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Future gazing and hindsight are a funny thing...

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Blog by John Wade, managing director, Bromford Support

I work at Bromford. A social business.

Every year at Bromford we try and get the whole organisation together just for one day. It's a chance to meet old friends and make new ones to celebrate what we've achieved over the last year, hear some amazing stories, look to the future and have a bit of fun. We call this gathering the Bash.

This year's Bash took place at the ICC in Birmingham and was rather special. This year, like Dr Who, we are celebrating our 50th birthday. 50 years of changing lives.

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With the use of photos, video, colleagues on stage, interviews and customer stories we recounted our first 50 years from a group of three professionals who thought they should do something to help respond to the housing shortage in 1960's Castle Bromwich to our first employee Ken Burton in the 1970s, the housing market package in the 1990s, HomeZone and Fosseway joining the family and the growth of Bromford Support and supporting people in the early 2000’s.


The day ended with what we believe is the UK's biggest Harlem Shake kicked off by CEO Mick Kent wearing a Star Wars mask. The video is here if you don't believe me.


As colleagues swarmed out of the ICC and into the bars along Broad Street the general consensus was that this was the best Bash ever - people were on a high proud of what Bromford has achieved and blown away by stories of lives changed in 2012 and beyond.

(To get a real sense of the atmosphere check out the hashtag #Bash2013 on twitter).

So all's fine and dandy in Bromford land then.

I was flicking through some family photos last night and came across some of a day out to see the Damien Hirst show at the Tate Modern last year. It reminded me of his piece: 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.’  It's easy to be sniffy about Hirst. To many he represents the 'King’s new clothes' end of modern art and to lots inside the art world he is just a shallow sell out. But seeing his retrospective reminded me just how good his best work is.

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I think ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death…’ is genius.

The title seems to say it all until you actually walk into the gallery and experience it.  As the New York Times wrote in 2007: "The shark is simultaneously life and death incarnate in a way you don't quite grasp until you see it, suspended and silent in its tank."

Imagine you are a Wolves fan on the afternoon of 7 May 1960. Your team has just won the FA Cup by a three-goal margin; you have finished second in the top tier - just one point behind Burnley and won the title in the two previous seasons. You feel invincible. There is no stopping the mighty Wolves. Life doesn't get much better than this does it? Well no, you're right it doesn't! In fact in the next 53 years Wolves have never won another major tournament. They've been relegated eight times; spent 14 seasons in the second tier, two in the third flight and even dipped into the fourth tier of English football briefly in the late 1980's. If you had predicted this future you would have been hard pushed to find anyone in the Wembley crowd of 98,954 who would have believed you that sunny afternoon in 1960.

So what of Bromford? What of these Bromford colleagues - part of an organisation at the top of its game? How will their celebration and confidence look with the benefit of another 50 years hindsight? Only time will tell of course.

But #Bash2013 was no smug, festival of self-congratulation. It was a celebration. A celebration of the lives of our customers and how they overcome challenges and barriers to realise their dreams and ambitions. It was a celebration of the power of change and innovation to keep the buzz for colleagues and to help find new, relevant ways of connecting with our customers and changing lives.

In another 50 years I'll be long gone but I have a sneaky feeling that somewhere another group of creative, passionate Bromford colleagues will be gathering to hold #Bash2063. 

Author: John Wade

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