Giving Voice

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Celebrating Achievements: RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards

I was delighted to be invited to the RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards Ceremony 2011 on the evening of October 18th. I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks, but once in London the excitement really began to build!

After I finished my meeting with Ian Lavery, MP, I headed back to the hotel to change my clothes and get to my hairdressers appointment. The hair salon was next door to the hotel where we were staying and I made the appointment on Monday. The hairdresser was lovely and we engaged in conversation about my day. I took the opportunity to tell her about Giving Voice and the meeting with my MP. She hadn’t heard of the campaign before but she seemed interested in learning about it.
From leaving the hairdressers, I didn’t have long to get ready and get photos with my parents before we had to leave for Church House. I was hoping we might bump into David Hasselhoff again (this time all nicely dressed, with camera in hand!) but no such luck! (Never mind, obviously wasn’t meant to be.)

Drinks Reception

Upon arrival at Church House, we were greeted by Ele Buckley (National Co-ordinator for Local Campaigns) and I introduced her to my parents. Susan Fairbrother, from RCSLT, then signed us in and led us upstairs to the Hoare Memorial Hall for the drinks reception and photo opportunity.

During the drinks reception I introduced myself to Jennie Marshall (the inspirational Speech and Language Therapist who cycled 180 miles to get to Westminster communicating with her light writer – check out her fantastic blog London or Bust). It was lovely to meet Jennie and hear about her experiences having followed her blog throughout her journey. I admire her efforts and think she has raised lots more awareness through this experience. She used her light write (Leonard) in the meeting with her MP, and even let him have a try at using it! J Well done Jennie!

Jennie Marshall and Me

Gala Dinner and Awards

Checking the seating plan to see where I would be sitting, I was excited to see a few names that I recognised (Speech and Language Therapists who have published research etc as well as Gareth Gates!). Once seated, I was delighted to see that Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister of Education, was seated on our table with us. Ms Hodgson is a lovely lady and this provided opportunity to network as she introduced me to some of her colleagues (Nick Smith and Geraint Davies (MPs in Wales) and John Bercow, Speaker of the House). Ms Hogdson, Mr Smith and Mr Davies are all supportive of Giving Voice and the work of SLTs and are keen to raise questions in the House of Commons.

Nick Smith, MP , Me and Sharon Hodgson, MP (Shadow Minister for Education)

Geraint Davies, MP and I

The dinner and entertainment was wonderful, and it was exciting to be mingling with so many fantastic people. I also had opportunity to meet Gareth Gates for a chat and photos (which was quite exciting as I voted for him Pop Idol when I was 12! I told him this too!).

The RCSLT Honours ceremony was extremely inspiring and I felt privileged to be watching so many phenomenal individuals being congratulated for years of dedication to the profession. The Giving Voice Awards were equally inspiring, and I felt proud not only to be a Speech and Language Therapist but also to be part of such a brilliant campaign.

I am extremely proud of the North of Tyne Collaboration for winning the Service Award for England - a fantastic team of Speech and Language Therapists and students (with great links to the university), who have worked hard all year long to raise awareness of Giving Voice in a number of ways. Their enthusiasm and team spirit has been inspirational and it has been a pleasure Giving Voice with them all year and I look forward to more Giving Voice related activities in the coming months. I am proud to say I am part of such a brilliant team (through Giving Voice). The Service Award was presented by John Bercow (Speaker) and collected by Alison Proudfoot, Sue Welsh, Kath Frazer and Samantha Hicks on behalf of the team. Well done North of Tyne!!

North of Tyne collecting the Service Award for England

Some of the North of Tyne team with Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, Mark Logue (Author, and Grandson of Lionel Logue, The King’s Speech) and Geoffrey Rush (Actor) were all nominated and awarded for their part in Giving Voice. Gareth and Mark both made acceptance speeches on stage, and we were shown a pre-recorded message from Geoffrey Rush.

I am still delighted and overwhelmed to have been awarded The ‘Outstanding Contribution to Speech and Language Therapy’ (from within the profession).

I’d like to thank the people that nominated me, it is very much appreciated! For me, Giving Voice has been (and always will be) about raising awareness of our wonderful profession (at a local and political level) and the valuable work that Speech and Language Therapists do on a daily basis for the benefit of people with Speech, Language, Communication or Swallowing needs. Therefore, for me to have been recognised in such a way is amazing and I feel truly honoured to have collected an award (which I dedicate to all service users). It makes me even more proud to say that I am part of such a fantastic profession and I am excited about my future career.

I’ve done lots of campaigning for Giving Voice this year but it would not have been possible without everyone who has supported me and the campaign (especially my family). I was very surprised and touched at how many people have heard of me through following my campaigning and my blog and totally overwhelmed at the fact that people (who I have not even met) are genuinely delighted that my work has been recognised.

After the awards ceremony we had the opportunity to mingle and I talked to some lovely people, including John Bercow (Speaker of the House), Avril Nicoll (editor of Speech and Language Therapy in Practice), Mike Richards (Speech and Language Therapist who helped Service User Mark Wilson overcome some of his difficulties and make a speech at his daughter’s wedding – read more here ) and David Curtin (Student Campaigner of the Year).

Avril Nicoll and I

David Curtin and I
Mike Richards and I

A fantastic evening celebrating so many wonderful achievements. Everyone there should be proud of themselves, and proud of being part of such a wonderful profession. Anyone who wasn’t there, should be equally proud because Giving Voice is a brilliant campaign. I was excited to hear that Newly Crowned Giving Voice Politician of the Year Robert Buckland, raised a question on Prime Minister’s Question Time!
Rt Hon John Bercow, Kamini Gadhok (CEO of RCSLT), Sir George Cox, Mark Logue, Gareth Gates and Bryony Simpson

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has congratulated me over the last week, it means a lot, but let’s not forget what it is all about…

Giving Voice is not over – so let’s keep spreading the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

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