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William Hague was the big draw at the Optix conference

The Optix Software annual business conference is always a great event with world-class speakers and personalities taking to the stage to entertain and enlighten hundreds of Optix customers. This year was no exception with former Conservative leader William Hague pleasantly surprising everyone with how charismatic and funny he actually is, especially for a politician!

William Hague opened his talk on Budget day by recounting a humorous story when he, along with the then Chancellor Norman Lamont, smuggled a bottle of Highland Park whiskey out of 11 Downing Street in the Budget Box that was held up in front of national press for the obligatory Budget Day picture. Meanwhile William Hague, his then Parliamentary Private Secretary, carried the actual Budget speech under his arm.
Avant-garde speaker, Chris Baréz Brown, who has worked with Coca-Cola, ITV and The Guardian, was another real hit with the delegates and had his work cut out as the first morning speaker following a gala dinner. But he soon won over a rather jaded audience with a few rather off-the-wall exercises, like writing down where you have your most creative thoughts on a piece of paper before scrunching it up and pelting them at him on stage!

The 9th annual Optix conference was held at the five-star Celtic Manor Resort, in Newport, which has played host to world leaders including David Cameron and Barack Obama at the NATO summit in 2014 and golfing legends during the Ryder Cup in 2010.
Other inspiring speakers during the two-day conference included, Dave Fishwick, the man behind Channel 4 TVs ‘The Bank of Dave’, who revealed during his talk that he will soon be receiving his banking licence, the first issued in 120 years. After hearing him speak, I have total admiration for his can-do attitude, which must be a good thing for the banking industry to encourage more of an entrepreneurial spirit and hopefully get people feeling positive about Great Britain again!

Debra Searle gave a truly emotional talk about her awe-inspiring and gruelling three-and-half month journey when she rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. In recognition, The Queen awarded Debra an MBE for her achievement in 2002 and in 2014 she was appointed Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) for her work with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I had to give myself a real talking to after listening to her story, as how hard can doing Tough Mudder really be? I’ll keep you posted!
Also sharing the stage was after-dinner speaker Miles Jupp, who is the new host of The News Quiz on BBC 4, he’s also performed at The National Theatre and for those with children they may remember him from the Harry Potter film, Order of the Phoenix and as Archie from Balamory on CBeebies!

At the gala dinner held on the second evening it wasn’t all about drinking and dancing to the live band, as over £6,500 was generously pledged for Vision Care for the Homeless, a charity which provides eye care services to homeless and other vulnerable people.

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