I have mentioned before that my theme for this year is ‘stepping out of my comfort zone’ I have already accomplished things I wouldn’t have done last year like public speaking, lifestyle shoot and going abroad. So, when Paige messaged me to ask if I would be a catwalk model for the Purple Wings event I just went with my theme and said ‘yes’ even though deep down I started doubting myself. I pushed those thoughts away and saw it as another experience to participate in.
So, on the 31st March Purple Wings put on a catwalk event in the Copthorne Hotel, Birmingham which involved browsing around a few stands, a talk from Lauren and Fiona and then later on 11 ostomates all strutted their stuff down the catwalk. It was a fantastic day and was well attended.
Whenever I go to these events I always feel quite overwhelmed when I think that the majority of people in the room have an ostomy. It is always surreal meeting everybody face to face after months of communicating online. I highly recommend attending any event with other ostomates because something magical happens. Online support is fantastic but sometimes you can’t beat that face to face interaction and the ‘oh me too’ moment!
Steve and I woke up quite early and the nerves started to kick in. While we were getting ready to leave we were practising our struts which ended in lots of giggles and laughter (I knew Steve would smash it and secretly loved it!) We arrived early to help Paige, Sam and Tiffany set up. The room looked amazing with the purple arch and the chairs outlining a walkway. Over the next few hours, all the catwalk models trickled in and I think we all had an element of nervousness going on. It was great to meet new friends and old friends and I was lucky that my mum came with her crew to come support the charity which was lovely.
There were 7 stands for:
I tried to go around them all and chat to everybody but sometimes this can be hard, the only stand I missed was Respond but I will make sure I see them next time at the ball. My mum treated me to some jeans from I am Denim and she was excited to meet Jasmine and Lauren in person.
Lauren did an awesome speech talking about body confidence and what that means to ostomates. She then talked about the expansion of Purple Wings to provide grants for anybody with an ileostomy, colostomy and urostomy which will be launching in September.
We ate some lovely food and then it was time for all the models to get ready in our little room! While this was happening Fiona from Winnie and Me did a speech that apparently was fantastic but unfortunately, the models missed it because we were getting ready.
Can I just say that Paige was on fire and had organised a rota for the walk and discussed with us her vision. She made us feel really comfortable and not once were we unsure of what we were doing. At this point, I think we probably had the same amount of nerves and excitement going on as we started putting on our underwear and touching up our makeup. Just before we went out Paige took a picture of us all in our dressing gowns and for some reason, I really love this picture!
So the models that took part were:
Ta’lia - wearing Boux Avenue
Louise - wearing Jasmine Stacey Collection
Tiffany - wearing White Rose Collection
Lisa - wearing Primark and Stoma Style pouches
Mark - wearing White Rose and I am Denim
Steve - wearing Vanilla Blush
Rachel - wearing Jasmine Stacey Collection and La Senza
Angelina - wearing jeans from AURA Clothing
Natalie - wearing jeans from AURA Clothing
Charlotte - wearing I am Denim trousers
I think we all did amazing as soon as we saw the first two go down and the crowd were so encouraging, clapping and whooping excitement kicked in. I took a breath and just enjoyed the moment without too much judgement of myself. We all rushed to get ready for our second number and some girls had to have 3 changes. Steve and I then went down together and it felt so special to do this with him be my side I couldn’t hide an immense smile and how proud I felt. While we went down together I braved having my bags out to showcase Stoma Style pouches which Lisa made for all of the models. This was a big hurdle and achievement for myself that I overcome getting my bags out in front of an audience with my hernia and prolapse. I also decided to walk down with no crutch and used this afterwards which again was another achievement (the crutch provides stability for the prolapse).
Once we had all walked down we then came out together and that was another lovely moment. I’m not sure about the others but I was buzzing so much I can’t remember any of the music that was playing but I felt proud of myself and all of us for taking part. We got some flowers for Paige, Lauren and Sam to say thank you for all the time and effort that they put into the charity and presented this at the end of the group walk. Lauren and Paige said some lovely comments about our walk and how brave we were to do it. Once it was over quite a few of us said could have gone down again because we were buzzing so much.
We arrived back in the room and got changed all chuffed, laughing and on fire. I think all of us felt a sense of achievement and although some of us were nervous we did it and pushed through the fear.
Afterwards, we chattered to a few people and then we all started to disperse, my mum and friends were going back to Wales and eventually we all started to leave.
I felt exhausted but extremely proud of myself that I faced another fear and stepped out of my comfort zone. It was lovely to see everybody and now I cannot wait for the ball on the 11th August 2018.
On a side note if anybody would like to help fundraise for this small charity with a big heart I know they would appreciate the support. The grants help ostomates regain their confidence after ostomy surgery which ultimately helps change lives. With the expansion of Purple Wings to include every stoma type in September they need more fundraising so if you fancy abseiling, doing a sponsored silence (mum) or a parachute jump then please keep Purple Wings in mind!
Thank you for reading,