau who set up the Conference Ambassador Programme (CAP) a decade ago, and was supported by Benchmark Communications, event management company based in the destination.

Gill Pilkington, conference development manager at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, heads up the CAP. She explains: “NewcastleGateshead’s academic and business community, its leaders, influencers and key decision makers play a vital role in attracting high-profile conferences to North East England - raising their profile to clients and peers on a regional, national and often international scale.

“We decided to hold the dinner so we could give them the recognition they deserve, not only for showcasing to their colleagues around the world that their business is at the forefront of innovation, but also that NewcastleGateshead is a leading conference destination with a growing ambition.”

In the ten years since it formed, the CAP has helped secure more than 120 events welcoming 37,000 delegates, it has grown from a standing start and reached 200 ambassadors within its first 5 years; it has continued to grow at an encouraging rate and now stands at almost 1000 members.

The CAP concentrates on three central themes with specific focus on key areas of expertise – medical sciences, in particular stem cell biology, ageing and health; science and technology with a focus on marine and offshore energy, environment and sustainability; and finally, culture and creative businesses.

More than 50 key ambassadors attended the dinner, including Dr Pam Davies, Programme Director, School of Arts and Social Sciences at Northumbria University, who worked with the Convention Bureau to secure the British Society of Criminology Annual Conference in July 2011, she said: “We could not have hosted such a major and hugely successful International Criminology Conference without the Convention Bureau’s fantastic professional support from start to finish.”

Speakers at the event included Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, of which the Convention Bureau is part, and Anthony Sargent, General Director of The Sage Gateshead, where many of the CAP successfully secured conferences have taken place, he said: “This dinner was an exciting opportunity for us to celebrate our partnership with the Convention Bureau and the work of the Conference Ambassadors themselves for all the many conferences and events they’ve helped to secure for The Sage Gateshead. 

“We’re looking forward very much to working with them into the future, to continue raising NewcastleGateshead’s profile on the UK’s conference map”

Amongst some of the largest and most high profile events attracted since the CAP began, include:

• The Pathological Society of GB and Ireland, 600 delegates, July 2005 at Newcastle University;
• European Conference on Silicon Carbide and Related Materials, 600 delegates, September 2006 at The Sage Gateshead;
• European Pancreatic Club Annual Conference, 400 delegates, June 2007 at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead;
• British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, 500 delegates, May 2010 at The Sage Gateshead;
• European Academy of Childhood Disability, 600 delegates expected, October 2013 at The Sage Gateshead


For media enquiries contact:
Shelley Armstrong
Media & PR Manager
T. +44 (0)191 440 5739
M. +44 (0)7717 631 109

Notes to editors:
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is a destination marketing and management agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with around 165 private sector member organisations across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region.

All of our activity aims to promote and position NewcastleGateshead as a world-class vibrant tourism destination, through targeted marketing and PR campaigns nationally and internationally and through the work of our cultural programming team and convention bureau.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative is supported by a board offering expertise from a range of sectors and professions. We also work with a wide range of partners, stakeholders and businesses, who share our ambition to promote NewcastleGateshead as a world-class place in which to live, learn, work, and visit.

• NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau’s mission is to position and promote NewcastleGateshead as a leading European destination for leisure and business visitors through event bidding and high-profile, targeted destination marketing and PR activity. 

Our Convention Bureau uses local knowledge and expertise to help organise conferences, meetings or events in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding area. It provides a free service including arranging everything from venue sourcing and booking to accommodation, transport and entertainment for delegates. With a huge choice of state-of-the-art venues NewcastleGateshead is fast becoming one of the UK’s most popular destinations whether it’s for a meeting of 10 people or a conference for thousands.

• United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are combined here like nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit which is symbolised by Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North as it welcomes travellers to the area.

Imagery / Photography opportunities:

• - NewcastleGateshead’s Initiative’s extensive royalty free image library

Useful links:
• - NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s media website
• - business meeting and event specific website for NewcastleGateshead

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