AAPT Annual Conference London 2018

It’s a most excellent start to any morning when you make a cup of tea only to realise that the milk’s gone off. However I wouldn’t let that ruin or darken my day for I was off early to the AAPT 14th annual conference and this year I had some pretty awesome reasons to be excited.

Cup of tea attempt #2

I arrived at the Holiday Inn Regent’s Park to a crowd of people outside. Some people I recognised, fewer I actually knew and a lot more I had no idea who they were. I’ve been lucky to attend a few AAPT events before including this conference last year, it almost feels like I have a tick-list of people to check off each time to speak to, and this year I got a whole load of new ticks. One thing I will say, the people of the AAPT are always so very friendly and just, well, normal people. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like I fit with a job I’ve had, good news really when I’m pretty certain I’ve got my dream career.

Got a little beefeater bear to go with my Cardiff dragon

When I got there I saw an open door towards the registration desks so I rushed in to get my lanyard and bag of goodies. A little pre-emptive as I was immediately told they weren’t open yet and to go stand outside! Oops! Outside I stood nervously catching people’s eyes and trying to figure out who was an APT and who was a bog standard hotel patron. The doors opened not long after and I got registered, then walked through to the conference room to grab a seat and dump my coat. Then it was time to grab a cup of tea and settle on in for the morning session.

Trusty notebook bought by Laura D and the conference programme

There was an array of talks in the morning and the afternoon of a very high calibre. I particularly enjoyed a presentation by a member of the air ambulance crew who described East London as being ‘well, yes, a bit stabby’ while discussing the kind of call outs he went to. I’ve seen the kinds of procedures they use on people who have arrived at the mortuary but I’ve never been sure exactly how they are carried out or why, now I know! In the afternoon session there was also a presentation by a Sergeant from the Metropolitan Marine Police who look after the river along with other areas, for example I never knew they did high areas like rooftops too! Her presentation was a brilliant and informative one, largely explaining what happens to people if they end up in the river and how they are found. Her presentation ended on discussing the SS Princess Alice disaster where a passenger paddle steamer was struck and sank in the Thames in 1865. A larger part of my notes from this section includes a direct quote of a description of the water at Woolwich where it sank being ‘fast flowing poo soup’.

Thought you might enjoy my little sketch titled ‘how people float’ drawn from an impression the speaker did on stage, fish was not in demonstration.

It was a fabulous day and I got to meet some wonderful people. Right towards the end I found out that I was going to receive a certificate for my CPD (continual professional development) achievement over the last year with others, which I then spent the last hour worrying about going up the front. Typical of me! The AGM (annual general meeting) after the main conference also had the very exciting announcement that I have been appointed the Student Representative on the Council for the AAPT. This mean some hard work but I’m so looking forward to working with the Council going forward. I guess this is also a good time to announce that, all things going to plan, I will be starting my full training course in February 2019. It’s going to be a very exciting time coming up!

CPD certificate and my mugshot on the council listing!

Sadly I didn’t get to attend the evening event, I had to get home early but I was also a little grateful for other commitments. When your last talk of the day is about boat disasters and pulling bodies out of the Thames, a not very confident swimmer like me would be a little anxious about a party on a riverboat!!

I’d like to take an opportunity to thank the hard working people of the AAPT who put together and awesome conference again this year. I loved every minute and I am very much looking forward to the next one in Edinburgh in 2019!

MG x

Rippleside Cemetery

Rachel and I went on a little adventure yesterday in search of a gravestone at Rippleside Cemetery in Upney in East London. 9 minutes on the tube from my home was well worth the effort. Rippleside is slightly hidden up the road from Upney tube station just one stop away from Barking on the district line. It has a small gate and a sign that is overgrown by shrubbery opposite a Ford car dealership. I went there in search of a man called John Crosby for reasons I will explain another time (intriguing? Yes!) but i can thoroughly recommend a wander if you’re ever in the area.

I should have reminded them their sign was slowly becoming part of the hedge!

I stood by the map sign at the entrance obviously looking a little perplexed when an older gentleman with a kind smile pulled up on a ride on lawn mower and asked if I was okay. I explained I was looking for a grave but I had nothing but a name, a date of death and a number that didn’t appear to correspond to anything in particular. He said the office was shut but he could go in and help me out, so he went off round the back and I waited out the front. As I was waiting a woman in a suit came out of the office and told me it was shut quite abruptly. Then the man popped his head round the door and said ‘Come on in!’. Lesson learned- sometimes the staff who are supposed to help are not that helpful, but those in other jobs are actually much better at it!

Once inside, he pulled out a dusty ledger book and we found 1921 with Mr. Crosby’s entry. The plot number was there but in traditional, beautiful script style it could have been a letter J, G, or L! He said the row number was what was important so off we trotted to the correct row in the hope of locating him.

On the way he showed me the first grave in the cemetery; a simple cross for a 6 day old little girl from 1886 huddled in amongst all the other graves in that area. One other thing he showed me was a huddle of graves to the side all tightly packed, he explained these were remains taken from Barking Abbey by St. Margaret’s church in Barking and relocated here. He said he had wanted to line them all up against the fence so you could read them but he was told they could not be moved from the relocated remains. He is such a fascinating gentleman I think I need to revisit and get his name to credit him properly!

The huddled gravestones from St. Margaret’s/Barking Abbey

Alas, John Crosby’s gravesite was used twice again after he was placed there. It was last used in the 1970s and probably bought by that family. However he will still be down there with his two new neighbours in death. It is very common for graves to be reused like this is no known relatives or grave markers are present. It’s unlikely John had a permanent grave marker or known family and therefore his plot would have come up for use again after a certain amount of time.

I felt bad that I had arranged to meet Rachel there but all this had happened before she arrived! However we did go for a long walk around he cemetery and made friends with a carnation munching squirrel. While over the other side of the site, the man pulled up on the lawnmower once again with a printout he had found. It wasn’t a J, G or an L but an I and he had all the details of the what had happened to the plot. I really can’t thank him enough for his help!

It’s a lovely little cemetery with some impressive architecture and grave markers. I’ll be sure to go back again too because I noticed some family names like those on my Mum’s family tree that she now would like to go see.

Rachel and the fearless, carnation-munching squirrel

Thank you for reading and I hope this post was interesting to you! I will explain more about John Crosby and his importance another time, I wanted this post to focus on Rippleside. I also now want to go visit the remains of Barking Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church which I might try to do next week or on the Bank Holiday.

MG x

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