A personal reflection and look behind the scenes
When exactly can you use the term award-winning?
When I was notified that I had been nominated for an award in the Women in PR and Marketing category in this year’s Kent Women in Business awards, I was initially hesitant about participating. I had been a finalist and runner-up in previous years and felt that I should step aside and let somebody else have their turn in the spotlight. But my husband was having none of it and encouraged me to go ahead with the application.
“You’ve been nominated for a reason,” he said, “You’re really good at what you do, and surely it would be borderline offensive to the person who nominated you to just turn your back and ignore it?”
He clearly felt strongly about this and had a valid point. When one is offered a compliment such as this, it’s always best to respond graciously. So, I went ahead and submitted my application.
A few weeks later, I was thrilled to be notified that I had been shortlisted as a finalist. It turned out that my friend and associate, branding strategist Karen Davies, of Pink Lemon Branding & Design, had also been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories. So, we booked a table together and dragged our respective husbands along to the awards ceremony, at the Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone.
The awards ceremony is always a big event. But this year it seemed even more so. This was to be the first major event to take place at Great Danes since lockdown, and the first KWIBA awards ceremony in a year and a half. I felt privileged to be able to be part of such a big event again after such a long break.
Over dinner, Karen and I were having a light-hearted debate at the table with our husbands. Can you call yourself an award-winner if you have only ever been a finalist or runner-up? If you have been presented with an award, but not the award? For me, it’s all about authenticity and integrity, so we laughingly decided that you probably couldn’t and that the only way to settle the debate once and for all would be to be declared outright winner.
The wine flowed, the food was served. Compere Hilary Steel was on her usual excellent form, keeping us entertained throughout with her usual mix of jolly banter and friendly respect for a roomful of successful businesswomen. Then, the awards…
Success for my friends
It was a good start for our table when Cheryl Rayner, of Rocco & The Fox, was named a runner-up in the Start-Up Business of the Year category. On an adjoining table were my friends Sarah Raine, of Colley Raine & Associates and Dawn Stanford, of the Nourish Community Foodbank. I had up, until recently, been a trustee at Nourish and was delighted that Dawn had been shortlisted for the next category to be called the County Champion award. Dawn was the winner! Wonderful news, and highly deserved. Hugs (socially distanced) all around, then once more we were on tenterhooks, as the next category to be announced was Creative Business of the Year. This was the award in which Karen had been shortlisted. As she had previously been a finalist and runner-up, we were all desperate for her to win this time. The runners-up were announced. Karen’s name was absent. Under the table, we all had our fingers crossed. Then her name was called. Karen was the award winner! How we cheered as she took to the stage to collect her award.
Next up was Home-Based Business of the Year, which saw more success for our table, as Kelly Parsloe, of Norma’s Floral Design, was named a runner-up. A couple more awards were announced. My friend Siobhan Sterling, of Sharp Minds Communications, was named the award winner in the Leadership and Management category.
Time to settle the debate
Then it was time for Women in PR and Marketing. In all honesty, I didn’t think I had much of a shout this year. I truly believed it would probably be somebody else’s turn from among a worthy group of finalists. This belief was underlined when I wasn’t called a runner-up. I was delighted for Siobhan, who was. Suddenly, there was a holler of delight from Karen and a raspy “Yay!” from my husband (who had already lost his voice after the successes of Dawn and Karen) as my name was called. I had won! I was called on stage to give a short speech. I have little memory of what I said as I thanked all those who had helped and inspired me on my journey. I was a little nervous, and overwhelmed with emotion, but also extremely grateful to have received such recognition. Back at the table, there were more hugs and congratulations too from Dawn and Sarah. Perhaps one or two more glasses of Prosecco were consumed as well.
When things had quietened down a bit, my husband leaned across to Karen and me, saying “Well, you don’t have to worry any more about whether or not you can call yourselves award-winning. You’re both award winners now!”
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More information on the Kent Women in Business Awards, and the finalists