I’m still quite tired so i’m not going to link too much.
Remember a few months ago i posted about getting nominated to go to the guide dogs anual awards in London? Well it finally happened.
About a month ago, people from guide dogs came over to do some filming. This was to be shown at the guide dogs cerimoney itself. They filmed me at a bus stop, looking as if i was campaigning and at the train station. We nearly got in to bother though as they hadn’t thought to get permission from translink first. By that stage Ushi was starting to get bored as we had been filming for over three hours already so i just said that it might be better to stop since it was evident in her work that she just wasn’t paying attention. Thankfully they had got all they needed. They were nice but the people who had sent them over hadn’t gotten permission.
Unfortunately the lack of organisation continued throughout the preparation and even on the trip. I had to chase up the details of my flights which i only got a couple of weeks ago. We then had to ask for a taxi to be provided as there was no way we could manage around London ourselves. Guide dogs even wanted us to pay for our flights and claim it back. I told them that if i was being taken over there as a finalist i wasn’t going to pay so they eventually agreed to pay for them. Even the hotels were badly organised since the people who were sharing rooms were booked in to the wrong hotel.
Anyway we arrived in Belfast city nice and early. It was a good job we did because our flight we were orriginally meant to get was delayed then cancelled due to really bad fog in heathrow airport. I was quite surprised that it was foggy considdering that it was quite a warm day.
We were all checked in on an earlier flight which was good. After i got checked in, i had to check Ushi in ttoo. I had to show my guide dog ID card plus i had got a letter from guide dogs in case she was refused. After that it was through to security which ushi loved since she got a good pat down. The security staff wanted to take her home lol.
Next it was time to put all our stuff in the trays for it all to be xrayed. I always get a bit nervous because i always worry in case they don’t give you it back or someone takes it. My friend Paul got taken aside because he had a spray bottle in his bag but i thought he was going without me lol.
We got taken on to the flight after that. The dogs had a seat to themselves which was good. Eir lingus even had a braille safety card which i was really impressed with. It was a very noisy aircraft and unfortunately when we took off Ushi had a horrible time. She started panting really hard and would not lie down. The air hostesses were lovely and got her some water but unfortunately when we landed she ended up being sick which wasn’t good. The staff were grand about it though which was good. We were met at the other end with the assistance again which was good.
Unfortunately because the flight was cancelled the taxi company that had been booked for us sent me a text saying that we needed to rebook it. I knew that the taxi was booked under my name but i was a bit annoyed that my number was given without my permission. I wouldn’t have minded but i would have preferred to be asked. When i phoned the taxi company they had no record of it being booked and were asking for a refference number and all. I said i only had the flight refference. So on to guide dogs again who didn’t know that we had to rebook. They then said that the taxi driver would call us and say where he was but that we’d probably have to get a member of staff to take us out to him. Thankfully the taxi driver came in to get us which was good.
By the time we got to the hotel we had just enough time to get changed in to our fancy stuff and go again. I’d have liked to chill for a bit but there wasn’t much we could do about that. When we went up to the reception we met some more of the finalists. We were all introducing ourselves as “That person on facebook” lol.
When we arrived at the hilton, we had a shampaigne reception. This was basically a lot of standing around and “mingling” which we were told to do. The shampaigne was nice but it was a lot of standing around.
The main evening started with Andrea Begley singing Angel before it was explained about the silent auction that was taking place throughout the night as well as the raffle and a live auction. Mike Ozmend was the mc for the night.
When the starter was braught out it was some sort of tereen thing. It was a huge plate with the food in the middle. I wasn’t too keen on that at all. I would have thought we would have had soup or something but i suppose it was a posh do. The main was much better. It was chicken in some kind of sauce with some sort of mash potato with it. The desert was a very rich fondant and ice cream.
After this it was the actual awards themselves. Adrian Chilis and the chief executive of guide dogs were presenting them. I’m pleased to say that i won my award. Andrea Begley presented it to me. While i went up to collect it, or get photos rather, the filming was shown from the guys who came over to film. If anyone wants to see it,
Here it is
I thought i would get the award then but i just got photos taken of me pretending to have something. I asked if i was getting anything and i was panicking in case the audience heard it but thankfully music was on while i got it. I was so pleased to have won it. I was happy enough to be nominated but when i won it was the icing on the cake. I later got a lovely plaque which is made of glass. I would like to congratulate all dogs and humans who won in their catigries. Even though Ushi wasn’t nominated for anything, i wouldn’t have been able to do what i do without Ushi. I know this sounds soppy but the way i see it is every guide dog is guide dog of the year in their owners eyes.
I got my photo taken with Martin cloons so i’ll have to post it when i get it sent to me. I was also in Tuesday and Fridays belfast telegraph but to be honest i’m in and out of the paper for so much that it would be hard to find all the articles. That sounds cocky but i have been in for collecting cheques etc.
After the awards it was dancing until one o’clock. The coach was meant to collect us at 11 and 1 but it didn’t turn up at one so we had to get a taxi which i will be claiming back. It was after all £18 which is money i cannot afford to lose.
On Thursday morning i discovered that we had to pay for our breakfast too which i thought was encluded. I am not claiming that back though as i just thought that i would just leave it and the hotel probably couldn’t have printed out a receipt.
You could tell the awards was more for the big coughers of caompanies who had baught tables. Yes we were recognised for our mirrets but some of the things in the auctions went for big money indeed. Some of the things were well over the £3000 mark.
Thankfully our taxi turned up on Thursday. When we got left at the entrance to terminal one one of the guests couldn’t walk too far so needed a wheelchair. There was a phone so we phoned through and they were asking us lots of things like our flight number and stuff. They didn’t know why i had said that there were two guide dog owners and didn’t know what to do. They said it would take them 20 minutes to get to us so we decided to just walk in. It wasn’t that far but it was far enough and we weren’t going to stand on a london street waiting.
Heathrow is such a stressful environment. They are much more thorough and they take much longer to do things. I get that it’s a bigger airport but we practically had to go from one end to the other to get to our gate. Again we had assistance both on and off the aircraft. Unfortunately Ushi had a hard time again. When we took off she was panting and trembling. I didn’t give her any water as i didn’t want her being sick again. I must say i can’t really blame her for not liking as it deffinetly is an odd sensation taking off and certainly landing.
I would like to thank guide dogs for nominating me and also for enviting me over, but i do think next time the guide dog owners need to be thought of more rather than the big money spinners. I realise this does sound like a moaner of a post but i didn’t want it to be. I just wanted to post what really happened. I would also like to thank everyone who has congratulated me and ushi so far. Thank you also to all you who have read this monster and stuck with me to the end. If anyone is still around, here are a couple of pictures that i want to share with you.
Last year i was nominated for the young persons achievement award of the Guide dog of the year awards. These awards are not just for guide dog owners but for their dogs too. Last year i hadn’t got through but did get a special commendation award and got taken out to lunch with our district team. I was quite surprised to hear that i had been nominated yet again for the same catigry.
I didn’t expect to get through, but i got a call on Wednesday saying that i will be going to london on the 11th December. Normally the awards are held in July but this year they are making it in to a fundraising effort with a galla dinner as well. There are apparently celebrities coming too which is brilliant. We’re going to the Hilton of all places. I can’t wait to be honest and it still hasn’t sunk in. Me going to London! Wow!
I’ll keep you posted when i get more details but i wanted to let you know what the craic was.
I can’t wait!
Today was the
Guide dog of the year lunch
That our team decided to hold for the nominees from Northern Ireland who didn’t make it to the ceremony itself in London at the start of July.
We were heading to
The titanic centre
To eat. I started to panick when i realised it was a “set menu” as i knew it probably would be something horrible.
The first impressions are that the centre is pretty big. It has underground parking at £1.50 per hour. (It’s a good job i put a point in there!). It is a very wide, cold open building. I was amazed at how packed it was!
We waited until everyone arrived. I chatted with the guide dog mobility assistant (GDMA) who trains the dogs, and Ushi was all over her pawing and going crazy.
I found the restaurant very loud when we walked in. Our cutlery then came in paper packets. I’m not sure why as the eating ends were pointed out the way. When our starter came it was presented on a wooden tray for each of us and it was in a cup. The soup was potato and leak, with cheese. Boy was it cheesy! I couldn’t finish it all as it was so rich. I felt a little sick with it. One person commented that it was more like a fondu.
Thankfully the main course was more exciting and it was the one i was looking forward to. It was chicken with crispy parcinips (thought it was potatos) and lentels. It was much more enjoyable thankfully.
We then went up to the “titanic” staircase to get a rare photo. Apparently nobody was allowed up there. Then it was down to another floor to see the clothes the actors wore. We came back to the restaurant again to get our certificates. They were presented in a lovely frame. Mine said “Specsavers guide dog of the year awards. Young persons achievement” and my name. It was signed by the chief executive of the whole organisation.
I would like to thank all the staff from the Northern Ireland team for nominating me. I felt priviliged.
As for the the Titanic centre, it seems rather posh, or at least that was my impressions. Don’t think i’d like to visit it again. Not for the tour anyway.
Thanks again to the district team!
Back in April i think, I got a call from my rehab worker asking if he could nominate me for the
Guide dog of the year awards
Which celebrate the extraordinary work of not just guide dogs, but also fundraisers and volunteers. It is sponsored by Specsavors. There are 7 catagries this year.
Apparently our local team were asked if they would like to nominate anyone and my rehab worker suggested me because of all the fundraising/speaking/talks to applicants i do. I was nominated for the young persons achievement award.
I don’t really like compliments so i was a bit embarrassed. It’s not that i don’t like compliments but i never know what to say lol.
So apparently the person doesn’t have to be told that they are being nominated but my rehab worker wanted to check with me first. I felt really privilidged to be considered for such an award as i thought that i didn’t do that much for the organisation.
So today i got an email saying that i was to get a “special commendation” certificate but wouldn’t attend the event itself. I will paste the email below. I would like to thank all of the Northern Ireland team and especially to my rehab worker for nominating me.
I am pleased to let you know that you were nominated by Steve Andrews in
the Young Person’s Achievement category of the Specsavers Guide Dog of
the Year Awards, our annual award ceremony which recognises the
incredible work of our life changing guide dogs and also the people that
make these amazing partnerships possible.
The competition was very stiff this year and we received scores of
nominations over the seven categories.
I’m sorry to say that yours wasn’t one of the nominations the judges
selected to take forward to the final. However, we were very impressed
with your nomination and will be sending you a special commendation to
recognise your achievements.
I will arrange to post your special commendation certificate and you
should receive it in late July.
With best wishes,
Thanks again! Good luck to anyone else being nominated or attending the event including guide dogs themselves!