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The 2016 Digital Community Roundup

Bournemouth is a fantastic place for developers and digital creatives with a high number of top class digital agencies and startups in the area, but also because of the expanding network of community events that take place. I take a look back on the events I attended in 2016 to give you a taste of what I experienced, and what there could be to come next year.

12 min read


Office Happy half hour

PHP Dorset.

I’m one of the organisers of this meetup, which is for, but not exclusive to, developers who work with the PHP language. It’s members come from a variety of disciplines, and every month we meet to listen to talks and chat about technology.

What made it great?

I’ve really enjoyed the mix of attendees we’ve had this year. There have been a wide range of skill sets in the room from sysadmins to project managers and as a result there have been some really interested conversations and debates.

A personal highlight?

I gave a talk earlier this year here which contained advice about putting slide decks together, and I had hoped to inspire some of my audience to give public speaking a go. As a result, I’ve now watched 3 of the people who saw me talk give their own talks, and thank me for helping them get started. This if anything is my highlight of the whole year and has spurred me to submit my own talks to more conferences for 2017.

What would I like to see in 2017?

We’re hoping to have another year of talks from speakers far and wide – I’m also hoping more of our local members will take the plunge and standup to give a talk to us too!

PHP South Coast.

The second annual event organised by local user groups in Dorset, Brighton, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire and South West.

What made it great?

Having a PHP conference in our neck of the woods is something not everyone can say they have and this year’s conference had about a 50% split of experienced and new speakers. It’s nice to see an event giving so much support to new speakers.

My personal highlight?

I was selected to speak! This was an amazing experience and I had some really good feedback from the attendees and the organisers. Oh and lazer quest, that was immense!


Meetdraw is a social meetup for all digital creatives with an event every quarter. This year I attended the spring event – a speed dating style event where top digital leaders are available for a grilling, the summer event which was a massive party on Bournemouth’s seafront, and a gaming event in the autumn where we played games such as Kerplunk and Headbandz. (Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the Christmas event this year).

What made it great?

Meetdraw has been really great for networking, and I always try my best to attend the events because it is so good to be able to walk around and bump into so many familiar faces, catch up with old friends and also make some new ones too.

My personal highlight?

Turning up to the summer beach party on an open top bus with the team from Ratio (who won Meetball this year), much to the general public’s bemusement!

What would I like to see in 2017?

I’d like to meet more new people, and some of the events Meetdraw run work really well for this such as the sports day event from a few years ago – so perhaps another one of those!


This is a spin off from Meetdraw; a weekly 5-a-side grass football competition and a summer beach football tournament.

What made it great?

All the teams that get involved with Meetball make it a really friendly and fun environment to play football. Playing with such a friendly group of people has helped me make new friends and connections in the digital sector, and it has helped keep me fit too!

My personal highlight?

The beach football tournament was a highlight again this year, I loved every minute of the tournament and the banter between teams leading up to the day was brilliant. My favourite part of this event was the weekly kickabouts we had on the beach with all the teams to get used to playing on sand. Playing football with good friends and a view out onto the ocean and the purbecks was something special.

What would I like to see in 2017?

More of the same, and perhaps a trophy for my team next year! (but it really is the taking part that counts).

WordPress Bournemouth.

WP Bournemouth is a meetup for anyone who works with WordPress in any aspect. The meetup started as a tiny pub meetup in 2015 but this year has established itself with a large audience and has started hosting talks this year.

What made it great?

Given WordPress is so ubiquitous, Bournemouth had been missing an event like this. It’s been brilliant to watch it go from strength to strength. In particular the security talk from their sponsor 34SP was full of top tips – that was a really valuable talk I’m glad I got to see.

My personal highlight?

My friend Michael Heap made a trip down to Bournemouth from Reading to speak at this event and gave me a nice slide in his presentation about my PHP South Coast talk!

What would I like to see in 2017?

I’m giving a talk here this month which I’m looking forward to, and again I hope to see more people getting up and giving their own talks, there’s so much good knowledge in the area to share.

Mobile Dorset.

A meetup for anyone interested in building for mobile, featuring talks but also an engaging ‘lean coffee’ discussion about anything the attendees want to discuss.

What made it great?

Lots of interesting talks and discussions, a wide variety of talks, and lots of local companies happy to share their knowledge.

My personal highlight?

Marc Baldwin‘s talk about personal projects was a talk that really spoke volumes to me, full of insightful advice and personal experience. You can watch it here.

What would I like to see in 2017?

More of the same please!

Barcamp Southampton.

Barcamp is a user generated conference where all the content is provided by the attendees. Nobody knows what the talks will be so there is always an exciting mix of talks across all kinds of topics.

What made it great?

Another top event which covered a whole variety of topics, Barcamps are a great way to get into speaking and test out new talks. I experimented with a workshop style talk based around trainsets and agile principals which seemed to be well received.

My personal highlight?

8 year old Faith giving a talk with her dad about an owl chat bot they made. At 28 standing up in front a crowd is intimidating so I was massively impressed by her ability to deliver information about how they did it.

What would I like to see in 2017?

I’d like to think of some new talk ideas that I can take to the next Barcamp to experiment with!

FullStack Hampshire.

This is a free community run event for anybody interested in solving problems digitally.

What made it great?

This is a new meetup that started towards the end of this year, with only 2 events in 2016. Southampton is low on these sort of events compared to Bournemouth so it’s great to see another event start in our neighbouring city.

My personal highlight?

I was invited to give the very first talk at this conference. It was a real honour to kick off this event and I hope to have inspired the large turn out to get involved and get sharing their knowledge.

What would I like to see in 2017?

I hope to be able to attend some of their events in 2017 and perhaps speak again soon.


A meetup in Bournemouth for creatives, developers & web people.

What made it great?

This is the first event I ever went to and it’s a great place to network. It’s particularly good for people new to the area or students looking to meet people working in the industry and talk about careers and tech.

My personal highlight?

It was really nice this year to meet so many students, some of which I’ve then spotted at other events.

What would I want to see in 2017?

I’d like to see more new faces at this event. As great as it is to chat to old friends, meeting new people is what makes this event special.


This is a non-profit initiative that facilitates the growth of a diverse tech community by running regular programming workshops.

What made it great?

I really enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge and this event was a great way to do so with people eager to learn and get started in the industry.

My personal highlight?

It was a special thing to see those penny-drop moments where the students were able to do something that they weren’t able to do before.

What would I like to see in 2017?

I think the Bournemouth chapter of this event has been hindered from some of the attendee restrictions that the London event has and as a result there hasn’t been enough interest in the event for it to thrive properly in this area. There is a need for an event like this however and if Codebar does not continue in 2017 I’d like to see something similar appear in it’s stead.

Things to look out for in 2017?


This is a hackathon that brings together Bournemouth’s creative and tech individuals, coming from a wide range of industries including programming, web design, engineering and game design. It has been in hiatus for a couple of years now but there was a tweet recently suggesting there may be events in the new year.


Similar to HackBmth, but in Southampton! I missed their event this year, so I’m going to make sure I definitely attend the next because it is always a fun event that is really well organised.

Pier to Peer.

This is a website that has been created in collaboration with the area’s meetup organisers and Bournemouth Borough Council to give more exposure to the wealth of events our town has. This hopes to become a useful source of what events are happening and when.

A massive thanks to all of the hard working volunteers who made all these events happen and their super sponsors for supporting them.

There are lots more events that I didn’t get a chance to attend this year, or that are not range of what I’m personally interested in. I’d like to encourage everyone to get involved, check out these events and be part of this fantastic community!

Published on December 13, 2016, last updated on June 20, 2018

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