We drive into the parking area at Lansdown Racecourse, it is a glorious evening and the sun shines on all the vehicles already parked. As we walk across to the foyer to the marquee I am struck by how smart everyone looks. We are used to seeing each other in a work environment and, although I know most people there, I am not used to seeing them in evening suits and ball gowns. There is a real buzz around the throng in the reception area and as we pick up our champagne I get the feeling this is going to be a great evening.

Mercedes had done us proud again this year and have a fine selection of expensive motor cars on display for us to drool over. Most of the attendees look as if they would be really at home in one!

I realise as I walk into the marquee to find our place that the numbers are much greater this year and the space by the bar has now been filled with tables. There is a hubbub of conversation and laughter that gets louder and louder as more people arrive to take their seats.

So many people know each other from the sector and have either arrived together or found friends that they haven’t seen for a while. There is an air of fun and laughter around the place. The bar starts to get busy!

The event is opened by David Smallacombe and we sit down to eat. It is not easy to serve a three course meal to 240 people successfully but the Bath racecourse staff manage it really well. Just to keep us on our toes our celebrity guest, Lynne Faulkes-Wood, mingles with the guests between courses and encourages them to give us a song. There is a mixture of abject fear from all us non-singers as she approaches- please don’t pick me out!!- and great enthusiasm from those who can sing who are eager to show off their skills. Who would have believed there are so many great singers in the Care Industry- plus a couple who didn’t quite hit the spot but made the evening so much more fun by having a go. It was like an evening of C&SW has got talent!

Then on to the real business as the finalists and winners of the Awards were revealed. Lynne did a fine job and all the finalists were proud to be selected and their achievements recognised by the attendees. Winners were cock a hoop and their supporters certainly made everyone know how they felt about it. Cheers, shouts, and such loud whistles galore!

It was great to see our sponsors there too. Not only had they supported us during the year but they had turned up to support on the night and some even got to present an award for their troubles.

I was filled with a mixture of pride that we had such great people in our industry, pride that the event was such a good evening of fun, and humility that such a number of unsung heroes do such a lot of great work. It is so good for us to be able to recognise that.

We finished the evening with the traditional auction, run by John Stapleton, that raised quite a few laughs and quite a lot of money. Then there was time for photographs, drinks, a bit of dancing, and a well-deserved pat on everyone’s back.

It is hard to believe that in 4 short years the event has gone from 60 attendees to over 240 with an even greater increase in the number of entries. We always wanted this event to be our local showpiece to show the world just how good the vast majority of care providers are. Never mind all the horror stories that hit the press in sensational fashion. Yes, they do happen but day in, day out, so much good work is done and this is one of the few chances we get to recognise that, blow our own trumpet and, Yes, let our hair down a bit.

The Awards get better every year and I hope that will continue. Will I be there next year? You can count on it!

Len Collacott- Chairman C&SW

Members NewsLydia Walker