It was an absolute honour and privilege to be one of the 35 Individuals to receive a British Citizen Award in July 2019 at The Palace of Westminster.
Ever since my accident I have been wanting to travel (especially to London) but have not had the courage to do so. The British Citizen Awards held in Westminster gave me the gentle nudge that I needed.
No matter where I am, my routine is the same and I still require 2 carers to be with me 24 hours a day. Fortunately we found a fantastic hotel, The Premier Inn at London Archway. They have disabled parking right outside the entrance and the hotel itself was really accessible and accommodating. The room I stayed in had a hoist and a really spacious wet room, which the hoist went from the bedroom into. Those who know me, know how important my morning routine of a shower and bowel care is to me, even when I am in London! The Staff were lovely too, so thoughtful to my needs and even left me a box of chocolates in my room with a card congratulating me on my Award.
I had one of my team sat in my hotel room while I slept and my Mum would come in from her room next door to help reposition me during the night. I had to take a lot of equipment with me including my Cough assist machine, Suction machine, Ventilator, Nebs machine, Shower chair aswell as all of the back-up equipment and meds that I need to take every day. One bonus was that the hotel had an overhead hoist which meant I didn’t need to take a mobile hoist with me
As we arrived at The Palace of Westminster we were taken straight through security by a Police Officer and then personally escorted by a host through Westminster via the accessible route. The setting for the first part of the Awards was on the Terrace at the Palace of Westminster where we overlooked the River Thames.
It was here that during a delicious Afternoon Tea, we heard, from Matt Allright, of everyone’s amazing stories and how each and everyone fully deserved an Award. We were all presented with our Awards and had photos taken.
After the ceremony we were all invited, by the Big Bus Tour Company, to go on one of their open top buses for a ‘lap of honour’ around London. This was a great opportunity to see lots of London landmarks and such a kind gesture of the company.
The day ended at Church House in Westminster with another opportunity to hear of everyone’s inspirational story in more detail and to also hear each individual speak about the work or the role they do for which they had been recognised for. The London International Gospel Choir performed and were fantastic! Whereas earlier, numbers were limited due to space, the evening saw Families and Friends join the Award Recipients. My team who had come to London with us and Rebecca’s family joined us at that point which was nice.
It was an absolutely amazing day and I felt so proud of what I had achieved. When I first woke up in hospital, 11 years ago to be told that I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and attached to a ventilator, I never thought, for one moment that I would one day be invited to The Palace of Westminster to receive an Award for my Volunteer work in the Community.
There were many happy tears shed that day by all of us!