I work with the NHS and the voluntary sector, so whilst my job is big on satisfaction and full of lovely people, it is very low on perks. Unless, of course, you like to gorge on hospital food in the deluxe surroundings of the staff canteen in between meetings (I don’t). So you can imagine how excited I was when my very lovely client the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust invited me to a ball.
Keen readers will recall from my blog about dinner with the ambassador, that I will happily sell my children into slavery to spend the night wearing a fancy frock and scoffing canapes. In fact, I love canapes so much, I sometimes think I should eat them at home, and perhaps start a ‘Canape Thursday’ tradition, the same way some couples have ‘date night’. But I digress…
On Friday night, I glammed up to the eyeballs and set out for the swanky Waldorf Hilton hotel in central London to attend the EYBN Black Tie Ball. The ball is hosted by EY’s (previously known as Ernst & Young) Black Network as part of their celebration of Black History Month, but it’s theme was very much future-focused: aspire and inspire.
It’s always a thrill to eat something I haven’t cooked myself (because my cooking is rubbish), but the real highlight was the guest speakers, who each gave a personal insight into how to build success.
Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson, who hasn’t aged a day since about 1990, talked about learning from the people you admire to become the best you can be, and of building a team of people around you who share your dream.
Scientist and the BBC’s ‘face of space’ Maggie Aderin-Pocock described how, despite her dyslexia, she changed from being ‘the dumb kid at the back of the class’ to sitting at the front when she discovered her passion for science.
Actor Arnold Oceng, who escaped from Uganda with his mother after his father and most of his family were killed in the civil war, reminded people that you don’t go from being a refugee to a film star, you have to start small and work hard.
Finally, broadcaster June Sarpong, who is now full-on and active in a range of charities, told the audience that you only need two things to succeed: equal access to opportunity and self-belief.
So how can I summarise the messages? Have a dream, believe in your own ability to achieve that dream, and then work hard to make it a reality.
All that wisdom AND dancing afterwards? You just can’t top it. Suddenly my job seems awesome, not just because I went on a great night out, but because I get to work with organisations like the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust who are helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their dreams and build their own success, like Colin, Maggie, Arnold and June before them. How lucky am I?
And as if all that glitz, glamour and good work weren’t enough, over £4,000 was raised for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and when the dancefloor was heaving with a mix of glamour and cool, I was dancing ’80s-style and wondering if the DJ would play anything by Take That. I think that’s how every great evening should end, don’t you?