08 Jun 2018
Gethin Jones met my husband the other day.
‘Who is he?’ I hear you ask.
Well, my husband is the handsome man in this picture, and has been the leading man in my life for over twenty years.
Gethin Jones (the other bloke), well I used Google to research him. It seems he was a Blue Peter presenter long after my time but you might also know him as the chiselled faced, bright eyed bloke from Strictly Come Dancing or …presenting various television shows. I found him to be warm, professional and a genuine man. And should you happen to touch his left arm in mid-conversation you might notice he has very firm biceps.
Meeting my husband was such a momentous occasion for Geth (best buds now) that he took to Instagram to tell the world. This portentous occasion came about because I had the privilege of being the finalist of the BAPs Awards, Bloody Awesome Parents Awards, run by My family Our Needs and Bringing us Together.
It was a glitzy affair in Coventry which brought together the bloggers of parents of children with disabilities. The tables were perfectly set. Music and chatter filled the room, while the lighting made us all appear slightly blue; which was great as it camouflaged the rose-tinted cheeks inflicted by free prosecco and jittery nerves.
It was always going to be a great night. Pack a room full of people who write about their lives, wear their hearts on their sleeve, share a rare form of camaraderie and who rarely get a night out – and you create a heady cocktail of community, laughter and letting your hair down. It is uncommon for a room to be packed full of people who understand each other in a deeper way. People who recognise the pressures, the joy and rollercoaster of emotions from being the parent of a child with additional needs.
It was also a roll call of blogs which I avidly read and make me feel a little less alone.
Some whose children have very different conditions to my own like:
Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat (Tina Medlock) – she shares the truth about life with her son who has autism and she might swear a bit… actually, a lot. Here she is doing her Catherine Jenkins operatic impression on the night.
Mamma Unexpected (Hannah Young) – she’s fierce and funny and I want to be like her when I grow up. She developed Girl Tribe a non-judgemental place for women to get together and shout about how great they are (and they have cool T-shirts).
Autism from a Dad’s eye view (Kevin O’Neill) – won best microblogger and raised the cool stakes in the room by a mile.
Stories about Autism (James Hunt) – took it all in his stride having won at last years awards.
This photo of Geth attempting to take a selfie of James and Kevin would suggest a boy crush was flourishing on the night.
Autism kids on tour – Autism without limits (Star Harford) a new blogger on the block giving useful and dynamic advice about places to go and things to do with children who have autism.
My kid loves Broccoli (Annie)– her chatty and informative blogs drop into my mail box regularly.
There were also some amazing finalists missing:
Faith Mummy (Miriam Gwynn) – who writes about her two very different children with autism. Her daughters own post, The reason I don’t like to eat, and is an insightful and powerful read.
Revelations of a Slummy Mummy (Lucy Parr) – my friend Lucy is lyrical and witty, with more determination in her little finger than most people have in their whole body.
But then there were other bloggers walking a very similar path to mine
My Daily Miracle (Rochelle Fellows) – who writes with authenticity and love about her beautiful son who is the spit of mine ten years ago.
Little Mama Murphy’s (Emma Murphy’s) mum stole the show when Gethin revealed she had said out loud what half the women in the room were thinking; offering him the other side of her double bed that night. However, Emma was there, not to get her mum a date, but because her blog Dear Doctor beautifully depicts what is so often happening under the surface of routine interactions.
When she isn’t swooning at Gethin Jones, Emma recently shared how, with thanks to the support of Simple Stuff Works and the private physio Tess, her son’s hastily deteriorating curvature of his spine has been halted. A profound testament to professionals working with families like ours that taking the time to inform and educate can make a tangible impact through equipping parents with the knowledge that can change their child’s life.
But the person who probably impacted the most people in the room was Nikki Lancaster from Living with Lennon.
Amidst the fun and frivolity, Nikki talked about her son Lennon who died suddenly on 3rd August 2017 and without dampening the mood but with dignity and poise, she challenged everyone in the room to think about how we give our children a good death, not just a good life.
And for some of us sitting with fizz in our hands that reality was poignant and true. ‘It’s about quality, not quantity’ she said simply. It’s a truth which remains just as important when dressed to the nines and hoping to win an award.
We aren’t good at talking about death. We try to parcel it up and save it for darkened rooms with boxes of tissues. But Nikki showed everyone in that glitzy room full of smiles and laughter that as heart-breaking as loss is, it can be done well; leaving the legacy of our loved ones continuing long after their last breath.
Gethin met my husband the other night, right after he awarded me with the Blogger making a Difference Award. If you want to imagine how it happened, think rabbit and headlights. I was shocked. I didn’t even look at my husband after my name was read out. I simply stood up and started walking towards the stage like a dazed gazelle (it was elegant – I didn’t stack it up the steps).
It was a fab night, with the best biceps in the room going to…the husband.
Written by Rachel Wright for Simple Stuff Works.
Rachel is best friends with Gethin Jones, a nurse, author, speaker and mum living in Essex with her husband and three sons. As well as doing laundry and picking up Lego, she blogs at Born at the Right Time and published her memoir ‘The Skies I’m Under’. Rachel is passionate about sharing her family’s story to improve the care of complex families. Her speaking engagements include leading workshops with parents as well as training professionals.