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When I received my first email from Daniel Skermer and saw my old boss’ name I assumed she had been nominated for another PA Forum award and I needed to write a few words about how amazing she is, but the further I read on I realised that it was actually the other way around, she had put me forward for an award.  My initial thoughts were that I didn’t deserve something like this, and how was I going to talk about myself, for 5 questions and answers?! I put the application off for a few days, thinking of what to say but nothing sounded right; I decided I was going reply to Daniel saying how grateful I was for the nomination, but I couldn’t imagine going through a process that required talking about myself. However, unbeknownst to me, a colleague had completed the application on my behalf and returned it. No going back now!

The idea of being nominated, and the process that followed made me nervous, but Daniel’s friendly emails quickly put me at ease. I soon felt a part of this PA Forum community, with lots of invitations for events to meet my fellow nominees and the incredible team working hard behind the scenes. Although, the nerves soon set in again when I discovered I had progressed to the next stage to complete a telephone interview. I’m the first to admit that I am not good at talking myself up, so interviews are not something I look forward to! I prepared as much as I could, trying to plan what I was going to say, but of course when I was on the phone to the judges that all went out the window and I couldn’t tell you how I answered the questions.

Much to my surprise, I received an email to say that I had been shortlisted for the next stage and would attend a face to face interview; I was determined to not let my nerves get the better of me this time. I hadn’t really told anyone at work, so had to hide my excitement and make up a reason as to why I had left the office early to attend my interview, which probably looked a bit suspicious looking back! I arrived at the Radisson Blu in Birmingham and was greeted by Daniel, and even though we had only ever spoken over email he instantly put me at ease and started chatting as if we had known each other forever – which was exactly what I needed and I can’t thank him and the team enough, not only before the interview but throughout the whole process. I walked into the room and the interview began. I had prepared all my answers and it was all going well, but then the judges, Angela Mortimer and Andrew Jardine, asked me my most feared question – “Why do you feel you should win this Award?”. I started out with a sentence not knowing where it was going to end up and could see the slightly confused look on both of their faces. At this point, I said “I think it must be an English trait to not like talking about yourself and your achievements and struggle to take a compliment” which made Angela and Andrew laugh, and both reply “it is definitely not and English trait! We have no problem with it, and neither should you. All you have to say when someone praises you is Thank You”. It was then that the reality set in that I had made it this far, and I should believe in myself a little more; something I will keep working on and remember when someone pays me a compliment, all I have to say is “Thank You” and know that I am doing a good job.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the night itself, but from what I have heard it was an amazing night enjoyed by all. Hannah Smith, who had nominated me attended on my behalf, and there is no one else I would have wanted there representing me. She has had a huge impact on my life, not just professionally and I wouldn’t be where I am today (winning awards!) without her. I had sent her a text early in the evening to see how it was all going and hadn’t had a reply for hours; I was starting to get a bit anxious and assumed I hadn’t won, and she couldn’t bring herself to tell me. Then, finally, she sent me a picture. It was of the award, and it had my name on it. I couldn’t quite believe it at first, but then thought about what I had learnt throughout this whole process and all the advice I had received from the judges.

I am so proud to have won this award and be a part of this great community of the PA Forum and Awards and look forward to everything that might come my way in the future as a result. Daniel and the whole team have been incredible from the start, and continue to be now, with emails of praise and support and invites to some great events. For anyone like me who doesn’t enjoy interviews, networking, ceremonies and everything that comes with it, I couldn’t urge them enough to give it a go and get involved with the PA Forum and Awards; it is nothing like how I thought it would be, and I mean that in the best possible way!