16 May | Posted by Sian Smith | no comments |
After the shock of winning the Regional Rural Business Awards in November 2019, we discovered we had a family holiday booked for the date of the National Awards. There was no way that we were going to miss the National Awards, so with some re-organising, we managed to move our holiday.
With much excitement, it was time to start planning for the big award ceremony. We had never been to a National Awards before so it was a big deal for us. With the awards being held in Manchester, there was a hotel to organise, searching for someone to do my hair and make-up and of course finding that special dress.
With a few days to go the weather was not in our favour, with snow coming in from the North. We watched the forecast anxiously. As the morning of the awards arrived, we woke early for our 5 hour drive North with everything crossed that the roads would be passable. The journey through mid-Wales was so scenic and yes we did see some snow, but thankfully the roads were clear.
With a couple of stops along the way, we finally made it to our swanky hotel in the middle of Manchester – The Dakota. Now for some pampering time with hair and make-up being done and a couple of pints in the bar for Dave. A couple of hours later and feeling like a million dollars, all suited and booted, we headed to the bar for a celebratory glass of champagne.
After trying to calm the nerves, we were greeted by our chauffeur and driven in a brand new top of the range BMW X7 to the grand venue of The Monastery – a Grade II listed building, that was once a Franciscan Church and Friary, described as a gothic masterpiece! As we pulled-up outside it certainly looked impressive. Stepping inside, we were welcomed by a champagne reception and began chatting to other attendees from around the country.
The time then came to enter the grand hall for a spectacular three-course dinner. Our table was towards the rear of the hall, furthest away from the stage. In between each course, we shared stories with other guests on our table, each up for different categories.
As dinner drew to a close with coffee and chocolates, the host of the awards, Jules Hudson (presenter of Escape to the Country and Countryfile) stepped up on stage to welcome everyone.
After a short speech, the first category was announced – Best Rural Start-Up. This was us! Dave took hold of my hand as he could probably see I was nervous. Then came the announcement from Jules Hudson; “Runner-Up for Best Rural Start-Up is…Millin Brook Luxury Dog Boarding”. Oh my goodness, I stood up and gave a huge hug to Dave and tried to hold back the tears. I now had to walk the whole length of the hall to get to the stage, and being the first one to go up to accept an award, I wasn’t quite sure which way to go. Working my way around the tables, I finally made it. I held my dress up slightly as I climbed up a few steps, praying I was not going to trip over! Still desperately trying to hold things together, Jules Hudson stepped forward and shook hands with me and congratulated me. The sponsor of the award was Openreach and one of their representatives came to the stage to congratulate me and presented me with the award. It was then time for a quick photo on stage for the press.
I missed the next few award categories as I was whisked away for more photos in the foyer. It all felt so surreal. As Dave joined me, I still felt in disbelief that our little family run business was a runner-up in a National Awards! We are both so proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time and thank everyone for their support.
It was now time to return to the grand hall to show our support to fellow Welsh contenders and party the night away!