Last year I went to my first ever Purple Wings Charity Day conference and ball and it blew me away! I had never been to an event like this before with other ostomates and I remember feeling a full range of emotions! I knew the girls from the IBD Support show and briefly Steve (at this moment in time) but I remember this strange feeling when you finally meet the people you have spoken online for a long time in the flesh!
So I was super excited for this year’s day conference and ball which was on the 11th August. This year would be slightly different because not only was I talking in the daytime about my story but I am also part of the Purple Wings team due to the recent expansion of the charity where ‘Time for me’ grants will now be offered to all stoma types.
This kicked off at 1 pm and went on till 4 pm but Steve and I went before to help set up. Also, Adam and Martin very bravely got their chest and legs waxed and raised £230 for the charity (thank you both)! Steve waxed Adam and I hear Steve enjoyed this a bit too much!!
The companies all started to organise their stands which included:
- I am Denim
- Peak Medical
- Urostomy Association
- Ileostomy Association
- Purple Wings Charity Stall
It was great to chat with all the companies and to collect a few samples. The room started to fill up and soon there was a lot of embracing as old friends were reunited and new connections occurred.
I was quietly getting nervous about my talk and I started to reflect on this time last year! We were asked to briefly talk about ‘The IBD and Ostomy Support Show’ and I was petrified! My 1-minute talk with the girls was not good at all! This year as part of my theme to step out of my comfort zone I wanted to improve my public speaking! Now I have done more than 12 and have learnt to enjoy it although I do get a bit nervous beforehand.
It was time… I did my little affirmation, took a deep breath and Lauren invited me to talk! It lasted 20 minutes and I was buzzing afterwards! I had a little lip wobble when I spoke about when I was told before my urostomy surgery that I would not be able to go full term and my dream of a family had vanished but that was only for a few seconds. However, I kept going and then talked about where it had changed for me, the opportunities that have arisen and a bit more about the expansion of Purple Wings.
Afterwards, Richard (aka Gutless Dick) came up to me and said he couldn’t believe the difference from the year before where I could hardly get my words out to the talk I just did, which was great to hear I had improved!
Lauren and I then gave the first urostomy grant to an amazing lady called Natalie Wicks who had her urostomy due to radiotherapy damage when she had treatment for cervical cancer at 23. I know Natalie had always wanted Jasmine Stacey Collection underwear but couldn’t afford it so we did this surprise grant for her. She went very red but afterwards told me how grateful she was and promised to post some of her famous selfies with the underwear!
There was a 45 min break to look around the stands and then Jessica Hynes came and spoke! Now, this was a powerful talk because Catherine is a mum to Patrick who is 2 years old and had an ileostomy due to Hirschsprung's disease. It took them 18 months to get a diagnosis and the way she described it sounded horrific. There was lots of laughter as she talked about a toddler with a stoma and the middle of the night! This was also brilliant again highlighting the expansion to all stoma types regardless of the reason and a few months ago a grant was given to Patrick to go to a theme park which he loved!
After, this talk, it was time for us all to go and get ready for the evening ball. Steve lives 10 minutes away so we did not get a room and drove back to his.
I have to say I don’t really go out and party anymore and there are not many times in my life I have worn a ball gown but I really love that at this event I can get ready and feel like a movie star! Steve looked very dapper and we arrived for the evening ball.
Everybody looked stunning and you could definitely recognise who were part of the ball in the hotel bar! We went into the room and were met with 12 tables beautifully decorated and we were on table 2! The food was lovely: Stilton and broccoli starter, chicken dinner then for dessert it was cheesecake! After we had eaten Lauren got up and did a talk. She quoted a song from ‘Moana’ which was very apt…
“Sometimes the world seems against you.
The journey may leave a scar.
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are.
The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on earth can silence
That quiet voice still inside you”
This hit home for me because the words are so true regarding my own experience but also I can imagine for every single person in that room.
Then we had the amazing Richard (Gutless Dick) read out 3 poems and he had the whole room in stitches! They were hilarious and I couldn’t help but think he needs to be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I think this would help raise awareness of stoma life through humour!
After that, we had a talk from Paige about her story and her past relationship and how she has moved on from this. Paige also talked about mental health and was very brave talking about a recent experience regarding this. I think everybody in the room wanted to give Paige a hug and she did really well.
Lauren gave out some thank you cards and vouchers to the team which was lovely and 2 trophies. The first trophy was for the top fundraiser which was Steve and the second trophy was for Purple WIngs Confidence award which went to Zak Perkins.
Then it was time to party the night away! There was also a photo booth which Steve and I didn’t actually use but we had a table pic and purple wings female team pic!
Unfortunately, I had a full blockage (due to eating Haribos… never again) so I was trying to push through with a smile on my face and I finally had output at 5 am. I tried to talk to everybody but sometimes this can be hard, if I didn’t speak to you I will next time. I had a brilliant time and I know lots of others did as well. You will never forget your first time at one of these events! Thank you all for making it a special day!
We hope to see you next year at possibly another location so watch this space…
Remember together and with the help of Purple Wings Charity we can:
‘Recover Adapt and Overcome’