It is hard to comprehend that three years has passed so quickly with so many changes having occurred. When I took over as president we all assumed that we would be settled in our new home at Charles Darwin House (CDH) and we could focus solely on our plans to take the Society forward. Well as the phrase goes “the best laid plans”.
As history has shown, we were soon to face another upheaval and not one of our making! The dissolution of the CDH partnership took up a great deal of time and effort of the committee, officers and of course the staff. I would like to pay particular tribute to how, despite difficult circumstances, the office team kept the society and its activities running seamlessly – thank you so much. Our Chief Executive should also be singled out for praise! Dr Harper lead us all through the ups and downs of the dissolution of CDH, our part in the sale of the properties, all the legal aspects involved and also keeping the team together and functional. This was done with professionalism and at some personal cost in terms of the time and effort required, thank you Lucy from us all. We have since been able to relocate into the LABs complex in Holborn and the Society has settled into our new home well.
Despite these distractions we have still managed champion our objectives in terms of the priorities we have set ourselves. We have had fantastic activity in the areas of preserving and protecting the oceans, food safety and security, microbiomes, application of microbiology and biotechnology, Equality, diversity and inclusion and of course antimicrobial resistance. All these areas have been served brilliantly over the last three years with policy papers, events, discussions and promotion of the subject areas in various different for a and with great effect. The society has implemented a fellowship scheme which has to some extent underpinned some of these priority areas where we have admitted fellows based upon their contribution to given areas such as Dame Sally Davies, Lord Jim O’Neill and of course Sir David Attenborough. These have all been successful events that has raised the Society's profile and really cemented a lot of the excellent policy work that the society has been strongly involved with in recent times.
More recently, we have faced an issue that has really bought microbiology to the public consciousness but perhaps in a way we might not have wished. The outbreak of COVID-19 following the emergence of the SARs-CoV-2 virus has of course had a great effect on us all and SfAM is no different. We have had to learn to work remotely, we have halted our current events that were face to face and we are now looking to support our colleagues and members in perhaps different ways. However, we have adapted and we will continue to do so! Our excellent Early Career Scientist (ECS) group were the first to be affected. We took the decision early in the outbreak to cancel the ECS meeting but the ECS committee took “the lemons and made lemonade”! These resourceful folks turned the meeting to an online event in record time and made it a great success – I would like to record my great thanks to them all for doing so and making this work so quickly – a great example of what can be achieved. As a result of our isolation and subsequent social distancing our AGM and hand over of presidency will be a very different event this year. My last few months as president have not been as I would have wished. However, I am so proud that a number of our members and committee members have been involved in the response to COVID-19 on the frontline in the health service. Others have been involved activities including test development, test implementation and so on. Thank you to you all we are proud to have you as members and grateful for the difference you make! I would close with a final 'thank you' to all of you in every part of SfAM that make the Society what it is, the support you have shown the society and also the support that I have received during my time on committee and as president. Thank you. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and very best wishes to the incoming President Professor Brendan Gilmore.
The Society will go from strength to strength .