Having spent the last five years prostituting myself for votes in a variety of online campaigns for LPAG the playground charity I chair, I have to admit to groaning at having to do the same again – this time for myself. In fact, asking for votes for me to win an Inspiring Woman Award was far harder. However, I was thrilled to be nominated and figured I would have a laugh at the awards ceremony regardless of winning, and of course I got to dress up too.

Mum and I headed off out on Friday night and arrived at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in Westminster as a gaggle of photographers clustered around the entranceway, next to a rolled out pink carpet. Unsure what to do we scuttled up the steps and of course were completely ignored by the photographers. Inside we were met by a frothy mix of glitter, feathers and  frills. I have never seen quite such a spectacle of glamorous, and in some cases extraordinary outfits.

I was in for a shock as we went through to the hall for dinner though. We were told to look at the big screens to see which table number we were at. I was therefore horrified to see ‘glutant intolerant’ next to my name ! You have to laugh 😉21462981_10155043116843583_1685694634076199906_n

Of course this quickly led to a stack of ‘mutant’ jokes but turned out to be a great way for Mum and I to ‘bond’ with our fellow nominees on our table, including the lovely Claire Elizabeth Park. I met some other lovely women too – namely Dianne Woodford a blind mother who set up a charity after losing her sight in her late thirties. Without thinking we fell into a conversation about what it was like looking after children when you can’t see, and I realised it was the first time I had ever had that conversation. She very kindly gave me a copy of her book – another for my (ever-growing) reading list !

During the early part of the evening they handed out several awards including most inspiring Team which was won by an Asian women’s cricket team. We were thrilled to hear they were a group of Yorkshire women – led by an amazing coach who battled with stereotypes and cultural barriers to train the girls. Then, a little later on Anna Parker-Naples  received an Inspiring Woman Award so I shrugged and thought that was it. It was a huge surprise therefore that at 11pm they went on to award Marilyn of Enough Abuse UK an award, and before I knew it they were announcing me to go up too !

It was a fun night – and thankfully I managed to string a sentence together on stage ! Next time I shall try to remember to get my photo taken with all the celebs 😉 To be honest though, I was really happy chatting to all of the lovely (everyday – normal) women I met that night – women who do extraordinary things.

Vanessa Potter is the author of Patient H69: The Story of my Second Sight (Bloomsbury 2017) SIGN up for my FREE newsletter HERE