Swansea University played host to a landmark event on June 11th, 2024, as the Climb Summit brought together graduating Climb delegates, healthcare leaders, and inspirational figures for a day of celebration and reflection.

The Climb programme, delivered by the Dragon’s Heart Institute as part of the All-Wales Intensive Learning Academy for Innovation in Health and Social Care, empowers emerging leaders across various sectors in Wales, including health, social care and the third sector to address the greatest challenges facing society today as well as those over the horizon.

Over the course of the past ten months, the Climb cohort have had teaching from international experts such as Professor Hahrie Han at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, bonded as a group through unique experiences such as planning and performing a circus performance, and been pushed out of their comfort zones in immersive experiences designed by the Welsh Military.

This year’s Climb Summit showcased the programme’s impact through a series of engaging “Ed-Talks” delivered by the graduating delegates themselves, using a novel “silent disco” conference style.

These talks provided a platform for the graduates to share their experiences, highlight the leadership skills they’ve honed through the Climb program, and outline the positive changes they plan to implement within their systems.

Keynote speeches from a powerhouse line-up added further to the day. Suzanne Rankin, Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale UHB, Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, Carol Shillabeer, Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr UHB and Phil Kloer, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, all provided valuable insights and emphasized the crucial role Climb graduates will play in shaping the future of Wales.

But the inspiration didn’t stop there. Adventurers Tori James, a record-breaking mountaineer, and Peter Hillary, son of the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary, shared their experiences of pushing boundaries and overcoming challenges – a fitting theme for a group embarking on their own leadership adventure.

Dr Fergus Wood, a climb graduate from cohort three said, “Climb has given me so much over the past year but chief among them was an opportunity to meet such an amazing group of people, not just the tutors but the fantastic members of the cohort and the Dragon’s Heart Institute team. Everything in the year really built towards the summit and created an environment where 30 strangers could stand on a huge stage and tell stories to challenge and inspire – and I was so impressed with the presentations of my colleagues! I am so privileged to have met these people and call them my friends and I look forward to collaborating in the future! Climb has helped me progress into a person who felt passionate about something and comfortable presenting their story – I could not have done it a year ago.”

Alex Hicks, Network Manager – Women’s Health and Children’s Health at NHS Wales Executive, said, “The Climb Leadership Programme has been an amazing and profound experience. For me, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet and develop lasting relationships with inspirational leaders from across health and care in Wales, whilst also benefiting from quality Welsh and international experts on a range of insightful topics over the time with the programme. I feel like I have arrived at basecamp and I am looking forward to the rest of the journey with my Climb friends in the years to come, as I start my new career in NHS Wales.”

Ruth Jordan, Dragon’s Heart Institute lead, said, “The Climb Summit 2024 wasn’t just a one-day event; it was a powerful symbol of the programme’s success. The graduating delegates leave Climb equipped with the skills and vision to tackle our society’s complex challenges, fostering collaboration, innovation, and ultimately, a healthier future for all of Wales. As the Climb programme continues to develop future leaders, Wales can look forward to networks of empowered people, ready to take up the next challenge.”

Judith Paget, NHS Wales Chief Executive and Director General Health, Social Care and Early Years, said “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to attend the Climb Summit and witness first-hand the enthusiasm shown by the participants who are fantastic role models for their colleagues and for the themes of compassion and collaboration that were discussed at the event.  It is so important to NHS Wales that we have these leadership networks forming to harness the potential of our extremely talented staff in order to ensure we are able to respond to the future demands on our system and provide high quality, safe healthcare for the people of Wales.”

Bryn Kentish
Written by:
Bryn Kentish