It is that time of year again when the London Perl Workshop, the United Kingdom Perl Workshop, is just a few days away and all that my mind can focus on is the event and whether I can pull off a success once again.

Well, I say ‘I’ in a rather immodest fashion. It is true that I organise the LPW from the remote shores of sunny Lancaster a good three hundred miles from the London location. It is also true that I take the lion’s share of the initial work and build up to the event in terms of organising website, location, sponsors, programme, speakers, news items, announcements, design of media, etcetera. But it is unfair to indicate that this is in any way a singular effort.

There are always people who help out at the London Perl Workshop, and these days there are people who consider it their duty to arrange a task. There are also those who engage in the workshop as sponsors or supporting our efforts. I would like to introduce you to some of them.

Steve and Martin, who are Clues/antibodyMX start the LPW each year at the social of the previous year when firstly they commit to being sponsors. This is a regular thing for them, and it is always a delight when they come on board. But it doesn’t stop there as Martin will always help out on the day. This year he is also offering a free breakfast to volunteers on the morning of the event, and he will be in command of Lecture Room 1 on the day. Steve, who is a London native, takes it on himself to arrange the pub and liaise with them for the evening social. This task would be difficult to do well remotely, Steve makes it look easy.

Dave Cross is a constant firm supporter and active participant in the Workshop. Each year that I have organised this event Dave has run a workshop and prepared excellent talks that fit within the theme. He is a true hero and his consistency, quality and intelligence are to be admired. Dave has been joined in recent years by Ian Norton, Duncan Garland and Andrew Solomon who have also written and presented workshops and tutorials making the LPW a more valuable event.

We have Marcus, and the excellent chaps at Exonetric, who have come to be known as our morning break sponsors. Marcus takes it onto his own head to organise the morning break and supply a whole plethora of tasty cupcakes as well.

Then there are the people who staff the reception desk. This is a thankless task and it is also dull and hectic in equal measure. There are a number of people to thank here as they all have contributed over the years, Steve, Leigh, Chrissie, Tim, Ian and Claire. Your help has been amazing.

On the day I am always joined by a plethora of volunteers, Leon, t0m, Billy, Avi, David, Jess, Mike and many others return and offer their help.

Sean has been a constant support and help at the university and is a prime reason as to why we have been successful over the years, I have the utmost regard and respect for a very busy man who lends help without pause.

At this point I can only think of the speakers. There have been so many of these that listing them would look like a who’s who of the Perl world. Every year I have new speakers who I have never met and old friends who conjure some magic and interest despite their busy lives. It isn’t easy preparing a talk, it is always amazing when I have people who create several that they wish to give. These people are all heroes to me, they make the event possible and they do all the hard work themselves, they even pay their own way. I cannot thank them either deeply or sincerely enough.

The workshop is a free event, we like to think that you can buy your own t-shirt, and your own food and drink, and until my reign (of terror) started the was a sense that even sponsors were just tolerated and that this was pure grass roots. Well, I apologise, but in growing the conference I have also grown the need for more sponsorship. These days we can no longer blag a free room for the day, we pretty much take over a section of the building, using two theatres, two rooms and a lab. We also need tea, coffee and snacks in the day as many people skip breakfast to get to the event early. The university have to charge for the provision of rooms and services and so we must find the money to cover these costs.

More numbers also equals a larger evening budget and the LPW has been known to drink a pub clean of its best ales on several years. There is no absolute requirement to supply a complimentary beverage and snacks in the evening, but it is a tradition and Perl people like to discuss over their preferred tipple with a tasty piece of snackage and I like to give them that. Even more it is nice to give them something for free, it encourages people to socialise and the Workshop is as much social event as technical.

We also have the booklet, banner, print outs, schedules, labels, lanyards and all manner of smaller costs that people expect to see even if they are not necessary but just appreciated. These also cost money and time to produce, so we now have a media budget.

Sponsors, therefore, have come to add the roundness to the event. They smooth off elements allowing us to provide a richer experience with more variety and size. They also allow business to contribute to a community and to engage it in an open and free atmosphere. This is essential for the further integration of business and community, the whole world is finally coming to realise that there is a need for social marketing, they are even calling it a revolution! We have been engaging in this practice for years and this event allows that to be furthered.

So, our sponsors have become an essential component to the running of a great event. They add many elements to the mix and are chosen not just because they provide the fiscal support we require but because their engagement changes the whole shape of the conference. I have nothing but the deepest regard and fondness for all the sponsors who have supported us, and I hope will continue to support the community in the future, I certainly will be trying to tap them up for more money :).

Thinking of sponsors makes me think of my own company. I am fortunate to be in the position to juggle time, it isn’t easy as I have to play catch up quite a lot after the event. I am also fortunate that the staff I work with are supportive, helpful, intelligent, resourceful and complimentary about my efforts. The company has been a firm leader in the need for integrating business and community, I feel we get that right. I want it to be known that a lot of effort is done by all the staff to make this possible and it would be impossible for me to do it without.

Now I have to run and get back to all the last minute things I haven’t done yet, I hope to see you on the day, with over three hundred people registered, this is the biggest LPW so far. And I have also started to plan the fun I will be indulging in next year… :)