To those of you familiar with the wide variety of the BSG’s activities, the long list of those activities outlined by Martin in this newsletter should come as no surprise. What I continue to appreciate as incoming President is the sheer wealth of talent and commitment available to the BSG from its members. Although my tenure as BSG Secretary taught me just how much how that talent drove the success of the Annual Conference, it’s the behind the scenes contributions, to guidelines development, consultation reviews; research workshops, developing patient public engagement through research, QI programmes and digital communication and market research with our members (GDPR compliant), which underpin the meeting and the visible presentation of the BSG’s profile. As Martin concludes ‘the hands making the ripples are not always seen.’

Likewise, the stewardship of the Presidency is a frequently unseen facilitation of all that the Society does: a guardianship and presentation of our members’ collaborative activity for the benefit of the wider Society. Martin’s understanding of this leadership role, his consummate skill as a chairman and his diligence to secure best governance for the Charity, has marked out his exceptional stewardship as President. All this with a sense of humour and challenge which has made BSG committees fun and effective!

At the heart of our Society the 3 main tenets of activity remain unchanged: the dissemination of research, education and clinical best practice. Engagement in that activity relies entirely on members giving freely of their own time to enhance and augment the BSG as a relevant and supportive professional organisation. Membership engagement is what guarantees the Society’s survival and without that commitment the value of the BSG as multi-disciplinary professional network would be diminished. 

The BSG has a duty to support its members to contribute at the highest level of their expertise, both in their daily professional lives and in their interactions with the Society. This is a real challenge in the changing landscape of the current NHS and the launch of the society-wide mentoring programme at the 2018 conference underscores the value the BSG places on providing professional development and support for its membership. 

The logistics of delivery, is the task of the BSG secretariat providing the operational arm of the BSG major work streams. This summer we say goodbye to long standing office staff as they progress their careers outside of the Society. Howard Ellison moves across to the RCP, whose incoming President is Gastroenterologist and BSG GDS Section Chair, Bod Goddard. John Haywood also leaves for pastures new and the BSG extends its thanks for their service and congratulations on their new roles. 

Natural turnover within an organisation is reflected not just in the Secretariat, but in the Trustee body. Two new lay Trustees join the ranks of a 13-strong trustee group and the importance of a balanced professional board with financial, investment, legal, communications and property skills for the good governance of our Charity, cannot be overemphasised. 

The Executive, section committees and Council also all undergo change. The Society will welcome a new Treasurer, CSSC Secretary, Education and Research Chairs, President Elect and VP Hepatology, all by competitive interview. Section and Council elections will see 36 new members appointed across 12 committees. As BSG members you have an opportunity to influence the composition and talent within these groups by self-nominating for these roles and by exercising your right to vote in the upcoming elections. For the first time this year we are offering online voting pre- conference and voting in person at the BSG conference stand. This is your opportunity to shape the BSG of the future.

To conclude, I come full circle to the President’s article referencing Stephen Hawking’s book “A Brief Moment in Time.” This poses a fascinating challenge to all of us to consider how we view our time and how it’s spent. The evolution of the philosophy and science of time itself has been intriguingly argued in Carlo Rovelli’s recent, new book, ‘The Order of Time,’ offering an exciting redefinition. 

‘We are time. We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside connections between our neurons.’ 

In essence, this tells us what I have long suspected: the BSG –defined by the time given by its Members: not a fixed framework but a living function of those activities and mental processes.   I am really looking forward to developing that definition with the membership: research, education and clinical best practice, defined by all of us, for the greater benefit of our patients.


Dr Cathryn Edwards