To say the above sounds slightly surreal is a bit of an understatement. But, somehow, yesterday evening I attended a dinner in Central London to receive my award from the Guild of Motoring Writers and Jaguar.
What is the Sir William Lyons Award?
"Sponsored by Jaguar Cars in memory of Sir William Lyons, founder, and president of Jaguar Cars, this annual award – trophy, £2,000 and two years’ provisional membership of The Guild of Motoring Writers – was set up to encourage young people to foster interest in motoring and the motor industry through automotive journalism. Open to any person of British nationality resident in the UK aged 17–23 years at the closing date, it is regarded as the one to win in motoring journalism."
Two weeks ago I opened my Gmail inbox to find an email from Richard Aucock, a motoring journalist and previous winner of the Sir William Lyons Award. A read-through at half-past six in the morning told me that I had won.
The prestigious Sir William Lyons Award is awarded by the Guild of Motoring Writers for the best young motoring writer, and is often regarded as the "most prestigious award for a motoring journalist".
Late last year, Carrie Mathieson (@CarrieMathieson) tweeted me a link to the Guild of Motoring Writers competition. I debated about entering, because, honestly, I thought that I would never stand a chance looking at the list of previous recipients. Jonathon Noble, Tim Pollard, Tim Swietochowski - all huge names in the field of journalism and PR.
After some consideration, I put pen to paper and formulated a draft. To enter, I had to write 1,000 words on how the world of motoring has changed in the past 50 years, as well as submitting an interview that I had carried out with someone from the world of motoring or motorsport.
The first task was tough. It took me out of my comfort zone of motorsport, but I enjoyed the challenge nonetheless. The piece took me about a week to write, and I would edit it each day until I was as happy as I would ever be with the final result. I am highly self-critical, so it took a lot of work to get the piece to where I wanted it to be!
As for the interview, I chose a piece I had done with Tatiana Calderon a month or so previous. Luckily for me, Calderon is a very good speaker, and so made interviewing her a dream!
I submitted my pieces, scanned over my entrant form and that was that. The experience was good, I told myself.
That, however, brings me to Monday 23rd January 2017.
Last night I attended my awards dinner, along with my Dad, at The Edition - a boutique hotel, just off Oxford Street.
Upon arriving, we were directed to the private dining room upstairs where guests for the dinner were gathering. Introductions were made and congratulations were given. I had to pinch myself a good few times before I had even sat down!
After a champagne reception, I took my seat next to Ken McConomy, Head of PR at Jaguar Land Rover. It is not old news that I aspire to work in PR, so it was brilliant to spend the night talking to him. A real privilege.
Ian Callum, Head of Design at Jaguar, was also present at the dinner, along with Sir William Lyon's grandson Michael Quinn and the vice-chairman of the guild, Ray Hutton.
There was one thing I couldn't help but notice; out of the 14 people that attended, I was the only female...
Dinner was incredible - like nothing I had ever had before. And, the icing on the cake of the night was certainly getting to ask Ian Callum questions about Jaguar, his career and where he thinks the future of the motor car is headed.
The night is one that I shall cherish forever, and I hope that it is just the start of my career in motoring and motorsport.
I would like to send out my thanks to the Guild of Motoring Writers and Jaguar for giving me this incredible opportunity.