I was hooked the moment the tantalising invite landed on my desk – an invite to the industry party of the year, the NABS Big Bash. Thanks to my Regional Director, Graeme Hughes, nominating me for a Centurion Award I’d been shortlisted for this year’s NABS accolade. Once I stepped into the discreet looking marquee entrance at The Artillery Garden at the MAC, I, along with the other 849 guests, was transported into a wondrous land fit for Alice, the White Rabbit and Co. It definitely had the titular feel of being Stranger than Summer. The wilderness garden and enchanted forest were alive with golden centaurs roaming around accepting selfies, walking hedgerows posing in front of giant diva shoes, micro pigs grunting their hearts out and a most delightful carousel. All of this before my eyes before I’d even had chance to grab a drink!
Hosted this year by comedian Stephen Mangan, the Big Bash is all about celebrating the generosity of the advertising industry and raising some all important funds so that NABS can carry on doing what it does best – enabling and supporting people in the world of advertising and media. Over the last 12 months I’ve learned that NABS is more than just a charity – they offer fantastic networking platforms, 1-2-1 mentoring with the best brains our industry has cultivated, awe-inspiring talks with leading business icons and more! However, all of this goodness is only possible through the voluntary donations people make to NABS, and leading by example there were some hefty sums being pledged on the night thanks to the tempting treats on offer during the very lively auction. I believe our very own CEO Naren Patel dug deep too.
Just before the evening act took to the stage (all I say here is “Can I get a rewind”) it was time to announce the 2014 Centurion winner. All 10 shortlisters were called up on stage – cue my blushing face that clashed with my fuschia ensemble – and before I could adjust my eyes to the spotlight shining on us all there it was ... my name being called out. Time slowed down as I processed what the NABS Chief Exec Zoe Osmond had just said. I’d been announced as the 2014 winner!
You can find out more about what the judging panel deem to constitute a Centurion here but suffice to say I was blown away. I hadn’t thought for a moment that I’d win and was honoured to have been nominated in the first place. Along with the humble acceptance of the title, I was given a £2,000 career development grant, kindly donated by DMG Media, to help further my career and hopefully inspire the next generation of NABS Centurions. No pressure then! My exclusive trophy even bagged me exclusive backstage access to the secret act of the night – Craig David.
To sum up – it was a magically stranger than summer night that I will never forget!