An “inspirational” day at the ILM Annual Conference 2023

July 6, 2023

“Inspirational”, “Very informative”, “Invaluable”, “Relevant”. Just some of the compliments as the ILM Annual Conference wound to a close on Monday 3 July.

Nearly 300 delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors packed into etc.venues in Bishopsgate, London, to hear a wide range of speakers and enjoy some much-needed face-to-face networking time.

The event was kindly supported by session sponsors Bolt Burdon, Foot Anstey and Hugh James – each of whom took to the stage to host a series of informative presentations.


Alexa Payet and Natasha McKeever from Bolt Burdon were joined by Philippa Garrott of The Royal British Legion and Dr James Warner of Halycon Doctors, to talk about the impact of the pandemic on mental health and testamentary capacity; including issues with lockdown wills, the challenges of solicitors not being able to meet with clients during lockdown; and the rise in ex-gratia claims.

Foot Anstey’s Helen Hoare introduced the firm’s session Team Work Makes the Dream Work, described as ‘something different’, alongside Lucy Gill and Emma Facey, who provided lighthearted anecdotes of their experiences of working together. With plenty of audience interaction (including a Q&A with red and blue cards), it focused on The Four Insights Discovery Colour Energies and how, by understanding these, teams can work together in a supportive culture. Rachel Richards from British Heart Foundation joined them to describe some of the positive ways her team works together and the importance of celebrating success; while Anna Phillips wrapped up the session talking about the Implementation (of the) Charities Act 2022 Disposal of Land.

Just before the break for lunch, it was time for the awards, sponsored by Legacy Futures, with CEO Ashley Rowthorn saying it was a “highlight and an opportunity to celebrate the people in the room”.

Many congratulations go to:

  • Alison Rirsch of Water Aid – ILM Legacy Professional of the Year 2023
  • Helen Prosser from Parkinson’s UK – ILM CiCLA Mentor of the Year 2023
  • Arian Turner, of Marie Curie Cancer Care and Laura Simpson-Toyn, of Bransby Horses – both recipients of the Crispin Ellison Bursary Award, named in memory of the ILM’s founding member and lifetime President.

Lunchtime provided the perfect opportunity for networking, catching up with old friends and making new ones, as well as visiting the busy exhibition stands.

The first session of the afternoon was a two-hander from Roman Kubiak and Peter Spencer from Hugh James. on the topic of Working with the Charity Commission post the 2022 Charities Act. It was packed with member survey results and comments on everything from ex-gratia payments to cy-près schemes, serious incident reports and failed gifts, providing both a timely and insightful overview.

From the Prime Ministerial revolving doors to financial turmoil, the death of the Queen and the first signs of a slowdown in the housing market, Kathryn Horsley and Jon Franklin from Legacy Foresight had the task of shining a light on the latest developments and challenges within the legacy sector (including the backlog in probate cases) with their talk Resilience in the Face of Adversity.

A series of slides looked at issues including confidence in the growth of the legacy market and a key theme was how to increase the current figure of 3.5% of wealth at probate going to charities, up to 4%. It was said that this growth would add £0.5b of legacy income to the sector, and there were discussions about how to drive high value giving by reaching those wealthier individuals.

The final session of the day saw ILM CEO Matthew Lagden chair a lively panel discussion entitled What Are The Key Skills Required to be an Excellent Legacy Officer?

Each of the participants – Helen Beach (Bolt Burdon), Mark Beale (Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care), Eleanor Evans (Hugh James), Helen Hoare (Foot Anstey), Sandra Morton (British Heart Foundation) and Rosalind Sherlock-Jones (GOSH Children’s Charity) provided their own insight, journeys and experiences.

Empowerment, mentoring, collaboration, communication, tenacity, pragmatism and the importance of humanity were among the watchwords of the day and, as Rosalind summed it up so nicely, “the more you bring your whole self, the more you can do”.

Wholeheartedly agreeing, Matthew thanked the panel, all the contributors, exhibitors, attendees and sponsors, saying: “A massive thank you, it has been a wonderful day with a great atmosphere – and thank you to everyone for making the ILM what it is.”

Speaking afterwards, he added: “We couldn’t have done this conference without the wonderful support from our session sponsors, Bolt Burdon, Foot Anstey and Hugh James; to Legacy Futures for their awards sponsorship; and to Berrys for sponsoring the drinks reception.

“As always, this is huge team effort, so well done to everyone, including the the ILM team for their enormous hard work and the board for all their support. And to also say how much we really appreciate everybody in bearing with us after this year’s last-minute postponement.

“It was truly gratifying and inspiring to meet so many members on the day, to hear their stories and to know that the ILM family continues to thrive and play such an important role in helping charities to receive the legacy income to which they are due. We are already looking forward to 2024.”

The day ended with the traditional networking and drinks reception.

Further conference-related articles will follow at a later date.