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Our Blue Heart - The Marine Conservation Society Annual Conference 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed the Annual Conference and AGM of the Marine Conservation Society on the 4 December 2019 at Senate House London. It was an evening full of inspiration whilst highlighting the importance of marine conservation. There are some personal highlights I’d like to share with you:

· I walked in to Senate House in good time holding my blue Cora Ball. I registered and spoke with members of the team before I walked in to the main hall where the conference was held. I popped myself at the end of the third row.

· Tom “The Blowfish” Hird conducted the evening instilling the serious topic of marine conservation with humour and passion.

· Hugh Raven Chairman explained how the last year had arguably been the most successful in the charity’s history seeing membership double. He also shared with us how he feels more alive when he is by the sea.

· Team Status Row Caroline Wilson, Jess Rego and Susan Ronaldson were up next on stage sharing their experience of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018. They successfully completed and raised money for the Marine Conservation Society. It was inspiring to hear how they kept going despite constant obstacles they faced and narrowly missed out on a world record by 14 hours.

· Sand Luk CEO introduced the film Our Blue Heart.

In Summer 2018 a film crew set off on a mission to get to the very heart of what the sea means to people in the UK. The interviews uncovered a deep, complex and personally defining relationship, one that is not always pretty and sometimes has a darker side. Everyone that took part had something to share and the result is now a film. ‘Our Blue Heart’ tells the story of what the Marine Conservation Society learned.


1 billion people, largely in developing countries, rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein

The ocean sustains livelihoods and provides food for millions of people

70% of the oxygen in the air we breathe comes from the ocean

· There was a panel discussion chaired by Susie Rodgers MBE a former Paralympic swimmer who competed internationally for 6 years and won 30 international medals and MCS Ocean Ambassador. Susie Rodgers was joined by:

Kiko Mathews who on the 22 March 2018 became the fastest female to row the Atlantic solo and unsupported in just 49 days despite being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease – a rare and life-threatening condition and never rowed before.

Dawn Wood who in February 2019 rowed solo and unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean raising funds for the MCS completing the 3000 mile journey in just 51 days.

Andeep Sanghera Amdeep joined MCS in 2018 as the Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Project Officer. Based in the Carribean full-time, he helped deliver conservation measures for the island’s marine turtle populations.

Jess Rego – One part of the trio Team Status Row.

Sand Luk CEO standing in for Sue Ranger.

There were great tales of the sea from being alone in the middle of the ocean for days, rowing with dolphins to being inspired at an early age having read books on sharks. Each story was personal and illustrated the positive influence the sea has had on the individual.

· We broke for dinner and I decided to introduce myself to Deborah Meaden who was seated opposite me. It was great to have a brief chat with the mighty “Dragon” from Dragons Den and Marine Conservation Society Ocean Ambassador.

· After dinner Deborah Meaden took to stage as the headline speaker and started off recounting when she witnessed a shark kill as a spectator and did nothing to stop the brutal act. This image has driven her to take positive action. Deborah stresses that businesses that purely focus on making money and ignore corporate social responsibility will soon become irrelevant.

· Sandy Luk CEO closed the evening thanking her team and sponsors.

Please do watch the film of “Our Blue Heart”

What does the ocean mean to you? We’d love it if you would share your stories. #ourblueheart

It was a super evening to have the opportunity to meet and hear from such great people it reaffirmed to me why the Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading marine charity.

Stay Safe Keep Buzzing

Selchouk Sami



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