This time a week ago, Jody and I were on a train heading to London on our way to the Guardian Public Service Awards evening, happy to be attending a swanky awards ceremony (not something we NHS employees routinely do!) but never dreaming that the following day we’d be heading back again clutching the winning award for the digital and technology category!
Although the award is in the name of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, the project is a joint venture between us and the British Stammering Association, and we were delighted that their Chair, Tim Fell, was able to join us at the ceremony. In fact, this project would never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for Tim, because the whole thing was his idea in the first place. He and Norbert, BSA’s Chief Executive, have been a tireless source of support and advice from day one.
The evening was fantastic fun and felt truly celebratory. There was such a lovely atmosphere, and it felt wonderful to be celebrating different successes from across the public sector, with people doing incredible work despite the difficult financial circumstances most public sector organisations find themselves in today. We felt privileged to be among them. The actor Sally Phillips was an excellent host and gave an entertainingly irreverent introduction.
Since our category was announced quite early on, we then had the rest of the evening to relax and enjoy the free food and wine – I think it’s fair to say some of us were somewhat giddy by the end of the evening; not mentioning any names… It’s probably a good job that we weren’t required to make an Oscars-style acceptance speech!
This award is testament to the hard work from everyone in the project team. While it’s great that the award has helped to raise the profile of the project, what’s even more important is that it’s provided an opportunity to raise awareness and increase understanding of stammering among a wider audience.
I am so grateful to all of our participants, and continue to be astounded by their bravery and resourcefulness in managing their stammer, sometimes within an environment where stammering is little understood at best, and seen as something to poke fun at at worst. Hopefully this award will help to get the word out that there is help out there, and that stammering does not need to limit people’s lives.
Official photographs by Alicia Canter for the Guardian