VA Awards Best Newcomer 2022

The background on attending the UK VA Conference and Awards is a weird one.

When I first decided that ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ and nominate myself (which btw, is very weird to nominate yourself! It feels a bit big headed…but on the other hand, if I don’t blow my own trumpet, who else will?!) So self-nomination decided I sat down one day when I had 5 mins spare with a cuppa in between housework and chores.

I’ve never done anything like this before, so I thought I’d have to submit my name, address, business name and maybe a few lines about myself and my business. 1st mistake, how wrong was I?!?! It was full on, detailed questions that I wasn’t at all prepared for. I was doing this on my phone and we all know writing detailed information with tiny squares is not fun.

So there I was panicking like a good un, trying to think of all these things I was being asked while trying to ensure all the spelling mistakes were corrected and it actually made sense. My tea went cold, and I think I remember sweating ???? 

When I got the email to be shortlisted, I wasn’t overly shocked. That’s where I made my second mistake. I thought all who applied got shortlisted. So, everyone got through…no biggy.

When I got an email to say I was a finalist…holy crap!! I mean – What? Me? Why? How? Really??????

At this point, I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to go to the Conference. How could I leave the kids? It was a 4 and half hour drive that I’d have to do on my own. I can’t afford it.

But then…a random email with my long-term friend who I haven’t seen in 30 years and fellow VA who not only was all that but was the lady who started me on my VA journey and took me under her wing, prompted a conversation where she said she was going. Suddenly, I was like “I REALLY want to go. I REALLY want to see Gwen”.  I rushed indoors to my husband and ran through ALL the options. An hour later, I had booked my tickets and hotel room. (In hindsight, third mistake. Book hotel closer to the venue next time!!)

I was going! I then started getting excited with all the insider chit chat. But with regards to the awards, I was very confident I really didn’t stand a chance of winning. 

A few days before I was due to go, my mind was all over the shop thinking about the leaving the kids on their own. 16 and 11 so decent ages but hubby would have already left for work and it’s just a big deal when I’ve always been there for them. I also found out registration for the conference started at 8.30am. That would have meant I needed to leave mine at 4am (and that didn’t even include a shower and getting myself ready beforehand). Thankfully, the hotel had the room available for the Thursday evening. Problem solved. Phew.

That Thursday, I finished work late, was rushing and my heart was beating so fast. But I left and embraced the long, quiet drive to Christchurch. Thankfully my husband and sat nav diverted me away from a 1 and half hour diversion on the M25 and all in all, it was a rather pleasant drive. I was rather chuffed with myself!

I started my Friday early and drove into Bournemouth with no complications. I walked down to the seafront and breathed in the sea air. I then walked back up the hill and started the Conference. What a day. I got to see my friend after 30 long years, I got to meet Amanda (Conference organiser and VA mentor) and I got to meet some real-life VAs that I only previously knew by name and a profile pic.  It was a flipping amazing day! I learnt so much and had a really wonderful, inspiring, fun, constructive day.

People kept coming up to me and either commenting on my sweatshirt (6 people either said they knew the brand of the sweatshirt I was wearing, or they liked my top…where was it from? ????) or people were congratulating me on being a finalist and wishing me the best of luck.  

I started to feel a bit odd. Maybe I did actually have a chance. I started to allow myself to think I could win. I mean I was 1 of 5. I now started to realise there was an actual chance.

Rushing back to the hotel to get changed, only to arrive back to Bournemouth late added to my nerves but the meal was amazing, and the atmosphere was buzzing.

I was shaking as the categories were announced. My name wasn’t read out for the Best Newcomer VA and I felt my heart drop a little. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit gutted, but I was also very happy for the wonderful lady who won it. It was a whirlwind of celebrations and after the awards were all finished, I found out I was a finalist out of over 40 applications for my category. That’s when it started to sink in that actually, what I’d achieved was pretty bloody awesome. The process wasn’t what I thought it was and I had made it to the final 5 ????

I’ve really taken that on board and came home happy, inspired and ready to keep working on my business. I’m embracing being a runner up and I’ve learnt about a new side of running my very own small business that I’ve not experienced before, and the fun stuff it brings with it. I’d have no hesitation in returning next year because the conference was amazing, and I’d very possibly nominate myself again but definitely learn from my experiences this year. Deary me…what a novice huh?! ????

But hey, also not bad for someone who’s only been in the VA business for 13 months. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and I’m grabbing that with both hands ????

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