On the 31st October 2015 it will be a year since I was invited and collected my award from the Pride of Reading awards. I’m going to start from the beginning because I still can’t believe this happened to me, I know I got a few comments from people about how they thought I didn’t deserve the award but then again that is their opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I’m still amazed by it, and I can’t quite believe it to be honest…
Last year at the start of October, my picture was put in the paper with the title “Victim of bullying who helps others”, I didn’t really understand how it worked, I knew my picture was going to be taken and I had a phone call from a nice women from the Get Reading paper, but I didn’t realise I’d be put it the paper. When my dad showed me the first thing I did was put it on social media (I mean how couldn’t I do that, I was so proud of myself). The response I got back was fantastic, I had so much support. At the start of 2014 I said that the best things are yet to happen to me, and when this happened I started to believe it a little more.
Two weeks after being put in the paper, I got a letter through the post saying that I had been put into the top 4 for the “Young Person of the Year”, once again I put it on social media (how couldn’t I). The support carried on being amazing, but also I started to get a lot more recognition at school which was great, people in my year knew that I had been nominated for the reward and I’m not going to lie, but I have never had so many people be that nice to me. It was surprising the amount of people that asked me about the bullying. There was the odd person that said that they didn’t think I should’ve been nominated because I didn’t deserve it because I apparently don’t help others, but that was fine, as I’ve said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however sometimes it’d be better if they thought it instead of said it out loud.
Two weeks after getting the letter saying I was invited to the Pride of Reading awards, it was time to actually go to the event. On that morning I was so nervous, I didn’t really understand how it worked or what would happen next. I didn’t know who would be there, it was unusual for me. Shout out to the ones that had sent me messages wishing me good luck before the event. When I got to the event, I didn’t realise how many people were going to be there, there must had been over 300 people there. Before going into the hall where the event was held, everyone that was going to attend was stood outside in a hall that was a little smaller than the hall that the ceremony was held in, everyone was talking to one another and the atmosphere was great. Words can’t describe how excited I was, one of my friends were with me because she had been put forward for a different award, so as soon as I realised I knew someone there I was so excited. My youth worker, the amazing lady that actually nominated me for the award, was there too. Sometimes people don’t realise how lucky they are to have the support that they do, but I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve ever had from my youth worker, friends, family and other people that have helped me. It really does mean a lot, a lot more to me than people understand.
When the event started, we all got told to go into a big hall and sit at our tables. My dad came with me to Pride of Reading so I sat next to him on the table. The moment when I sat down next to a bunch of complete strangers was when I knew my shyness had gotten the better of me. I found it really difficult to start a conversation. My dad started it, I found out that the guy sat next to me was called Neal, I also found out that most of the people on the table were apart of Jack FM. I’m not going to lie, I find it really difficult to talk to new people, but the moment we started a conversation about superheroes I had got my confidence back. We were talking about bullying, my little brother, superheroes and school in general. Sitting on the same table with such lovely people had to be one of the best things about the night.
After a while the event started, Chris Tarrant started talking, there was a meal (Which was sooo nice!!) – it gave me more chance to talk to the people on the table we were sat at. Then the awards were starting to be given out. All of the stories that were told about the people that got their awards were so inspiring. There were also a few different acts that were singing, it was great!
Near to the end of the event, I realised that Neal (the guy that was sat next to me) was on stage and not sat next to me, I didn’t really realise that he had moved. He started talking about a young girl who was a victim of bullying, and I had no idea who he was talking about, I guess that’s how amazed I was by the whole event. He started talking about how the girl had an autistic brother and how she uses her own experiences to help others, no word of a lie, I still had no clue who he was talking about.
Then my name was called and music started playing. Thinking about it now it’s so funny how I reacted. I stood up and didn’t really know where to go, but everyone was clapping, I guess I was shocked, there wasn’t anyone left sitting. One of the ladies that were sat at the table before were waiting to walk me onto the stage, I guess she saw that I was shocked because she asked if I was okay. As we were walking past all the different tables to the people that were sat on the tables all said well done and congratulations.
Thinking back to it I remember how dizzy I felt, I thought I was going to faint in front of everyone, I was so amazed and so shocked that I didn’t really take into account what I was doing, while walking up to the stage I nearly missed the step to get onto the stage (How embarrassing – Probably shouldn’t have mentioned that in this post – Whoops – Oh well!). I remember Neal talking to me and I remember him saying, “Alison wait one second, we have something to show you”, and then there was a video playing. It was a video of Robin Banks talking (Part of Jack FM). Thinking back to watching the video on the stage, all I can remember from the video was that he said I was an inspiration and that I’m part of what makes Reading a great place. I was amazed!
After that I got walked over to Chris Tarrant, where I was given my award and a pot of white roses. We had a picture taken which was put in the paper a few days later. Then I was told to walk to the back of the room where there was a door, the same lady that led me to the stage walked me through the doors. I was greeted by a few different radio stations, not all at once but as we went down the corridor, each different person either had a notebook or a camera or a microphone and I was asked loads of different questions. At this point I was over the moon, so happy, so excited. Then we went into a smaller room where there was a lady with a notebook who asked me loads of different questions. I was still so shocked and amazed.
When I finished talking to the lady, I was walked back to the table I was sat at. We watched the rest of the awards being given out. The people at Jack FM gave me a kindle because they knew that I’m a bookworm. When leaving the massive hall, we all went in the smaller hall to have drinks from the bar in the hall. I have never been congratulated that much, everyone was so nice.
The support I got on social media that night was mad, I was so happy with the amount of support I got, there was massive amounts of support from loads of people months after Pride of Reading, and I still have a massive amount of support now from a lot of people.
Shout out to those who have been supportive from day 1, also a massive shout out to Jack FM, Get Reading and all the people that congratulated me at Pride of Reading and gave me so much support since the event! I would also like to thank the youth workers and volunteers that I work with, I learn a lot from them, they are great role models, I hope to be able to do their job as well as they do. I would like to name them but I’m not allowed to, they know who they are. I see the great difference they make in people’s lives. I would also like to thank the children that are giving me the experience doing what I want to do after my education, not that anyone should ever give up the opportunity to learn and better their lives.
I never thought I’d be where I am today, I didn’t think it was possible. Just wanted to say another thank you for the support, and thank you for reading! Much love – Alison xx