I have been to three and a bit national VCF conferences and found at each the experience of shared fellowship with vets in all stages of their (widely varied) careers to be a blessing well beyond expectation.  As a student I felt supported in a way that made the daunting prospect of heading out of the leafy streets of Cambridge into the unknown feel OK.  As a recent graduate returning to the Hayes for a series entitled ‘God is in control’ I could think of no other CPD more welcome or more useful.  Attending a conference with an arm in plaster (cow + impatience induced) I knew that God was working in me despite myself.  In 2015 I left husband, baby and toddler with the in-laws and enjoyed more excellent teaching, exciting mission updates and some very helpful small group sessions.

This year due to Ali’s wonderful organisational skills I was able to go to the Southern conference accompanied by my husband and our two small children.  Persuading the girls was easy.  ‘Would you like to go and stay in a hotel?’ ‘What is a hotel?’ ‘A place where lots of people can stay the night and you share a bedroom with Mummy and Daddy’ ‘You mean like a big sleepover, yes please’

Persuading Jo, my husband (who often craves time to himself, distance from university students and an outright ban on vet talk) to drive for 3.5 hours to spend time in close proximity to both vets and vet students was another matter!  Persuading myself after work on Friday night that I wanted to drive from Devon to Shillingford with three sleeping passengers required a prayer too! What a fantastic weekend though!  We were all so hugely blessed by the teaching, fellowship, childcare provision and rest that we returned home (via dusk starling murmurations on the Somerset levels) a thoroughly happy crew. 

4yr old on arriving home ‘I wish Rachel and Jon were here.’

2yr old, the next day ‘Hotel breakfast is better than Weetabix’

4yr old on arriving at preschool the next day to her teacher ‘ I wanted to bring you my Noah’s Ark for show and tell but it is too big to carry so can you come and see it at my house?’

2yr old when asked by her childminder what she did at the weekend ‘Special Sunday school with my friends and lots of food’.

Jo and I really appreciated hearing Bible teaching together, meeting some fascinating people, walks along the river, unleashing the girls in a safe and loving environment and watching Six Nations in the bar.  So if, like me, you want to stay in or become part of VCF but don’t want to leave your family behind then please do bring them along for future conferences.

Sarah Madden