I have no idea how many times I’ve tried to start this post, because I don’t really know how to put it all into words. For those of you that don’t follow me on social media then you will have no idea what I’m talking about so let me explain.
Earlier on in the year, the Shaw Trust announced that nominations were open for the 2018 Power list which recognises the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. I shared the list on my social media and encouraged people to nominate their favourite disabled people, and to be completely honest, I didn’t think anyone would nominate me as I’ve never really seen myself as ‘influential’, I started my blog in the hope to help others and tackle the common misconceptions and stigmas surrounding visual impairment and disability.
I didn’t hear anything about it for a few months, so I just assumed that I hadn’t made the list which was absolutely fine with me, there are so many disabled people that truly deserve to be on the list.
However, in August that all changed…
I received an email saying that I had made it onto the 2018 Disability Power 100 list! I was in absolute shock and I still can’t believe it. Honestly, you have no idea how much I wanted to tell my readers, but we couldn’t announce it until the launch event.
A few weeks later, I received details about the launch event which would be taking place in London on the 17th October. Luckily, I was able to work this around my work commitments and my Mum and Dad were also able to come with me.
I spent the following few weeks excited for the event. We booked our train tickets to London and it was a matter of waiting for the day to arrive…
The launch event
Wednesday 17th October was here in no time and it was the day of the event, I spent the morning doing some blog admin and it was soon time to get ready. Once I was ready, myself, my Mum and Dad headed to the station.
When we got to the station, we found that our train was delayed by around 20 minutes, meaning that we would arrive in London a little later than planned.
Once we arrived in London, we walked to Euston station where we got the tube to Waterloo station as that was the closest to the South Bank Centre. It was around 6pm so it was extremely busy, not the best time to catching a tube. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit stressful but nevertheless, we managed it anyway.
Once we arrived at Waterloo station, we made our way to the South Bank Centre, it wasn’t too far so it was ideal really. Apart from the delays and the fact that the tube station was pretty much overcrowded, the journey was ok.
We made our way into the South Bank Centre, we were very tight for time, so asked someone where St Paul’s Roof Pavilion was so that we could get there on time, it was on the sixth floor, so we made our way up.
Once we got to the sixth floor and were at St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, we were met by some lovely members of staff, they asked our names and gave us our name badges. We then made our way into the main area where the event was taking place, we grabbed a free drink and found somewhere to sit. After a stressful journey, I think we needed a couple of minutes to just unwind.
The room was very busy, and everyone was chatting whilst we were waiting for the event to start. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen as I hadn’t been told anything but it all soon became clear. This was the first disability/blogging related event I’d ever been to so I really didn’t know what to expect.
A member of staff politely asked everyone to gather in the centre of the room if possible as the event was going to start.
The event started with a speech from a member of staff from the Shaw Trust, they spoke a bit about the Disability Power 100 list itself, the judging process, he informed us that they had had over 700 nominations and explained a bit about the launch event.
There was then a presentation from a disabled photographer, he told us about his life, his disability and how he got into photography. He also showed some photos which obviously I was unable to see.
Once he had finished his presentation, it was then time for the top 10 people on the Disability Power 100 list to be announced…
They started this segment off with telling us about the judges, the judging process and how hard it was to choose the top 100 from over 700 phenomenal nominations, but they managed to do it. The Disability Power 100 list is now in its fourth year so for them to have over 700 nominations is huge!
It was very exciting to hear the top 10 announced in person, like everyone on the list, they are all wonderful in their own way and doing an amazing job to break down barriers surrounding disability in society. The top 10 is an array of people such as Jonnie Peacock, Adam Hills and Warwick Davis just to name a few, make sure you check the list out.
Not everyone could make the event and I am extremely grateful that I was able to go, but it was a very nice surprise when the number one person was announced which was Alex Brooker.
Alex entered the room behind us and was met with a big round of applause, he then did a speech about how much it meant to him to be on the power list and spoke a little about before he started his job at Channel 4, there weren’t really any disabled people in the media, I think this highlights the importance of the power list as young people need someone to look up to. He genuinely seemed grateful to be listed as the most influential disabled person in the UK. I’ve got to admit, it would have been nice for Alex’s speech to be a little longer and for him to have had a bit more time to say what he wanted to say, but nevertheless, it was a special moment for him to have actually been at the event.
Once that was all done, it was then time to socialise and grab some food and drinks if we wanted to. I was reunited with Elin as she is part of the list as well. We had a quick catch up and got excited together about the whole thing!
We were given a physical copy of the publication, so my Mum and Dad obviously found me in it straight away. I think that’s when it all really hit me that I was actually part of the list. The physical copy is something that I’ll definitely treasure for years to come.
After that excitement, we went to grab ourselves a drink, I then wanted to get some photos. We managed to find a spot and get some pictures. There was a screen that said ‘power 100 2018’ so I obviously got some photos with that in the background. Although I can’t see pictures myself, I like to get them on special occasions so that I can show them to friends and family, keep them for the future and of course for the social media.
I then had a chat with Elin, my Mum asked me if I wanted to meet anyone at the event. As we had to keep it a secret, I didn’t really know who was at the event and who was even on the list. Myself and Elin put on Twitter that we were being reunited later that day, the lovely Chloe asked what we were doing so I told her that we were going to London, she then private messaged me to ask me if we were attending a charity event by any chance which it was then we both figured out that we were both on the list so we said that we had to meet. So, off my Mum went to find Chloe.
I have no idea how she did it, but she managed to find her amongst the sea of people, so I met Chloe and we had such a lovely chat. It’s really special to meet someone who you have spoken to online for a while and someone who is a fellow disabled blogger.
Chloe also introduced me to Shona and Heather, I follow Shona on Twitter and we have spoken quite a few times, so it was really nice to meet her as well, it was also great to meet someone new like Heather.
Chloe also told me about a fellow visually impaired person who was also at the event as they had made the list as well, I knew that they read my blog and always support me, so it was great to meet Nick and chat to him.
Whilst I was talking to everyone, the event seemed to fly by, and it was soon time for us to leave, time seemed to go nowhere!
I said goodbye to everyone that I had met and headed out with my Mum and Dad.
On the way out, there was someone taking professional photos, so I got one taken. There was also someone giving out free bags which included a copy of the publication, a leaflet on the Shaw Trust and a free pen so I picked up one of those as well. We grabbed our stuff and headed out of the South Bank Centre and went to Waterloo Station to catch the tube.
We made our way back to the station and caught the train home. We didn’t get home until around 1am but it was definitely worth it. I spent the train journey taking it all in and congratulating some of the other disabled people on the list.
So, there you have it, a rundown on the Shaw Trust Power 100 List launch event!
I would just like to thank everyone that nominated me for the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list, everyone that supports my blog and YouTube channel in some way, the Shaw Trust for putting on a wonderful event, my friends and family for continuously supporting me and to everyone that I met at the event for making it so special. Without everyone’s support, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I most certainly wouldn’t have made the list!
The aims of the list are to break down barriers surrounding disability, promote greater equality and provide a platform to inspire and motivate disabled young people to strive for success, despite having a disability. This is one of the reasons why I am so grateful and humbled to be on the list as I feel very passionate about these things. The Shaw Trust is a charity that is helping to transform the lives of young people and adults in the UK and internationally.
What does this all really mean to me?
I can’t tell you how surreal it feels to be on the list alongside some truly incredible disabled people such as Alex Brooker, Jonnie Peacock, Adam Hills, and many other disabled actors, comedians, Paralympians, campaigners and some disabled bloggers that I look up to. It also feels wonderful to be on the list alongside some of my friends.
To be classed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people is something that I can’t quite get around, I want to help others, I want young people to know that they can achieve big things, despite having a disability.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to most of you that having a disability can have its challenges, we have to fight for simple things, strive for equality, we often have to work harder than others at certain tasks but having a disability can also be extremely rewarding and really put things into perspective.
I didn’t start blogging for the recognition or success, whatever that may be, I started my blog in the hope to help others and educate non-disabled people.
I hope to use my place on the list positively, continue to do what I’m doing and try and help and educate as many people as I can on visual impairment and disability.
The Disability Power List highlights the amazing things that disabled people can face and how we can defy all wrongly perceived ideas, low expectations and change people’s attitudes towards disability.
I am feeling really humbled, grateful, lucky and very happy right now. Thank you to each and every one of you that supports me and is on this journey with me, your continued support means the world to me.
Please do go and check out the Disability Power 100 list as it is most definitely worth a read, I am on page 77 so look out for me.
I have also done a video on it, so I would love it if you gave that a watch as well.
Who is your favourite person on the list? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.