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In the late 1990s the Halifax Building Society came under Bank of England Rules and gave all its existing savings customers a bonus. The former North West Region received an extra £1500 and had to decide how best to use it. Advised that post graduate researchers were daily trawling the Net looking for funds, the Region decided to offer an annual Travel Bursary by competition.

The purpose of the Bursary is to help a postgraduate woman researching a higher degree, often nowadays a PhD, to travel to an international conference abroad or in the United Kingdom. Many of our competitors have been invited by their chosen conferences to present papers or posters and all know that they will benefit from the networking.
In time the year’s winner became the main speaker at the annual meeting to present her work to the BFWG members as stipulated in the Bursary Instructions.

Academic Presentation Day

Inspired by the Presentation Days at BFWG headquarters, the next step was to provide an opportunity for some of the
runners up in the Travel Bursary competition also to present their work but in a different format. The first experimental
Day was held in 2008 in the Liverpool Medical Institution as a gift from the Liverpool Association which was celebrating its
centenary.

By then the old regions had disappeared so this was labelled North West and is not part of Northern Region.
Although the content of each presenter’s research is invariably fascinating, the main aim of the Presentation Day is to help above all with presentational skills. It is essential when researching to know how to present work not just in a thesis but in a variety of other ways, such as this format. The assessors are very carefully chosen so that they can give valuable advice, in privacy, during the lunch break. Competition is for the main prize of £75 and every runner up is given £25. All are given Certificates of Attendance to add to a CV – another idea given us by headquarters.

Order of Competition

Strictly alphabetical – this at least gives forewarning and time to prepare.

Method of Presentation

Each competitor is allocated 35” as follows:
5” Personal Background
15” Presentation of Research
10” Questions from the audience on the content only of the presentation
5” Switchover (as most nowadays want to use Power Point)

Programme

There are four competitors who present in the morning. During lunch, which they have separately with the assessors in the bar, the audience can chat and will vote on who should be the Day’s winner. After lunch the year’s Travel Bursary winner makes her presentation and answers questions. The assessors then have an opportunity to make general remarks, the winner for the Day is announced, prizes and certificates are officially presented, the raffle is drawn, a cup of tea is provided and the room is then left to BFWG members for the short, very informal annual meeting.

Venue

This is now the Hollins Hey Hotel, New Brighton, conveniently right opposite the railway station and with easy free parking.  From the evaluation sheets filled in by everyone we know that they like the venue, like the Achill suite which is given over to us for the day, enjoy the hot buffet lunch (favourite among the competitors more used to sandwiches!) and the whole atmosphere. A previous Bursary winner and her husband provide the laptop and back up for the Power Point presentations and the hotel the screen. A sign in form complies with fire regulations.

Other Points

Everyone is given a presentation booklet with programme, order of competition and method of presentation, backgrounds of Day Chairman, assessors, competitors, Bursary winner, background to Bursary and Presentation Day, description of BFWG with contact details.

Previously funding came solely from Association reserves but now that one of them has started holding an annual Garden Party things look much more rosy as we are constantly astonished at non members’ kindness and generosity when we explain what all this is for – fulfilling BFWG’s aim to support all women graduates and postgraduates’ research.

BFWG Founded 1907

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