I ♥ London.
The Teenager was born in London and the city always holds a very special place in my heart.
So to travel down there for the MS Society Awards as a finalist in the Campaigner category was wonderful.
Sadly, The Teenager was studying, so I took my Boss and best friend, Tony, as my companion and human walking stick.
The event was to take place in County Hall, overlooking Parliament and right next to the London Eye. The location could not be more perfect – our hotel was just a few metres from the venue. We travelled down the night before and wandered around the banks of the Thames, ending up in a little Turkish restaurant.
The next day we had coffee at the South Bank Centre and then got ready for the ceremony. Or, I did. The Boss went for a walk, I panicked about my outfit, my weight, my balance, my eyelashes.
Anyway, when we got there, nothing else mattered except for meeting the most incredible people. Truly, the Awards are amazing. There was a chance to catch up with most people beforehand but there just wasn’t enough time until we were called in to lunch, and the Awards.
Reader, I didn’t win, but to be a Finalist is a prize in itself. I felt as if I was floating on air and to make it even more special, Lord Dubs was on my table. The Lord Dubs.
Back in the hotel, I changed in to jeans and comfortable shoes and made a wibbly beeline for Foyles, the bookstore. I bought a couple of books and literary magazines (half of which are waaaay beyond me), and snaffled a few of the free bookmarks. We had a drink at the theatre and wandered back to the hotel before collapsing from exhaustion.
I love London. I love the buzz, the energy, the thrill. But, when I could barely walk down the South Bank without help, I knew times had changed. It seems like only a few short years ago that I would take my newborn/toddler on endless walks down the same streets. Miles and miles and miles. And now, it’s metres before I grasp the nearest arm (usually The Boss, sometimes a complete stranger).
And now I am back home, exhausted, thrilled and filled to the brim with emotion. The Awards may showcase the finalists, but there are so many of us living day to day with MS. We are all finalists, winners, whatever you want to call it.
I may not be a winner, but I will still speak up, speak out and speak loud about the inequalities we face on a daily basis. The most heartening story I heard was that when I was speaking about employment discrimination last year on the radio, someone called in to say their employer was brilliant. That same employer won an MS Society award on Friday…