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News and Reviews
Jackie Rose

This year I was extremely fortunate to be awarded a bursary from the BSG which enabled me to attend and present a paper at the annual conference, held at the University of the West of England in Bristol. This was the first time that I had been to a BSG conference; I had been encouraged to attend by fellow students and by staff, who all spoke of the friendly and supportive atmosphere and how positive an experience they had found it to be. I am glad to say that I can now heartily agree with them!

In presenting my paper, I was able to discuss preliminary findings from my PhD study which explores the meanings that older people attach to their participation in collective arts activities. Both, the process of preparing the presentation and that of delivering it were extremely useful experiences for me, particularly as I received many helpful and encouraging questions and comments from the audience.

I was generally impressed by the diversity in the paper and poster presentations. A particular highlight for me was the symposium on ‘sustainable futures through learning’, which included three excellent presentations all linked to lifelong learning – one of my key research interests. In addition, discussions of issues such as attitudes to ageing, quality of life and active ageing – as well as of methodological issues – were also particularly thought-provoking for me.

I thought that the three keynote speakers were all excellent, offering fresh perspectives and encouraging critical reflection on a wide range of issues. I especially enjoyed Professor Mim Bernard’s discussion of the development of new retirement villages: having myself made the first of several visits to different retirement villages as an undergraduate student as part of a housing policy module, I have followed their development with interest, and this presentation certainly broadened my understanding of some of the issues involved. I also found the final keynote paper, presented by Professor Graham Rowles, highly engaging, both from a personal perspective – it made me reflect on my own experiences of re-locating and attachments to particular places – and because issues around community and people’s social environments are related to my research topic.

The social events were enjoyable, and Tony Benn was a very entertaining speaker at the conference dinner. There were plenty of welcome opportunities to network with many of the other delegates and particularly to exchange experiences with fellow students. Attending the meeting of the Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) group was also useful in this respect; again, ERA is a really friendly group and I would very much recommend it to other students and early stage researchers in ageing.

Overall, I found the conference to be well-organised, very useful and engaging, and I look forward to returning to Bristol next September. I am grateful to the BSG for the bursary award and applaud this scheme for the valuable support that it offers – thank you very much.

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