On Saturday night I danced with a soldier. Mark is a Welsh Guard with a stream of medals proudly displayed across his lapel, who cuts some fancy shapes on the dance floor. Eighteen months ago I’d never even met a soldier – or anyone serving in the military. Now, my work with the amazing Soldiering On charity has introduced me to some of the most impressive people I’ve come across.
The awards ceremony had many people in tears. I’d written the winners’ citations for the brochure so I was already familiar with the tragic circumstances that led them on the path to deserving their inspirational awards. But watching their films and listening to their heartfelt speeches takes it to another level. Life changing events including losses of limbs, loved ones and mental health spurred these people on to make the world a better place for others. Hats off to them!! Or glasses raised, if you’re not wearing a hat.
I raised several glasses – all red apart from the kindly donated Tattingers champagne. I was tweeting through the night on the charity’s behalf – mostly photos, as I couldn’t completely focus on the teeny tiny letters on my new phone. My thanks to the man who took the pic of me cuddling Biggins – now I know why my flash hasn’t worked for two years: he told me to take the phone out of its leather case…. D’oh!!
Sitting beside me through dinner were three lovely ladies who happily get their kits off for the lads. No, not that. These gorgeous girls create an annual calendar to raise money for charity – and 2015 will be supporting Soldiering On. We’d been chatting on twitter and retweeting each other for some time so it was great to finally meet.
I’d also been tweeting with Joe McElderry, the fab X Factor star who created a huge buzz for the charity on social media. But that’s not what we chatted about… We share some of the same business services so we were talking about what a great bunch of people support us! Then he put on a fantastic show and kept the dance floor full until midnight.
The auction raised thousands! One of the lots was a painting by Martyn Royce, my artist friend and creative business collaborator. That alone raised £2500. Ali Grant, also on my table and the recipient of a previous year’s award won a holiday in Marakesh. I won nothing tangible – my prize was dancing with the soldier. And that was enough.
Saturday’s ten winners prove how we can make the best from the worst. Absolutely nothing beats a positive attitude. So it seems appropriate to end with a few words from Joe: ‘The struggles I’m facing, the chances I’m taking – sometimes might knock me down but, no I’m not breaking. I may not know it, but these are the moments that I’m going to remember most yeah – just got to keep going.’ We all keep going, don’t we; after all, what else would we do? This is where I’m going now: @WeekendWitch.