From Ash, Shayne, and Phoebe:
To each one of you on this list and to your lovely families - spouses, significant others and remarkable children - our deepest heart-felt thanks for what you have done for our UK CWD family. The look on the faces of the Mums, Dads, Grandparents and above all the awe-struck children as the CWD magic spread was simply priceless. It's hard to look back without getting emotional - the 'thank you's' are making that tougher - but now we have our very own scrapbook crammed with tinkling laughter, tears of joy and smiles as bright as the sun. You all took a risk. You put your special brand of magic on the line, put yourselves in a strange land with some strange folks (and an odd language & funny-tasting beer) and opened your arms so incredibly wide. What an embrace! Thank you!
We have just got home - only 45 mins drive from Windsor! I had both the boys in tears as they did not want to leave - and Lizzie had lots of email and mobile number of her new found Friends for Life. Your conference has brought us all together as a family and made us take a fresh perspective on everything and most of all realise we are not alone. All of this and so much fun too. Thank you to you and all your team for making this possible.
We are just home, and I wanted to write to say A MASSIVE THANK YOU once again. Please thank everyone from us, it's a weekend we will never, ever, forget.
We just wanted to say a huge thank you to you all for a great weekend. It was very well organised and we are very grateful to you for coming over from the States to make this happen for us. We can't wait for the next one! In particular could you forward this email or pass on our gratitude to all the people involved in the childcare. It was the first time we have been able to leave Dylan with anyone in a year since his diagnosis, and it means the world to us that we had this opportunity knowing he was so well looked after.
From Grandma Gil:
Excellent experience. WE ALL LOVED IT. My daughter didn't have to cook and my son in law didn't need to carb count. Our children were safe. Everyone was very loving and caring - taking their cue from you wonderful Americans. The team's demeanour set the tone for the whole weekend. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! We have been mightily encouraged that our decision to fight for a pump is the right one. All sessions were excellent and helpful, given that you have to cater for all levels of understanding and experience.
Overall conference experience was excellent - we learnt so much as a family and I would recommend every family with a type 1 child should attend. Thanks again for all your hard work what a fantastic conference it was.
From Jenny, Daniel, and Isabelle:
Firstly a huge "THANK YOU" for the weekend. The conference was absolutely fantastic. I'm still buzzing! All of the sessions I attended I enjoyed. The speakers were all fab; it was so refreshing listening to professionals that are on our side rather than feeling like we are fighting all the time.
From Max (teenager):
The conference venue was good and the staff allowed the teens to stay up late and chat and play games. Parents were happy about this too because the venue was safe. It was nice for me to meet up with US friends and we managed to draw in some English teens to our group!
From Jennie (who has been to 5 Friends for Life conferences in the US):
When we walked into reception at 3.00pm on Friday the same old feeling came back, we were with friends for life. Max's US friends were there, Zak, etc., and they had man hugs. And there were my friends, Jeff, Julia and Lauren. It was so great to have you all in the UK. I hope you enjoyed your time here. Over the weekend, I have now made more friends for life. And they are this side of the pond! I really have met lots of great people.
I'm still talking about the weekend and really want it to go ahead next year.
From Tony, Helen, and the boys:
We all enjoyed the weekend tremendously. The Elementary & Tween programs seemed to work very well and the boys made some new friends, and I think also infused some new diabetes knowledge from some of their speakers. We certainly learned a lot of new things in the Adult talks. The trade stands from the sponsors were very informative and it was good to seeing the reps taking such an active part in mixing with the parents & children.
I dont know who put the signs up for the carb counting but it must of taken ages and it was such a big help with the food. All the staff were so friendly and helpful and I really appreciate all their efforts into making the weekend so enjoyable for my family. The sponsors as well were all so friendly and seemed to genuinely care about our children and diabetes -something I have not come across before. Once again Laura please pass on my thanks and gratitude to you and your team for a truly wonderful experience. See you next time.
I wish that I had just arranged to stay another day or at least the last night now, so we didn't have to rush off in the evening. Whether or not another conference is able to be longer or not, it might be an idea to suggest that many parents found it helpful to stay that last night to unwind and just spend some time talking and meeting people.
Brilliant weekend! I've put my answers below but just wanted to share with you what my 11 year old said on Saturday 'Mum, I feel like I'm normal now'. He's not a child of many words (!) but the weekend really meant a lot to him. Very well organised, I learnt loads and met some lovely people. The hotel was good, bedroom, facilities, food etc excellent. Thank you soooo much for labeling the food and organising snacks at all the breaks. It was so relaxing not having to worry about my son, knowing he was being so well looked after by the team.
It's Georgie here who's 12 years old. I loved the conference it was really fun and everyone was really friendly. My brother Sam is missing your son Sam very much!
From Clare, Michael, and Rachael:
We had a fabulous time. Everything was so well organised and we were very grateful for the staff who made that possible. We really appreciated the easy access to tea, coffee and snacks whenever we needed them (diabetic or not!). We also really liked the carb counts on the food which meant our daughter could be totally independent. The sessions were useful and informative and best of all we met some wonderful people and had great social time. Just being with people who "get it" is hugely relaxing. Rachael adds: The best bit was meeting the other teens!
You have kicked off with an extremely good Friends for Life in the UK. I really did enjoy the talks with the kids - great to have such inquisitive minds. I also very much enjoyed the talk with the parents at the end of the conference!
It was absolutely wonderful, I could never have wished for a better weekend, and will remember it for the rest of my life. Marc (a teen) had only ever met one other young person with diabetes, so this blew us both away! We have both made friends for life. The advice and support was out of this world. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I would love to have attended so many more sessions but was unable to do so as they ran at the same time. There was too much choice, that's not a bad thing! The solution is to make the conference much longer! Marc just wishes it lasted longer, he loved it. He said everyone was fantastic and there is not one part of the experience he would change.
From Karen and Maddie:
The first thing I would like to say is 'THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH.' The conference was so much more than I expected it to be. The overall experience was fantastic. Once I was over the nerves of getting to the hotel, finding a room and getting my bearings I felt fairly relaxed. It was lovely to meet people from the States on entering the hotel and being made to feel so welcome. I've just asked Maddie what she liked and she said 'everything'! Maddie and I cannot wait to hear if it will all happen again next year. To everyone that made the conference happen, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
From Ali, Pete, Cameron, and Nathan:
It was amazingly good. Everything was extremely well organized - you are real pros! The best aspect of the level of organisation was how safe we felt our kids were and how well looked after. My boys, one tween and one elementary, both really loved Sports Central. And Milky Ways and Kit Kats on tap. They are basic creatures! They both want to come back next year; they will both be tweens next year. The younger one was lamenting the friends he would be leaving behind in Elementary and the Tween was lamenting the fact that his 'best friend' would be moving up to Teens next year. I think that speaks volumes. The sponsors really did well. I loved the extra touches such as the special guests and the superb face painters.
My main over-arching feeling is that of becoming part of a larger community and loving feeling the same instead of different for a while. This was most marked when we went to breakfast on the Monday, having stayed on an extra night, and found ourselves without the carb counts and back to the usual stares at the pumps etc., etc. I loved feeling normal and imagine what that meant for my children with tears in my eyes. I live and breathe diabetes, and so the sessions were my main life-blood. I loved being challenged and finding out new gems of information and also, to be honest, the confirmation that much of what I am doing is the best practice on both sides of the water. I feel motivated to keep going and pursuing my own goals for my children given the motivation such great examples from the states have given me. I will continue to fight for the same care for all children in this country.
I have to say that it is the best event that we have ever been to in relation to diabetes and that is saying quite alot considering our daughter has been diagnosed going on 14 years now. Your organisation of the weekend was immaculate and no one would have known that it was the first time that this event had been held in England. You were all so approachable and made us all feel safe and relaxed and that meant more than words can say. (Re: Richard Rubin), if I could put his warmth and smile in a bottle I would save it for those days that are a bit more challenging and open it up and let the sun come out.
From Beth (teen):
I made alot of friends from the conference who I really do think will be friends for life. But I think that the main thing that I will take away from the conference with me is the knowledge that I am not on my own. If I ever feel down about my diabetes I know that it is likely that there is another person out there, whether in the same country or on the other side of the world, who will be experiencing what I feel and the problems that I have. The conference did really give me a new look at diabetes and I loved seeing the adults with diabetes and knowing that anything is possible and that life with diabetes does go on. Thanks again, I think that the weekend was one of the best weekends I have experienced in my life. All the staff were fantastic and I hope to see you all again next year!
Our family enjoyed every minute and we send our congratulations and thanks to you all for organising everything so professionally. The hotel was just a perfect location. I was a little worried by the reviews on 'trip advisor' - nearly booked a different hotel - so glad we didn't! The overall weekend conference experience was first class and great value for money. The boys aged 8 and 13 thought it was total luxury. Michael (8) said he enjoyed "everything" but especially the "activities". Well done again. We can't wait until next October.
I just wanted to say, Wow! Thank you so much all of you. It has been an honor & a privilege to meet you all & you have all been absolutely wonderful. All the staff were courteous, helpful, patient, caring, truly marvelous people.
All the kids had a brilliant time. All the parents I spoke to said it was excellent and that their kids loved it. Thank you so much for all your hard work. You have worked so long and hard to get this conference to the UK and it was just amazing. I was saying to Jeff that there are few benefits to having diabetes, but the silver lining is that I have met just so many wonderful people and made such good friends from being involved with people in the diabetes world; it's hard to imagine never having met some of the people I now know. All your team of people supporters and helpers worked so hard and have been amazing. I wish now that we had arranged to stay an extra night to wind down a bit and relax. I can't thank you and all the team enough for all you do. The twins send their love to all their new US friends.
Words cannot describe how happy we all are that we attended this conference. Johnny had the time of his life - he absolutely loved every second of it, and my daughter had a great time too. My husband and I learnt an enormous amount and we had lots of interesting conversations with other parents. We thought that the speakers were excellent and that the sessions were really well varied between the more scientific and stuff and the day-to-day living stuff (carb counting, exercise etc..) It was brilliantly organised - always something going on - good food - nice long breaks. Obviously you have been running these events in the US for many years now and you have perfected the formula for a great conference. I am eternally grateful to have benefitted from all your years of experience in this field. Your whole team were absolutely amazing.
It was an excellent experience, good learning opportunities, children able to meet so many other children with diabetes and lots of ages and they all mixed so nicely. Is it me or are children so much more compassionate and kinder to each other, they were all lovely, bigger ones being very tolerant of the little ones, lots of flirting between the older ones (lovely and all good stuff for them). The venue was fantastic, felt thoroughly spoilt, something most mums rarely get, the chance to be able to talk diabetes without people's eyes glazing over! The easy way everyone had of interacting made it great fun and took the pressure off, having room for the children to run whilst still being able to see them (most of the time) in the evening made it very relaxing, the hotel really went out of their way to help us.
We had a fantastic weekend thank you. Isobel says she would like to live at Friends for Life
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