Last month I was delighted to be in the Independent Top 100 Happy List. On June 26th, a party was held at The Grange St Pauls Hotel in London to celebrate the achievements of all the winners.
I haven't been to London for over twenty years, so didn't know what changes to expect. This week I was in Devon visiting my son, so Derek, my partner and I caught the train to Paddington from Exeter. My first journey on a 125 in over thirty years! Fortunately we had reserved our seats so were able to enjoy the views of the countryside as the train sped through the various counties.
Just over two hours and Paddington station loomed in front of us. Thirty minutes on the underground tube train and we were in Tower Hill. The noise, the people, the traffic, the buildings, the landmarks,the bustle- what a change from the quiet city that I live in, namely Hereford!
Time for a walk along Tower Bridge and then it was back to our hotel to get ready for the party. Another short tube journey found us in St Pauls and our party hotel loomed before us. A stone's throw from the magnificent St Pauls Cathedral. We were shown to the ballroom where the party was being held. A smiley happy sticker was placed on our outfits and a welcome glass of wine or fruit juice was given.
So many happy people were all gathered and small talk had begun between total strangers. Derek and I were chatting to Dr John Low, chief executive of CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) who had been invited to meet us all.
The next person we spoke to was Ray Edwards, a quadruple amputee who has set up Limbcare
John Low is the Chief Executive of CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) and was awarded a CBE for services to the voluntary sector and to deaf people in 2008.
Ray Edwards MBE. Ray is a quadruple amputee who founded Limbcare. Ray is a Motivational and Inspirational speaker, offering empathy, not sympathy.
The speeches then followed. After the managing director of Grange St Pauls introduced himself, the Independent on Sunday editor, Lisa Markwell welcomed all of us. The Happy List has been running for the last seven years and was founded by David Randall.
This year was the first time a party has been held to celebrate everyone's achievements. The guest speaker, Nicholas Hurd MP, then spoke and expressed his thanks and admiration for all the people present.
He made a point of saying that happiness is not bought with money, it is bought with acts of human kindness and good deeds
Nicholas Hurd MP. MP for Ruislip and Minister for Civil Society since 2010
Trays of delicious canapés and drinks followed. I had a chat with Lisa Markwell about Oapschat and its aims and goals. Nicholas posed for photos with various winners, myself included! More socialising followed and photos were taken. Website details and FB pages were exchanged and animated conversations flowed.
Lots of ideas for the future were discussed!
Trina Whittaker. Trina has been campaigning for Rethink Mental Illness for ten years and also runs arts and carers groups in Braintee.
Efe Ezekiel. TV producer Efe mentors young people through her movement Ushine Ishine creating documentaries to showcase their talents.
Renny Antonelli. Renny co- founded The Green Backyard in Peterborough with his daughter Sophie. They helped transform a derelict site into a community allotment.
All too soon, the party drew to a close. A raffle was held and one lucky winner has won a one night stay at the hotel!
It was certainly an evening I will never forget. So many fantastic people doing so much good and bringing HAPPINESS to so many. I'm very proud and honoured to be on this list.
I will do my best to keep www.oapschat.co.uk fresh and challenging and hope that the website will grow and grow. With your continuing support and input, I'm sure it will
The full Gallery can be seen on the website here.
The people I am photographed with can all be found on the happy list. Please follow the link below.