I looked at the guest list and gulped. It was full of BIG names; travel publications like Condé Nast Traveller and National Geographic, renowned PR agencies like Four BGB and Hills Balfour and tourism boards ranging from Scotland to Mauritius. And then me, from some little unknown website called 40before30.com.
The awards begun. Prizes were handed out to really talented people from Lonely Planet and to the likes of Kevin May from Tnooz. I skulked at the back and tweeted:
“What am I doing here?!”
The awards were being swiftly handed out and soon enough it was time to announce the Travel Blogger of the Year – this first time this prize had ever been awarded at the British Travel Press Awards. The judges were read out:
Joel Brandon-Bravo, Travelzoo
Pleasance Coddington, VisitBritain
Alison Couper, Expedia Inc
Then the six nominees were announced. I raised my camera to get a picture of my face on screen as a nominee, thinking this was as good as it gets. I wasn’t really listening to what the announcer was saying, getting frustrated with my camera and it’s poor pictures in the dark. I thought I heard something that sounded like my name. My boyfriend was looking at me ecstatically.
“REALLY?” I said.
I fought my way through the crowd to get to the stage. People I respect hugely were congratulating me. It seemed to take ages and the man on the mike commented about the delay. On stage I worried about straightening my dress and breathing in for the camera, completely overwhelmed by what was happening. The announcer was saying something about why I had won, mentioning the 40before30 challenge, how I share my travel adventures and misadventures along the way.
Stepping down from the stage there followed a moment which put the icing on the cake. Resplendent in purple silk and that famous golden tan, “Well done” said Judith Chalmers OBE – to ME!!!! If I was ever asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up I would invariably reply Judith Chalmers, presenter of travel show ‘Wish you were here’. I suppose, in a way, I have found my own way to present the ‘Wish you were here’ concept. A way that fits the current approach for reading, researching and being inspired to travel; through this brand new industry we call social media.
Now for the cheesy thank you bit..
So I really want to thank you guys for bothering to read these musings on travel that I enjoy sharing so much. For caring enough to respond and engage with me, for being inspired to travel to places that I have enjoyed visiting. Thanks to the other travel bloggers who have shared their tips for success with me and to the wonderful fellow nominees I shared the evening with – Abigail King and Paul Corbett. Thanks to my mum for being my first subscriber and to my boyfriend who insisted on attending the Travel Press Awards with me although I told him it would be a waste of his time. Turns out it wasn’t!
You can view a full list of the winners at the British Travel Press Awards 2011 on their website.