Recognition for Bravery
Volume 56, Number 1, January 2018
Looking ahead AFTER much fevered speculation (OK, it wasn’t that fevered but questions were being asked) the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS) have announced that the 2018 Convention will take place in the East Midlands City of Nottingham. Convention moved out of London in 2016 and has enjoyed two very successful years in Stratford Upon Avon. However, mindful of the danger of that venue getting stale (there’s only so many Shakespeare-themed attractions one can visit) and, apparently, unable to negotiate a suitable deal to return to the Crowne Plaza for a third year, the Society has decided to take the plunge and move east, choosing Nottingham as the new venue at least for this coming year and possibly 2019 too. We at Token are wholeheartedly behind the move (well we did suggest Nottingham way back), both because a change always helps stir things up (and we already go to Stratford three times a year for Mark Carter’s fairs there) and because Nottingham is, or should be, an ideal location. The east of the country, certainly the East Midlands, is nowhere near catered for enough on the fair circuit and with excellent transport links and the wonderful Sherwood Foresters Museum at the Castle, the city, on paper at least has it all. True, the convention centre where the event is to be held isn’t a hotel so there may not be the same sense of camaraderie over the weekend as there has been for the last few where everything was in one place, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue—the OMRS is looking to try to establish an HQ at one of the nearby hotels (with reduced room rates for delegates) and even if we aren’t all in the same place that didn’t stop us having some excellent Conventions in the past, in the New Connaught Rooms for example. The choice to move is, we believe, the correct one and we hope that the choice of venue proves as much a success as Stratford did (despite the naysayers). Is this the start of a new policy on the part of the Society with a new venue to be chosen every few years just to keep things fresh? It certainly works for OMSA in America but the size of that country makes it necessary—will it be received as enthusiastically on this side of the pond? Of course, moving venues every year or two to ensure that all the country is covered is all very well but is it enough to encourage collectors to attend? Indeed, in this internet age are conventions and medal fairs necessary at all…? Regular readers will know my answer to that. I believe fairs, conventions, clubs, etc., are all very important and believe that without one-on-one personal interaction with like-minded collectors, the hobby would be a far poorer place—that’s not news to most of you, it is a drum I’ve been beating for a while now and a cause I will continue to champion. Those happy to collect from behind a keyboard will, of course, disagree and that’s OK— if they don’t want to interact with others face to face they don’t have to, but there is one aspect to the age old argument that they may not have considered, and that is if the hobby goes on-line only, how will we encourage new collectors? How will we get new people into the hobby at all? I imagine most of you will have started collecting for one of a few simple reasons, either you were in uniform yourself and had your own medals; your parents (probably your father) collected and encouraged you; one of your relatives fought in one of the World Wars and you had his medals to start you off or one day you were at an antiques shop, boot sale, fair or similar, picked up some medals and bang, you were hooked . . . There may still be fathers encouraging their sons to collect and that’s a good thing but as time goes by there are fewer and fewer family medals to be passed down to get people interested (after all that’s how our collections are formed —medals leaving families) and with various MOD and policing/public sector cuts there are fewer and fewer people joining the uniformed services who will have their own medals to start their collection. So that leaves the last way in to the hobby: the chance encounter with a group that piques your interest. If that goes and the only way to buy is from a website, then won’t our hobby shrink down to just a few hardened collectors and, in time, vanish altogether? Don’t believe me? Then ask yourself this: you may well have had a number of hobbies over the years, may have a number still now, how many of those started from a random “Google” search that you thought you’d take further? Not many I’ll wager. Oh, certainly, there are new collectors coming in who are very much encouraged by the internet, the collectors’ sites, the forums et al, but the internet didn’t start their collecting, it’s simply aiding it now—they started for other reasons; take those reasons away and what have you got? A hobby that few people ever even know about, let alone get interested in. Please don’t let that happen, you’ll regret it in the long run if you do. We all will.
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