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Back on the road! My week in Belfast

Hunt ADR training - The class of Belfast 2021
The class of Belfast 2021

Earlier this month we saw the first Hunt ADR Mediator Skills Training programme delivered in person since March 2020 (thanks to COVID!). Belfast was the location, and we were delighted with the way it went and thank Quigg Golden LLP massively for their support as hosts.

It was a small group (the way I like it actually, it lends itself to building long lasting relationships with the group and for the members of the group themselves to bond far more easily than in larger groups). It also gave me the chance to meet some people in real life who have undertaken the course online during the pandemic.

On Day 1 I tried something new. With us now using the E-Learning portal to supplement training I went for a 12pm start, aiming to finish at 5pm – a nice short day to get the ball rolling. The reality was of course slightly different with us going on beyond 6pm – as I was reminded on the day, I had forgotten how much the lovely people of Northern Ireland like to speak!

Day 2 saw John Jarrett deliver his now legendary communications and interpersonal skills module. It is so good having John deliver day two as it gives participants a completely different view on the process of communication, possibly the most important skill set required of a mediator. John went strong for eight hours and if it wasn’t for the fact he needed to catch an evening flight I think the group would have kept him there for another three or four hours at least! For me this is such a vital day and a major USP of this course. It’s worth checking out some of John’s other training options here.

Presentation to Quigg Golden LLP
Presentation to Quigg Golden LLP

While John was busy with the group I was next door giving a presentation with questions to associates and partners at QG. This was an interesting one with around half a dozen in the room and another dozen or so online at the same time.

A great day ended with a curry and a Guinness with John Keers, Course Director LLM in International Commercial Law & ADR at the School of Law at Ulster University. John and I are members of an Academic Group in ADR along with colleagues from Universities of Warwick, Exeter, Hull, QMUL and Newcastle. John promised me the best curry in Belfast and that is what I got at Nu Delhi!

On Day 3 we were joined by some of those who trained initially online. It was great to meet in person at long last, as we did with others on Day 4. Day 3 though is the first day of immersive role playing and what a group we had for this. Sometimes people take time to ease in to role plays but such was the quality in this group that at times I lost myself in thinking I was watching a real mediation. This is a theme that continued through the week, with some role plays being really tense like the real thing! Another nice end to the day this time sharing a couple of pints of Guinness with Eddie Quigg and others from Quigg Golden in the Duke of York. Lovely pints, lovely pub, Eddie as ever great company.

Day 4 was much the same, another step up in terms of difficulty, but the group worked really well together and again there was tension in the air as they owned their own disputes. Fantastic to watch and to see how far they had come. At the end of the day I was picked up by my closest friend who happened to be in Northern Ireland this week, and we headed Ballymena way to see his family, including my Godson and niece (who is my wife’s Goddaughter). What a brilliant way to end the day.

Me with my Godson and Niece
Me with my Godson and Niece

Assessment Day. The day nobody thinks they will be ready for on Day 1 but by the Friday they are chomping at the bit to get going. Assessments are recorded and marked by an external assessor, so I don’t know yet whether they have passed or not, but I am very hopeful as this was a brilliant group that made me so glad to be back training in person once again.

Gavin Hendrie mediating like it was a real dispute
Gavin Hendrie mediating like it was a real dispute

Such was the feeling that week, coupled with enquiries for more training in Belfast that we have already agreed the next date with Quigg Golden, who will host us once again from 7th to 11th February 2022. If you want to secure your 2022 place at 2021 prices then register before the 31st December by emailing me. Places are limited so don’t wait too long.

I can’t wait to do it all again. Belfast is an amazing place full of friendly welcoming people and Quigg Golden are top hosts.

Footnote: I have to get a word in for my cycle for foodbanks initiative. Where possible I fitted in some cycling in the gym at the hotel and knocked off some more km's! See here for more details #cycleforfoodbanks

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