– What People Said –

ABout Comms Unplugged 2017

“Loved every minute!”

“I really didn't expect to come back from the field with new friends and the sense of belonging I have now.”

“I feel a part of something quite special.”

“Comms Unplugged made me think more about what I want out of life, what I want to happen next…”

“The quality of the shared experience was brilliant. nobody was distracted by their phones, we were all in the moment, making friends.”

“Really, really made a difference to my wellbeing.”

“1,000 gold stars at least!”

“I was in tears at work the week before due to stress. I've dealt with far more stressful situations since with a far better (wellbeing) approach!”

“Allowing us this time makes us feel valued as employees and improves morale, loyalty and commitment…”

“I really liked not hearing from ‘comms people’ - they were people who understood the power of good communication, but weren't in the job as such. It was refreshing.”

“Really feel like I took more away than I usually do from a conference. Excellent speakers, v on point.”

“The workshops were highly interactive, which was brilliant.”

“I liked the fact that some of the sessions talked about digital, but in an analogue session. And I wasn't thinking about what to tweet during the sessions. I was fully in the moment.”

What you got for your money

Not only could Comms UnPlugged be the comms professionals' event of the year, we think the ticket prices and options define it as the most cost-effective one too. Here's why…

Everyone got…

Whether you're joining us on Thursday evening for the whole two-night shebang, Friday morning for a day and night getaway, or on a cheeky day ticket, your booking includes a full day of what promises to be a truly different and compelling line up. Friday features an inspiring professional development agenda plus a heap of wellbeing options which, combined, will motivate, excite, relax and energise you. Oh, and a tasty open-air lunch.

Friday overnighters also got…

Evening acoustic sets round the camp fires and woken up with the option of a brisk (or leisurely - your choice!) walk in the Dorset countryside on Saturday morning - after your freshly-cooked bacon or veggie bap, of course!

Thursday overnighters also got…

All of the above, plus Friday brekky.

In short, from just £109 for public sector people you got, 2 nights camping accommodation, a day and a half of professional development and wellbeing, in a unique environment, with four meals.

Eating in the fresh air somehow makes everything tastes just that little bit better, don't you think? At Comms Unplugged, we found some fab local caterers to prepare and serve tasty food to our lovely delegates, out in the open (we hope - marquees provide a back-up plan)

With bacon or veggie baps for breakfast, filled rolls for lunch and a selection of wood-fired pizzas on offer for dinner, the Comms Unplugged culinary offer promises to be a treat.

• 2017 Headliner Highlights •

  • Exclusive live music
  • Inspirational speakers
  • Camping under the stars
  • Tasty local food
  • Woodland walks
  • Wellbeing activities
  • Workshops in the wilderness
  • Career enhancing pursuits
  • Learning and development time out
  • ‘Calm under canvas’ activities
  • Enter the ‘Vent Tent’
  • Connect and network with comms folk

– Keynote Speaker –

– Workshop / Leaders –

– Activities –

– Entertainment –

– Food & Drink –


Let Irena Beniston guide you through a non-challenging, not-too-serious hour of hatha yoga. Fresh with ideas from her 2017 visit to an Indian Ashram, Irena's natural warmth will have you relaxing into a downward dog in no time. Please bring mats / towels and wear comfortable, loose clothing.

No twitter - far too yogi :-)


Kerrie Maitland — Work and Life Coach

After a successful international career in HR, the loss of her mum led Kerrie to re-evaluate her life and her career. Having had enough of the corporate world, Kerrie returned to the UK and established her own wellbeing organisation, Positive Dimensions. Kerrie retrained as a Life Coach and Pilates Instructor and now works with clients in private sessions, community classes and local gyms throughout Dorset.

Fresh Air Fridays

Here at Fresh Air Fridays we teach simple tools and techniques to improve people's understanding of how to support their own wellbeing. We do this through taking groups of people outside into nature and exploring 12 key themes in a way that allows them to build good habits to enjoy healthier, happier lives with greater purpose and joy!

From ‘Filling Yourself Up First’ to stretching our ‘Comfort Zones’ and deciding who we want in ‘Our Team’, our proven programme explores different aspects of wellbeing - encouraging personal responsibility and building resilience which helps people create more open, trusting relationships with their colleagues and customers.

We're excited to be part of the very first Comms Unplugged event and will run ‘taster’ sessions so you can experience this for yourself. We'd love to show you what we're all about and how Fresh Air Fridays could support you and your teams!


– 2017 Sponsors –

– 2017 Charities –

In 2017 we supported Dorset Mind and Dorset Wildlife Trust as they fit so well into the ethos of Comms Unplugged.

Our raffle, which offered prizes worth a total of over £2000, raised over £500 between the two charities and we aim to do even better next year.

– 2017 Organisers –

Sally Northeast

Deputy Director for OD, Communication and Participation at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.

After a degree in languages I trained to be a journo at the local paper in my home town. A few years later I hopped the fence into local gov comms, with a stint as a freelance and finally a move to the NHS.

Love the variety and the challenges of public sector comms and engagement, and the great people you get to work with. Value great writing, good humour, funky ideas and positive relationships.

Outside work it's two girls, one dog, one guinea pig, baking, singing (Rock Choir), movies, books, drawing, codeword puzzles and travel.

Georgia Turner

I am Shared Head of Communication and Marketing, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole.

I studied a PR degree in my hometown of Bournemouth, which included a placement at the council. I loved it so much I went back after the obligatory post-graduation travelling and haven't left since!

After a dabble in the glamping business for a couple of seasons just two years ago (alongside my full time job at Bournemouth - what was I thinking?), I realised that the grass really wasn't greener, even in a glamping field, and embraced my job with newfound enthusiasm & appreciation. Why wouldn't I? I love the unending change, the requisite drive for creativity, and the innovation & commitment I see each day… oh, and I get to live by the sea.

Out of work passions - travel, conservation, food, wine, and my cat Marble.

Victoria Ford

Director at Perago-Wales

Victoria has over 15 years senior level experience of communications, engagement and change in the public sector. From heading large operational areas to leading an award winning communication team.

Victoria is an experienced communication and engagement professional who brings focus to organisational strategy and puts people and culture at the centre of complex change. A fair weather camper who survives under canvas with a pillow and gin.

Sara Hamilton

Sara Hamilton is the comms manager for the district council in the beautiful New Forest, was previously the long-serving comms manager in Hemel Hempstead, and was educated in Dorset.

Enthusiastic about local govt comms, people with a reasonable approach, coffee, cardigans, oxford commas, and pandas - she's oft described as endlessly energetically enthusiastic. She's on the tweeter sometimes @mrssarahamilton and has an ancient but lovable Bongo campervan, a patient husband, and tweenage twins.

Darren Caveney

My son claims I “work on The Twitter”. But really, I am a communications consultant, creator of comms2point0, and owner of Creative Communicators Ltd.

My 21-year career in communications, marketing and PR spans 10 years as Head of Communications within local government, a director level role in the NHS and five years in private sector marketing, winning some awards with my teams along the way.

I have hosted and spoken at more than 100 events across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, on integrating social media for business, building communications and engagement strategies, and communicating in a digital world.

And amongst many, many projects I am most proud to deliver the unique annual UnAwards, now in their fourth year.

I love the communications community and my mission is to fly a flag for it wherever possible.

I'm also passionate about all things Birmingham, including our very average football team, and in between trying to be a decent dad I love music, film & TV, cooking, trips to the seaside and the occasional visit to the gym.

Say hello to me at @darrencaveney and @comms2point0

Chris Elias

Chris is an experienced Head Of Internal Communications with a demonstrated track record of leading internal communications in government through major change programmes.

Chair of Engage for Success Wales group.

Skilled in Employee Engagement, creative thinking, leadership, strategic communications and Marketing. Strong communication professional with IOIC diploma in Internal Communications, TEDx organiser and MCIPR.

Say hello @ChrisEliasUK

Ceri Lewis

Communications and PR Manager, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils

After completing my multi-media journalism degree at Bournemouth University I naturally headed straight for local government - nine years and four jobs later, I'm still here and loving it.

I've worked for three different councils in Dorset and I'm very lucky that part of my current role includes marketing two of Dorset's most stunning locations - Highcliffe Castle and Moors Valley Country Park.

Born and bred in Poole, I love nothing more on a sunny day than cycling to the beach and enjoying a gin (Conker!) and tonic while looking out over the Purbecks. I also love heading back to my Grandad's homeland to cheer on the Welsh boys playing rugby.