Volume 60, Number 8, September 2022
Heading north FOLLOWING the editorial in last month’s MEDAL NEWS about the Orders & Medals Research Society (OMRS) Convention and our decision not to attend (mainly because of an unfortunate clash with Coinex), a number of readers have come forward to comment on the event—some favourable, some not so much. The main gripe seems to be not the admission charge but rather the locale, with many complaining that Convention is heading back to London. I understand that, London does not appeal to all. It can be difficult to get to for some and is expensive, especially if an overnight stay is involved, which it probably would be for many coming from more than a couple of hours away; but I also understand why the decision to head back there was made. After all, London is the UK’s capital and, whilst it may not be convenient for everyone, it does appeal to those coming from overseas as well as many others in the South and East. It is the logical choice for any event that wishes to be seen as “international” and whilst it will draw ire from many in the north, the same complaint would be heard from southern-based collectors and dealers if the event heads to somewhere like York or Manchester. It is absolutely not our place to say whether the OMRS committee is right or wrong with their decision to return to London (after Conventions in Nottingham and Stratford-upon-Avon) but I can, as a collector, see why they have done it and, had it not been for the Coinex clash, MEDAL NEWS would be attending. We hope to be there next year if a bourse is still part of the event. It is clear that the decision to go back to London is not popular with everyone in our hobby but, like I said, if the OMRS had decided to go north that would have been complained about by many too. The trips to the Midlands were, I’m guessing, an attempt to find a “halfway” point for those coming from all over but again there were plenty who moaned that they were too far north or not far north enough! The OMRS will not be able to please everybody, that much is clear, and I’m very glad I’m not part of their Convention organising committee—it must be a real headache knowing that no matter what you do you won’t get it right. There is, I think, only one answer to this and that is a revival of OMRS North or similar. Previously held in the Holiday Inn, Runcorn, Cheshire, OMRS North was a two-day event and was always great fun but sadly it folded because it simply wasn’t well supported enough. It is time, I think, to change that, time for those unhappy about having to head south to organise something more local to them. I’m not suggesting a “rival” convention, that would just be silly, but I am saying that there is room, I think, for an event somewhere north of the Midlands, taking place over one or two days, that is more than a medal fair (Andrew Juke’s Outwood and Bowburn shows have that covered) and that incorporates all of the reasons people love going to the OMRS Convention and have done so for many years. People still want the social side of things, they still want to meet up with fellow collectors, still want the exhibits, the talks, even the bourse, but they don’t necessarily want to travel to London to get them (although I hope most people would want to go to both). Therefore, this month, I throw open a challenge to all our readers in the north, whether OMRS members or not (remember just because the London Convention is an OMRS event doesn’t mean the northern one has to be run by the OMRS Northern branch, although I’m guessing they would want to try if they felt it was supported enough), to look at organising something for Spring 2024 (I would love to say Spring next year, but I’m being realistic here). We can’t do it, we really are way too far south to organise such a convention, but we’ll support your efforts in any way we can. So next time you’re at a medal club meeting, next time you’re out with a fellow collector for a pint or two, start talking about it, start putting some thoughts together about what you would like to see and where you’d like to see it (personally I liked Runcorn, but it’s not my decision to make!). I have no idea where OMRS 2023 is going to be held but, if it is going to be in London once again, wouldn’t it be lovely for all of those people unwilling or unable to make the trip to the capital to know that they only have to wait a few months before they have a similar convention on their doorstep? There’s room for both and, with support, for both to flourish, but a northern convention needs organising—so it’s over to you I’m afraid! Go for it!
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