Let’s be honest, January is often the month people least look forward to. Christmas is over. It has been a long time since payday. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s wet. And then for 2021, Lockdown 3.0 has added its not insignificant icing to the cake. Yet as this month draws to a close, there are reasons to be positive and look forward to what 2021 has to offer.

For a start, although tragic figures from the pandemic continue to dominate the headlines the vaccination programme is running at full tilt with staggering quantities being delivered each minute. The restrictions on our working practice and lifestyles are having a positive impact - since the middle of January the daily infection rates have halved and death rates are stabilising. This is the peak and we’re moving past it.

Indeed, there is a sense of determined and renewed optimism within the events industry. The fact that come March 2021 we will have experienced a full 12 months without any business events at all having taken place only adds to the value face-to-face engagements possess. Virtual events (and hybrid as and when) have given business professionals an opportunity to interact throughout, but if anything, they have shown that the value of physical events is truly unique and very powerful. The reasons we launched AccountingWEB Live Expo (as highlighted by Sift CEO, Tom Dunkerly last month) remain as true as they ever were, if not even more significant.

There’s now a roadmap for events coming back in 2021. Organisers of large-scale events in June and beyond are optimistic about going ahead (including the industry’s own Exhibition News Awards), and peers in the security, engineering and healthcare sectors are certain their September events will go ahead. The Chelsea Flower Show being moved from May to October, rather than being cancelled is another strong indicator of confidence in Autumn events taking place.

When looking ahead it sometimes helps to look back to where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through. Context is everything. Nearly 12 months ago when I first addressed the AccountingWEB team about Covid-19 and its potential impact on AccountingWEB Live Expo we made sure not to speculate and took the stance of “we just don’t know”. Now, we know what we’re up against, the vaccination programme is accelerating at pace and the protocols and practices of safely dealing with the virus are well understood and versed.

There’s a compelling argument that the event in December will be stronger because of the pandemic and not just because of the novelty of being able to attend an event in person. During 2020 AccountingWEB reinforced its position as the lynchpin of the accounting community. Its Coronavirus Q&A sessions were immensely popular and extraordinarily valuable. They evolved in to AccountingWEB Live – an online series of regular shows that are now a permanent fixture within the portfolio. This will feed into the show come December – something no other organiser can offer.

It is difficult to take a step back amid all the doom and gloom in the media, but I strongly recommend you do and think to where we’ll be at the end of the year. That’s right, on 1-2 December we’ll be in Coventry, in person, whilst celebrating the accounting community and the enormous contribution the it has made to keeping UK Plc and its workforce on its feet against all the odds. Accountants and all those who support them are the unsung heroes of the pandemic. I cannot wait to open those doors and welcome you all to what will be a very special show indeed.

More storm clouds ahead, for sure, but clearer skies beyond. Stay safe, keep doing what you are doing and thank you for your continued support.