About this time last year, I was at Positive Choices #PCPC18 – an annual conference for Student Learning Disability Nurses – where I ran mini workshops about the importance of inclusive communication and Makaton.
At the conference I lead a Makaton signed welcome message to a full lecture theatre, this got me thinking - Could this be a World Record?!
Fast forward to January 2019, I started planning my activities for Positive Choices #PCPC19 and natural curiosity led me to check out the Guinness World Records Listings. I found a Record listing for Most People Signing Simultaneously Using Makaton. The record had never been attempted so the level was automatically set at 250 people. I took the plunge and applied to attempt the record, after a nail biting 12 weeks I eventually got the criteria guidelines, just in time for #PCPC19.
All Stations Go! The following days were full of room layout planning, colour zoning areas, sourcing stopwatches, wristband and a Klaxon, as well as the 20 volunteers needed to control and audit the attempt. I am certain I caused numerous headaches for the conference organiser Andrea Page from Birmingham City University, who were hosting the conference.
To meet the criteria, I needed Tutors who could sign off that Makaton was been used throughout the attempt and so I put a request for help on Facebook and via Debbie Twigg at the Makaton Charity. I was so grateful to receive offers to help from fellow Tutors and would like to thank Anne Bacon, Rebecca Thompson, Gabriella Roudvey and Caroline Russell for their support and help – without their generosity the attempt could not have been made.
At 9.30 on the 26th April, with all volunteers and clipboards in place, we did it! Watch the video to see what happened:
The attempt itself was amazing. Over the past 12 months, my daughter Alice and I have been campaigning for the use of Makaton across the NHS, so we were overwhelmed to see a room full of Student LD Nurses signing.
We were also privileged to have the support of Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officers for NHS UK signing with us from the front row. After the attempt Ruth pledged her support for a NHS Makaton Champions Network that we are launching later this year.
After collecting all the paperwork and video footage, and confirming with our independent auditors we were ready to consult with the Guinness World Record contact. The news was that we have just missed out on breaking the record set at 250 people – so whilst we are not official Record Breakers we still smashed it!
We still achieved our primary objective of raising awareness of the use of Makaton and further cemented use of Makaton within the NHS.
We are still determined to break the official Guinness World Record – so watch this space for future attempt news!
With thanks to Paven Khelg, Pardeep Kandola and staff at the H-Suite, Edgebaston, Dr Nicola Ashby, Andrew Glennon, Anne Bacon, Rebecca Thompson, Meritxell Marn Buznego, Joanne Lay, Louise Delany, Rebecca Boxall, Laura Roberts, Catherine Davies, Awen Hughes, Ffion Elen Jones, Esme Welbourne-Davies, Claire Howells, Gabriella Rouvray, Adam Wardon, Paula Richardson, Helen Laverty, Ross Sheridan, Angie Emyrs-Jones, Elizabeth Emrys-Jones, Jake Glennon, and Joe Glennon