29 April to 1 May 2014, NEC Birmingham
Naidex National has closed its doors for another year following its most packed programme to date with celebrity appearances, seminars, networking and product launches. The UK’s most comprehensive exhibition and conference dedicated to independent living ran at the NEC, Birmingham from 29 April to 1 May. It attracted over 300 exhibitors, the biggest speaker programme in the show’s 40-year history with visitors from across the UK, including health care professionals, the trade plus end users and their families.
Matthew Tingey, event director, said: “I was incredibly moved to see the thousands of people flocking to Naidex National last week, seeking the latest products and thinking to support independent living for people with disabilities. Forty years since the show launched, the drive to enable people to help themselves and the huge range of products on show from our exhibitors was stronger than ever. That’s why Naidex National remains the number one disability, homecare and rehabilitation event in the UK. I’m also delighted to announce the dates for 2015, which are 28 to 30 April.”
The tone of success was set from the start with a show opening by Britain’s Got Talent semi finalists, Strictly Wheels – they led the opening ceremony with a ballroom dancing set. They were followed by TV presenter, Alex Brooker, who delivered a hilarious and very personal talk on the Multidisciplinary Theatre stage.
Other celebrities and uplifting opening ceremonies followed over the next two days. Football star Ian Taylor, the ex-Aston Villa player who is now an ambassador for the club, came to talk about the sports programmes his club offers people with disabilities. The Community Wellbeing Choir, made up of mental health service users and staff, opened the last day on the perfect note with a series of beautiful and inspirational songs. ‘Wobbly’ funny lady Francesca Martinez closed the show in a packed out theatre, with a side-splitting set.
Exhibitor, visitor and speaker feedback
This year, many well-known brands were at the show to help celebrate Naidex’s 40 years. Hoist specialists ArjoHuntleigh is one brand that has been with Naidex since the very beginning. Mandy Clift, product manager at Arjohuntleigh, said: “We’ve been exhibiting at Naidex since the event started and we always have a good show. This year has been no exception.”
The show also featured smaller fledgling companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology. The REX Bionics stand featured Sophie Morgan demonstrating their exoskeleton, which pulled in many visitors over the three days. Canary, which supplies elderly people and their carers with a security solution to enable people to live in their homes for longer, launched their business at the show with great fanfare. William Cotton, chairman of Canary, said: “Launching our business at Naidex was a no-brainer. It’s been really exciting for us to pass this real milestone and we’ve had universally positive feedback from visitors.”
Visitor Paul Wilson, wheelchair user, said: “It’s great to see how many companies offer tailor-made products. I’d certainly recommend people to come here if they’re looking for specific products – and there’s so much stuff you didn’t even know you wanted.”
Helen Wheeler, Occupational Therapist, visited the new COT Zone and seminars and said: “I try to come here regularly to keep up to date with product innovations, and I‘ve been really impressed with the range of products this year. It’s great to get your hands on stuff and play around with products. Naidex is the show where you get to see the most products, so that’s why I make the effort to come to Birmingham.”
Among more than 100 speakers was Claire Lomas, who walked the London Marathon in an exoskeleton. In an inspirational keynote speech on the second day she spoke of her experience following a horse riding accident, which left her paralysed from the chest down. She is also fundraising for the Nicholl Spinal Injury Foundation, which is looking for a cure for paralysis. Claire announced, jubilant: “The next time I do that marathon, I will do it without a wheelchair, without the exoskeleton and without crutches.”
Naidex conference programme
The new COT Zone was a renowned success, with two packed out theatres throughout the show. Julia Skelton’s talk on the new Care Bill was just one seminar that was well received. Other fascinating speakers in the COT Zone included Colonel John Etherington OBE who discussed the lessons learnt about defense rehabilitation from 10 years of conflict and Shelagh Morris OBE, Deputy Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, NHS England, who discussed the new commissioning system one year on.
Other experts shared knowledge and tips in the new Commerce and Industry Theatre, including Jennifer Robinson, Senior Associate at Pinsent Masons LLP who offered vital advice on changes to Local Authority procurement. Elsewhere, healthcare professionals once again visited the Handicare Ethos Theatre, which offered a CPD approved programme called ‘Dos, Don’ts and Doughnuts’ with practical insights and the opportunity for professionals to review current practice. Visitors also packed out the new Ottobock seminars (on their stand), which were developed to help people choose the perfect wheelchair, regardless of brand.
Melanie Scrivener, communications executive for Invacare commented:“It’s been a really busy show so far. Naidex is a fantastic exhibition and a great platform for showcasing new innovative products. The market-place is really frenetic with lots of activity for the consumer and it’s good to see a mix of seminars for trade and healthcare professionals. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting.”
Naidex National returns to the NEC, Birmingham next year from 28 to 30 April. Visit www.naidex.co.uk for more information.