My name is Corinne and I’m an alcoholic. I am one of the six Conference Delegates for South Midlands region and sit on Committee 6. Service has kept me sober from the day that I surrendered and committed to the 12 step programme. It has saved me from self-pity and fear, along with ensuring I remain seated right in the ‘middle of the boat’. I am hugely grateful for the life I have today and my sobriety. Our primary purpose, fellowship and wonderful programme will always come first before anything else.

I felt truly privileged to represent our region this year at the a53rd Annual General Service Conference of AA GB.  I was both nervous and excited at the prospect and whilst I was familiar with the ‘Questions for Conference’ process I didn’t really know what to expect.  I felt very humbled and like a ‘newcomer’ which was good for my sobriety and my ego!  In the true spirit of AA, those who are new to conference are welcomed with open arms and have a ‘red dot’ marked on their name/ committee badge.  This encourages more experienced AAs to come over and speak and introduce themselves.  I found this very reassuring and met people from all over the country, Europe and even the world before the proceedings even began.

I was amazed at the efficiency and running of conference, which made me think about tradition 8 differently than I had before.  None of the work to pull conference together would have been possible without employing special workers at GSO. Greeters had been organised to welcome us and comprehensive ‘conference packs’ had been thoughtfully put together which contained an agenda and room plan for the weekend, along with copies of sub-committee and board reports. Venue arrangements and logistics had been carefully considered additional service duties such as Committee Chairs/ Secretaries and Tellers (who count votes) allocated, which helped to keep everything running on time and in order. 

Attending conference is both exhilarating and exhausting and I needed to prepare myself with a good understanding of the questions and my region’s responses beforehand. Friday consisted of registration and reception, followed by the opening session where all conference attendees sat in one big room where conference was formally opened. The atmosphere was fantastic and I took in every word, keen to learn more about how service functioned at this level. This was followed by the first of the committee meetings in a different room, where I met my fellow committee members and discussion around the questions we were allocated began, with the aim of formulating our committee responses. Lively debate ensued and I had to remember my role as a trusted servant, for example if my region held a view that conflicted with the general view of the committee I had to ensure I put this across.

The evening session was held again collectively in the big room and the board reports presented and committee chair nominations made.  Highlights included reviewing the year’s finances and listening to our non-alcoholic trustee speak. We voted on a number of items such as approving new AA literature, using large coloured cards identifying our committee which were counted by tellers.

Committee meetings continued on Saturday afternoon where we finalised our initial responses to questions, followed by another group session in the evening where more board reports were presented. We were also shown the new PI videos which were received with love, emotion and enthusiasm. Following the board reports an open session was held, providing delegates with the opportunity to ask about anything that was not covered by the QFC process. This included one of our regional delegates asking about PayPal payments which compromised anonymity.

We then met back in our regions for the first time, to present our committee responses, which had already been printed at speed and provided in the form of ‘preliminary reports’. This enabled us to collate and take back to our committees any further comments. The final committee session followed where we amended our responses following feedback form all of the region. This went late into the Saturday night and I was again overwhelmed at how AA works, in that we were eventually able to put together response that we agreed on and that the views of the fellowship as a whole are accounted for.

Committee responses were then presented at the Sunday morning session, where we all sat again in the big room and voted on them to ensure they were either passed/ not passed. The end result being the responses that have since been published in AA service news. A vote was cast to elect a chair for conference 2019 from the 6 committee chairs, in which Matt from Continental Europe Region was successful.  New board members were also confirmed and a final closing address made.

When I first started got sober and became a member of AA, I never thought I would even be able to share let alone chair an AA meeting or take on the responsibility of intergroup post. I have been sponsored into service with love and guidance and am most grateful to my sponsor and other members who have walked the path before me for carrying the message of service, which has given me the life of sobriety I have today. If I can do service as group, intergroup, region and conference level anyone can. Chat to your sponsor and your home group members and get involved, even if you just come along to intergroup or region to observe – you would be most welcome. Attending conference has helped me to fully understand what it means to be a ‘trusted servant’ and I have a better knowledge of AA GBs structure and our traditions.  I am really look forward to attending next year on behalf of our region.

By Corinne C

Experience of Conference