Review of Fresh Start 15
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Fresh Start 15 - Review

12th March 2015

With a price tag that made it the most expensive of all the annual events we had been to in the last 12 months, was Fresh Start 15 worth the time, effort and cost? We break the day down for you...

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Venue

The Sixways Stadium was brilliant, frankly. What a wonderfully clean, modern, and spacious facility that puts many purpose built centres to shame. Home to the Worcester Warriors Rugby Team, it was a venue surprisingly easy to find and access and enjoyed ample parking.

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Key Note Speakers

Day 1

The main speakers were Perry McCarthy (the first Top Gear 'Stig'), Ruth Badger (from Series 2 of BBC's The Apprentice), Olympic Gold Medalist Danielle Brown MBE and the Tri Coaching Team of Graham and Sue McCormack.

First up on Day 1 - Tri-Coaching with Graham and Sue and I really enjoyed it. They are great, natural 'people people' and their presentation on setting goals was very good - even if Graham had to 'work the floor' due to a microphone failure!

The highlight of the event was without doubt 'The Stig'! Whilst the subject matter -speed and racing - may have been a little 'close' for some delegates, generally the tongue in cheek, cheeky chappie persona won the room over and a few great Clarkson stories and one about the late, Great Ayrton Senna, Perry had the room in his hands.

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Day 2

Ruth Badger's style was a little more abrasive and her 'black country' accent certainly reinforced the tone! However, her enthusiasm for sales and business as a whole was a welcome boost to the start of the day (a few sore heads after the Golden L Awards needed it!). I do sometimes worry that generic sales and marketing advice, if taken too literally can do more damage than good to a room of eager to learn ADIs, but her advice, knowledge and verve set the tone for the day.

Danielle Brown's unique experiences were amazingly inspirational and can make many a business person cringe when they think of sacrifices, nerves, stresses and focus that a supreme athlete deals with compared to their own!

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Seminars

A very eclectic mix of the 'Usual Suspects' were there, but that's not such a bad thing as all were people worthy of respect.

Chris Benstead and Ian Brett from 'BADIs' provided an enthusiastic workshop that was well received, and a great session on electric cars from Paul Tomlin had me seriously wondering why we aren't all using them already!

The Social Media speaker I felt left the room with a definite fear of the 'unknown', with many around me more confused about what to do after the seminar! And it was certainly a blatant pitch rather than giving us anything to take away.

Claire Wilmot of 'Ged & Claire' fame (below awarding our own John Farlam with our 2 Golden L Awards from 2014) hosted a seminar on the Standards Check, and very knowledgeable she is too. We took a lot from it -particularly that there is still a lot of fear and trepidation about the Standards Check amongst ADIs, especially in the light of the DVSA figures that 13% (1400 approx) will fail this year.

Neil Snow of the ADI CPD Club pitched an interesting 'school based' part in car, part in class course for learners and the DIA's Carly Brookfield gave us a great insight into how they are dealing with more and more parents that want to be involved withe their child's learning.

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Every time YOUR pupils use YOUR apps, the post about you...Every time YOUR pupils use YOUR apps, the post about you...

Fun!

In amongst all of the guest speakers, Keynotes and seminars, we must remember that the stars of events like these are the ADIs. I must admit it was disappointing to see a smaller crowd that I was expecting, and the organisers must have been disappointed too, but those that were there more than made up for it. Great questions and comments added to the seminars and the spirit in the rooms was positive; a sign that the industry is improving?

It was great to catch up with so many 'facebook celebrities', such as Harry Debling, Jeff Tuck, Geoff Capes, Louise Walsh, Marc Ford as well as conference regulars Salma Ra, Andrew Love, Eve Wakeford Nee Zapettiss, Sara Everett-Skinner to name a few!

Sponsors Hitachi Capital had a great race track to pit our skills against each other and non other than the Stig himself, and DIS (Driving Instructor Services) and MyDriveTime provided the sweeties on their trade stands.

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The Prestigious Industry 'Golden L' Awards.

2015's Golden L Awards ceremony followed the end of Day 1 (and that itself was followed by (a few) drinks!)

This year, the Golden Ls went from strength to strength with even more votes than last year. A special mention must go out to Louise Walsh for her 'Special Achievement Award' following the 'Big Learner Relay' raising over £65,000!

SmartDriving won Best Instructor Resource for the 2nd year running - thank you so much for all your votes!

AND we saw a surprise visit from Ant and Dec - see the image below!!! Well, Ant and Dec aged 50 in the form of look-a-likes Adam Bragg of SmartDriving and Blaine Walsh - he of the 'Flowery Shirt Fetish!

Highlight of the evening must be the 'duel' between Marc Ford and Harry Debling - a thunderous effort from both belting out Elton John and George Michael's classic - 'Don't let the sun go down on me' on the karaoke. Wow.. Just wow. You had to be there. Those that were, will surley regale their Grandchildren of the day, I'm sure.

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Summary

To sum up then, it was a very good, enjoyable and useful couple of days. Would I go again? To answer my question 'was Fresh Start 15 worth the time, effort and cost? in a word, yes. But, despite the great speakers and the great evening, my only question to consider is if the whole event could have been delivered in just one day next year, or would the Fresh Start then lose the diverstiy of subjects it offers and a unique selling point?



4.5 Stars - Best 'event' I've been to for a while.

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Are your pupils using the UK's No.1 Theory and Hazard App, yet?

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Once again, we are proud, flattered and honoured to be WINNERS for 2015!

John, Graham and I would like to thank every one of you that voted for us - thank you very much!

SmartDriving - proud to be 'Best Driving Instructor Resource' for 2015 adding to our 2 awards for 2014 - I hope we can keep up the good work!

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