Champions of Sheffield’s thriving conference scene gathered for a dinner in celebration of the Sheffield Ambassador Programme’s 10th anniversary on Wednesday evening.

Professionals from the fields of academia, medicine, arts and science enjoyed the magnificent surroundings of the University of Sheffield’s Firth Hall for the Sheffield Conference Ambassador Dinner, an annual event that celebrates the conference advocates who help bring large scale business events to the city.

Sheffield’s conference market generates a huge amount for the local economy; it is estimated to be worth £113million to the city and the ambassador programme alone has brought in events valued close to £30million to the local economy over the last six years.

The programme, which is run by Marketing Sheffield (part of Sheffield City Council), aims to boost business tourism even further and encourage the city’s leading lights to bring their industry’s biggest and best meetings to Sheffield.

The headline speaker at this year’s special anniversary dinner was Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Marcus told guests how his passion for mathematics first began – thanks to a teacher who opened up the subject by showing him how it connected to so many other things. A lesson he believes can apply to all professions.

“We often tend to think of ourselves in silos but our subjects are all connected really,” he said. “Mathematics, for example, is linked to nature, music, history and lots more. It’s therefore so important to establish collaboration across disciplines, and Sheffield has strength in a multitude of areas – sports, arts and manufacturing, to name just a few.”

Marcus is putting this idea into practice by working with a local primary school to explore the links between maths education and theatre. He’ll also be back in Sheffield next May when he combines music and maths at the Crucible theatre for Music in the Round.

Ambassadors Matthew Malek, Lecturer in Experimental Particle Physics at the University of Sheffield, and Marta Cohen, Consultant Paediatric Pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, were two of the ambassadors chosen for the promotion of the 10th anniversary celebrations this year and also gave talks at the dinner.

Matthew said: “As a particle physicist I have worked on projects all over the world since leaving New York City, but I now plan to stay in Sheffield. I really enjoy bringing people to Sheffield – it’s one of the biggest cities in England and we have a first class university. Our modest reputation doesn’t always reflect how good we are so I love being able to bring my contacts from around the world here and show them how great Sheffield is.”

Matthew is currently working on a brand new collaboration – the launch of which will, naturally, be in Sheffield. This event is the third he’s been involved in since coming to Sheffield two years ago and he praises the Ambassador Programme for helping him make them all possible.

David Sanders, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Professor of Gastroenterology, is one of Sheffield’s most prolific conference ambassadors. His Sheffield Gastroenterology Symposium is the biggest of its kind and regularly welcomes upwards of 200 delegates to the city. He is a great advocate of hosting conferences in Sheffield.

“Conferences are to research what the cinema is to books – a quick and easy way of absorbing a lot of information in an engaging way and Sheffield is a fantastic venue for this,” said David.

“The Sheffield Ambassador Programme gives you a great insight into Sheffield beyond your hospital and what the aspirations are of the city. I’ve found it so useful, I’ve introduced a number of other people.”

Emma France of Marketing Sheffield relished the opportunity to celebrate a decade of the programme’s success this year. “It’s easy to forget the impact conferencing has on Sheffield as we work year-round to support our ambassadors in bringing some incredible events to the city. But these figures show just important they are to our local economy.

“And it’s not just the big event venues and hotels that benefit, as there’s often lots of fringe activity around these type of association events. A great example is the recent BOAFAS conference where, in addition to the main event at Sheffield City Hall, the organisers also hired out the whole top floor restaurant of The Botanist, Sheffield.

“As our 10th anniversary celebrations come to an end, we’re looking ahead to an even brighter future of industry-leading events being held in Sheffield. Our fantastic city is home to so many extraordinary people and we can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeves for the coming years. And, as ever, we’ll be there to support them every step of the way.”

Those interested in becoming a Sheffield Conference Ambassador should contact Gemma Tissington at Marketing Sheffield on 0114 273 5978 or Or visit

Picture caption, left-to-right: Marta Cohen, Consultant Paediatric Pathologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital; Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Gemma Tissington of Marketing Sheffield; Edward Highfield, Director of City Growth; and Gavin Brown, Head of Commercial Services at the University of Sheffield

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