What an evening!
Liz and I were so excited to be representing OCC at the Cycling Weekly Awards. To have been shortlisted in the final 4 for the Club of the Year Award was fantastic in itself but to go to a glitzy event like this was something that neither of us had never done before.
The London traffic almost caught us out with the 1.25 mile taxi ride taking 50 minutes. We were getting increasingly nervous as we approached the venue which was a swanky hotel just off Trafalgar Square. We were even more nervous when my name didn’t seem to be on the guest list!
All was well however and we did a bit of networking at the drinks reception, trying not to partake too much of the copious amounts of alcohol available.
When we sat at our table for dinner Liz and I gave each other a wry smile as we were right at the back of the (huge) room nearest the door. Oh well, we thought, never mind – let’s just enjoy the evening. Our table had nominees from other categories as well as a couple of guys from Cycling Weekly and the conversation was lively, with everyone willing each other to win.
The dinner was excellent, the wine running freely and luckily the bottles of water being replenished as well. We were on our best behaviour! We started getting some messages just after 10pm asking what was happening, so we knew that there were lots of people at home on tenterhooks, just like we were.
At last the awards started and our category, Club of the Year, was 3rd on the list so we didn’t have too long to wait before we could completely relax and have some more of the very nice wine on offer.
The winner of the first award was on the table even nearer the door than we were which caused Liz and I to get a little excited, to put it mildly. Then the parents of the 2nd award winner, Rising Star Ethan Hayter, were sat between Liz and me. It dawned on us then that of course they wanted winners to walk all the way from the back.
To be honest the next bit is a bit of a blur. The gentleman from Santini who read out the name of the winner was quietly spoken but suddenly there was an enormous backdrop on the stage with CLUB OF THE YEAR – OTLEY CC.
We both jumped up, hugged, did a bit of a jig and almost ran to the stage. The noise of the applause was deafening with people shouting congratulations. We had prepared a two line acceptance “speech” (just in case!) along the lines of we were accepting the award on behalf of all of the wonderful members of OCC and thank you to Cycling Weekly. Unfortunately the compere had other ideas and thrust a microphone in our faces and asked us questions – in front of 300people. Neither Liz nor I can remember what they asked us or what we said at that point! We were later assured that whatever it was we said was fine, thank goodness.
As soon as we came off stage we were whisked downstairs to be interviewed – that is the video put out by Cycling Weekly. It was all rather intense and nerve–wracking to be honest, quite unlike anything we have ever experienced before. Everything happened so quickly that it was hard to gather our thoughts. Luckily we had spent time before going to the event going over the submission which had resulted in us being shortlisted, so hopefully we were able to make sense.
On returning to the ceremony we had missed several of the categories but got back just in time to see Brian Robinson pick up the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was lovely. He had been sat just behind us although we hadn’t spotted him until then.
More photos on stage with all the winners followed and then we both had a large slurp of wine! For the next 3 hours we were continuously congratulated by so many people, none of whom I recognised but I’m sure that I should have done. It was very gratifying that so many people told us they were really pleased Otley CC had won the prize and that it was well deserved. Many people also commented that it was good to see the Club represented by female members as the attendees of the event were predominately male.
It was a strange transformation from being anonymous at the earlier drinks reception to being recognised as “The Club of the Year Otley Ladies” for the remainder of the evening.
The rest of the evening just flew by and before we knew it, it was 2am and time to head back to our hotel or, to be precise, the Central London Youth Hostel which I can recommend as cost effective place to stay. Neither of us slept much and we were still buzzing when we met up for breakfast.
We both agreed that the previous evening was the most amazing experience, something that money really could not buy. The feeling of pride that we both had in representing the Club was overwhelming and I wish that you could all have been there.