An Unknown Hero
Volume 53, Number 10, November 2015
All the fun of the fair Many of you will have recently attended the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS) Annual Convention in London at the end of September — but did you know that that is the last convention the OMRS are holding in the Capital, at least for the foreseeable future? For the next two years at least the weekend of talks, exhibits and the Sunday Medal Fair is to be held in Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire. Now I am not here to comment on the OMRS’ decision, they are a separate organisation from us at MEDAL NEWS and what they do is very much up to them, however, from a personal point of view I would say that whilst I fully understand the desire to move out of London and take the event “on the road”, I personally wouldn’t have chosen Stratford, which is already well catered for by Mark Carter’s fairs there three times a year. If I’d been organising the event I think I would have looked further east (Nottingham perhaps), to a city with better transport links (A1, M1, direct trains, etc.) and one that is a part of the country not already covered by a regular show. However, I’m not the organiser and I am certain that the company the OMRS employed to look at the options chose Stratford for a very good reason, although I suspect that reason has little to do with medals! Now I’m guessing at this but I would imagine the remit for finding the new venue would have included something along the lines of “something for the wives and girlfriends to do” and “something to encourage overseas visitors” and in those Stratford excels—it is, as I am sure you all know, the birthplace of one William Shakespeare and as such it is of immense historical interest with his family home, the church where he worshipped and is buried and his ex-wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage all available for the tourist to visit, and after their walk around they can take in a Shakespeare play at one of the recently refurbished theatres. This is all excellent, and to be recommended for those who want to “make a weekend of it” and, my own preference for somewhere further east aside, I think it is an excellent venue. However, I know for a fact there will be people moaning about the move. There will always be detractors, those against change just because it’s change and no matter what the OMRS does with Convention there will be those who think it is wrong. I would imagine that the proposed move to the Midlands will deter a number of people from the South East from attending but at the same time encourage those from the centre of the country and the North, who find it too expensive to come to the Capital for a weekend, to come along – perhaps for the first time in years. This should lead to, if not an increase, certainly no decrease in numbers. Hopefully those who decide not to make it to Stratford will instead attend Britannia, Aldershot or Woking and get their medal fix that way—but what they mustn’t do is decide not to go to anything at all . . . In this day and age, where you can buy medals on-line, research everything on websites and join fora to chat to fellow collectors, there are those who just don’t bother to attend fairs anymore (for the purposes of this I am referring to Convention as a fair, I do realise it is far more than that with the medal fair only being one of the highlights of the weekend) and that, I believe, is a great shame. For me there is nothing, and I mean nothing, like going into a room full of medals, surrounded by fellow collectors all of whom broadly share my interests. Nothing the on-line world can give you can match the buzz you get from handling medals in real life, checking naming styles, feeling the weight of the group in your hand, etc. No amount of virtual chatter can match the one on one banter over coffee with a like-minded collector or two and nothing quite matches the excitement you feel when you spot a bargain or a long ago given up on “reunite”. I know I’ve said all this before but I make no apologies for saying it again now—this hobby would be a far poorer place if the medal fairs and Conventions didn’t exist. So next year, when the time comes, don’t worry too much about Convention not being in London anymore, book your train ticket, or get in the car and head up to Stratford and if you can’t make it there we’ll see you at Britannia! In fact we’ll see you there later this month!
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