Wednesday 15th October. The day I’d been excited for and dreading at the same time. My 4AM alarm went off much louder than I expected it to…or did it? It was probably because I wasn’t used to getting up at that time…EVER! Being a student for the past few weeks has really changed my sleeping pattern. I can now stay up later and surprisingly or not…wake up later too. I got myself ready, making sure I looked ‘professional’, after all I was meeting Dame Philippa Russell, whom I idolise very much. After a lot of hairspray and makeup, it was time to leave for the train station. No-one was awake at 6AM, but having my boyfriend in tow for support made it that little bit easier! As the train arrived, I started to feel nervous. After making it into York train station later than we should have, it was a mad dash. Before I got off the train I had two earrings in…after getting onto the next one I had none. I ran across the bridge and onto the platform I was meant to be in, in high heels with 3 minutes to change over. A job well done if you ask me. It was then off to Birmingham. The train journey to Birmingham seemed to last a while. My nerves were building up by then and I just wanted to go back home and back to my university work! (I might never say that again!). The train was late getting into Birmingham, leaving me with just ten minutes to get to the venue. I didn’t know where it was and being as stressed as I was, I wasn’t thinking straight. After frantically running up a big hill, across a park and down a long street, I made it, to be told that I wasn’t on for another fifteen minutes. They’d changed my schedule so I could have a breather. Having had a cool, refreshing sparkling water (I had to add the sparkle for a touch of class!), I walked into the room where I would be delivering my speech. I was greeted by Dame Philippa Russell and some members from the QNI. To say I was starstruck was an understatement. Then 11.15AM came and it was my turn to speak. I was under a lot of pressure as Dame Philippa Russell had spoken before me. I had some shoes to fill. I nervously walked up and delivered my speech, with a few rattles of paper, sniffles and one little joke! At least I made them laugh I thought to myself. I opened up the floor to questions but no-one wanted to ask me anything which was a shame! Next time, in London I’m going to do things differently, but I can’t reveal anything! There was a round of applause and I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t do perfectly, but it was good enough for me. I even improvised a bit! Next came a few talks about the Carers Resource and about pledges that some other people had made at a day in Liverpool. Very encouraging to hear. I felt inspired to make my own pledge. Then it was my favourite part of the day…LUNCHTIME! (I’m joking…although everyone loves free food, right?). It was all a blur as many people came up to me congratulating me on my efforts in my speech, asking if I could help them with something such as an article or speaking at one of their conferences and generally just being nice! I did feel a confidence boost which was just what I needed for the afternoon session. There were talks from a GP and from a mental health service and then I was asked to go on a panel to answer what I thought made a good nurse champion. Even though we had five minutes each to talk, I used 30 seconds of that time. Not really that great at speaking on the spot from the top of my head…maybe next time! Then came a refreshment break. A chance to get some pictures with Dame Philippa Russell (I couldn’t resist!) and the wonderful Wendy Nicholson who I owe a lot to! After some more food and a drink it was back to the room to finish off for the day. I made my pledge as I felt inspired by all of the nurses there. I was handed a pretty pink file and again being a student, loved all the freebies, I can never have enough pens and sticky notes! Lastly, came the closing address. I said my thanks and off I went back to the train station, walking alongside my boyfriend and Dame Philippa Russell! In short, it was a nightmare getting back into Sunderland. Delays, power cuts and a long Metro ride back. I finally got back at 9.30PM, I’d been up over 18 hours. Would I do it all again? Of course I would! I really enjoyed the day!
Apologies for the over excessive mentioning of Dame Philippa (I’ll not say it again!) but meeting someone you idolise really does knock you for six! My sincere thanks to Jennie Whitford too!