In which I try (and fail) not to show off about being at Women of the Year 2011
Without wishing to come across as a big fat show-off, I was one of the lucky few invited to attend the Women Of The Year Awards earlier this week.
As well as having the opportunity to applaud the incredible winners of the awards - burns survivor and charity founder Katie Piper, Egyptian activist Dr Nawal El Saadawi, Jackie Millership, who cares for disabled children, and the team of Birmingham medics who help rehabilitate soldiers who have been seriously injured in Afghanistan - I had the pleasure of speaking to a diverse and inspiring mix of women, from 106-year-old suffragette Hetty Bower to Caroline Hirons, whose charity Give And Makeup gives cosmetics to women who have escaped domestic abuse, children's book writer Inbalie Iserles and Ruth Katz, director of Pop4Schools.
Oh, and on my table were Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Lulu, Karen Millen and actress Amanda Mealing, and everywhere I looked on the tables around me were famous faces - Lorraine Kelly, Tessa Jowell MP, Esther Rantzen, Floella Benjamin, Shirley Williams, Ruby Wax, Camila Batmanghelidjh. Name-dropping is such an unappealing habit, I know. Sorry.
I'd been invited along as a guest of Magic FM presenter Angie Greaves, a fellow judge on the Plan UK competition Blog4Girls and champion of children's literacy, and who, like the other 398 women in the room had a genuine right to be there! It was all a bit overwhelming at times, as someone who's just working to build up a web content business rather than changing or saving lives.
But maybe this is the point - to bring together women from all walks of life and celebrate their achievements. At a time when celebrity has become equated with how much you're on the telly, it was hugely refreshing to see everyone brush all that aside for the day and focus on the stuff that really makes a difference. I'm still applauding....
[Pictured above: Katie Piper, Dr Nawal El Saadawi and Lulu. Credit: womenoftheyear.co.uk]