Rotary Pandemic Conference (16 December 2013)

The Rotary Pandemic Conference was held on 16th December 2013 at The Peninsula Hotel.

The day was a great success bringing together over 100 students, 8 speakers and 8 facilitators as well as guests who popped in during the day. The event was covered by all the islands media and had full page coverage in the local Press. For those of you who were not able to attend, a summary of the day is set out below.

The Rotary Club of Guernsey already runs two very successful Youth competitions locally - Youth Speaks and Young Chef of the Year, but The Club was keen to extend its work with young people, preferably not in a competition format and a 1 day conference for GCSE students about the impact of a pandemic on Guernsey was planned.  The Club worked very closely with the Education Department and all eight secondary sector schools, including Le Murier, and they were all very excited and enthusiastic about the conference. 

Why a conference on pandemics?

The whole aim of this conference was to raise the profile and interest in Polio eradication, through Polio Plus, however a conference on Polio was considered a little "dry" so we decided to do a conference on Pandemic. Public health and social awareness are Humanities curriculum subjects which schools find difficult to deal with. For this reason, the Education Department was keen to embrace this idea.  Through the contacts of the Rotary Club, we were able to secure an expert group of local professionals to speak at the conference, the same speakers infact that would be used by the Guernsey Emergency Services Liaison Group in a real pandemic situation.

The conference addressed the issues of:

  • how diseases are spread,
  • what control methods are available
  • what the effect of 10-15% of the population being infected is likely to have
  • what the effect on daily life, social cohesion and public welfare would be
  • what the effect on business and public services would be
  • what steps the authorities would take to mitigate these effects.

Quite apart from the curriculum enhancement aspects, the conference gave students an insight into the island's social structure and a broader idea of the integration of the interdependence of the public and private sectors.

Ten students from each of the schools were selected to attend the conference with some of the schools holding competitions as the demand for places was so high. In addition, a group of students from the Sixth Form Centre at the Grammar School who are studying for the International Baccalaureate were fully involved with the planning and organisation of the event as this fulfils the criteria of this study module.  Students from the College of Further Education doing media studies were involved in recording the Conference and producing a DVD of the proceedings, which will be circulated locally and to Rotary Clubs throughout the UK.


The Conference was run along exactly the same lines as any other conference, including registration with name badge and a delegate pack. The following speakers (who were available throughout the whole day) presented their particular specialist areas:

Deputy Roger Domaille      Chairman

Dr. Nicki Brink                     Consultant Virologist, Assistant Director, Medical Public Health

Val Cameron                       Director of Environmental Health & Pollution

Dr. Stephen Wray               General Practitioner with expertise in pandemics

Mr Frank Flynn                    Assistant Director of Education

Andy Walford                       Assistant Director Ambulance and Rescue Service

Jim Cathcart                        Radio Guernsey presenter

Peter Gill                             Harbour Master

Catherine Veron                  Co-ordinator from GESLG


During a pandemic, each and every one of these individuals or organisations would have a crucial role to play. Each speaker talked about their areas of expertise and ensured that students were provided with all the relevant information to enable them to make informed judgements and recommendations.  Power point presentations were provided to all students in hard copy as each session progressed.

Following the presentations from the speakers (and a break for lunch provided on the premises) the students who were already placed on 8 mixed school tables of 10 students were allocated a particular aspect of the pandemic scenario on which to focus. Each group nominated a spokesperson or persons to make a short presentation about their particular aspect of the scenario. A teacher and one facilitator (taken from the island Rotary clubs) were positioned at each table to guide and encourage students during their deliberations with the main speakers also circulating the room to offer advice.

Following each presentation the relevant speaker gave feedback to the room

The topics for each table were:

-         Health & identifying risk groups

-         Immunisation and looking after those already infected

-         Command and Control - co-ordinating our island and global response

-         Stopping the spread of pandemic influenza - local health measures

-         Emergency Services - how will they cope?

-         The media role - how do we manage this?

-         Education - actions required relating to schools

-         Airport and Harbour - open or close?

The students who took part in the conference will also be expected to cascade the information gathered to their peers in their own individual schools through assemblies, tutor time and possible even during P.S.H.E lessons.

The conference ended with Jannine Birtwistle from the Rotary Club of Guernsey giving a 15 minute presentation on Polio Plus, which was very well received by all attending.

Nigel Dorey the President of the Rotary Club of Guernsey closed the day with vote of thanks to the many people who had given up so much of their time to ensure that the conference was a total success. They are as follows:

Our Sponsors

Healthspan Group Limited

Guernsey Electricity Limited

The Healthcare Group

Bourse Trust Company Limited


Elite Business Services Limited

The Team

Jannine Birtwistle and the Polio Plus Committee for their vision and hard work in making the day happen

Susan Havis from the Education Department for her guidance and assistance with the organisation of this conference.

The Year 13 IB students of the Sixth Form Centre for their amazing work in organising the conference under the guidance of Jocelyn Dorey.

Paul Arnett, Simon Ellis and The College of Further Education Media students for working on and producing a DVD record of the conference.

Jon Pettitt and the team at Delta Production Services for AV enhancements.

All of the teachers involved for their work with the students, both prior to, during and after the conference

Deputy Roger Domaille for being our Chairman and all of the speakers, but in particular Nikki Brink, Catherine Veron and Val Cameron for the vast amount of planning and work they have undertaken in producing the pre-conference materials, presentation slides and the handouts.

The Facilitators for working so well with the students.

and finally, the students who have taken part today - well done!

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