Here – finally, and I do apologise for the wait – is my post on THE FIRST EVER UK NATIONAL BLOG AWARDS.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this wee blog of ramblings was shortlisted for the Education-Individual category along with 9 other blogs (all of them awesome, and I recommend looking at some of them here).
I made the journey from North Of The Border to London with my camera, my laptop (and coursework blegh) and my mum (I wasn’t for walking into a room of networking types all by myself!) two days before the awards night, and had a nice couple of days exploring Hampton Court Palace and revisiting Putney, where I had my Assessment Day over a year ago. It was nice to see it again with all those experiences underpinning the visit.
On the Friday, we packed up our suitcases and headed over to The Grange Hotel St Pauls for the big night. After dragging a brush through my hair and attempting to use eyeliner, I headed out to the foyer and met up with the lovely Samia, another ICS returned volunteer who had been nominated for an award. Samia spent her 3 months in South Africa with Skillshare, and I really recommend having a nosey at her blog, which has successfully made the transition from ‘I’m an ICS blogger’ to ‘I’m A Blogger’….much to learn I have.
We had a really good chat about all things volunteering, ICS and ‘what are you doing next?’, before my mum met us and we were joined by Matthew (a returned Team Leader who spent 10 months in Ghana with International Service and whose blog you can find here), Lucy from the ICS Hub and Caitlin from International Service, who had very nicely come along to support the three of us.
I’ve never ever been to anything as glitzy as this was, and people had really gone to town on looking their best. The pre-Awards Twitter updates started mentioning hair and nail appointments at about 8.30 in the morning, and the effort certainly paid off! There were lots of things to entertain the guests before the ceremony began, like a candy floss and popcorn stand, a pop-up business card printing stand and….a digital graffiti wall. It was AWESOME. Samia did an excellent hardened juvenile delinquent impression and spray-painted some ICS banter TO REPRESENT. YOU GET ME?
The event itself was really slick, and despite my initial concerns about how long the votes of thanks and the ‘networking’ would last, it didn’t drag at all. By the time we got on to the awards themselves, I had eaten so many tiny cakes that I was glad of the seat. (Note to self: if attending similar functions in the future, make sure you either eat a massive dinner beforehand, or get there early enough to stalk the waiters with the savoury canapés.)
I won’t go through each and every category and tell you who won what, because you can find all that out here: instead, I’ll show you this here picture of my wee blog up on the screen with all the other blogs who made the shortlist:
To cut to the chase, I didn’t win anything, but I really don’t mind. It was so unexpected and exciting to just be nominated, that I was chuffed to bits regardless of the outcome. I didn’t leave completely empty-handed however; all bloggers (and guests) left with a certificate, a goody bag and, thanks to the artistic leanings of Samia, a jazzy ICS magazine bag.
I’m not sure when I’ll next be scribbling again: dissertation season is almost upon us, and although I’m really hopeful it might generate a couple of Ethiopia-related posts, I’m still waiting on the topic to be confirmed. In the meantime, I recommend having a wee look at what other work VSO does in Ethiopia…and check out the link at the bottom of the page. I’m quite excited.
In some ways, winning the category would have devalued the message that I think runs through a lot of what I’ve written. This blog isn’t about the people who always win, or come out top. It’s about second (or first) chances, risks and an awful lot of hard work, not just on my part, but on the part of all the people I’ve met through the ICS family. They’re the people I want to really dedicate the shortlisting to, because without them, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. So thank you.