Twenty five years of fighting back at eating disorders and educating people about the impact they have deserves a year of celebration, right? Well, that's exactly what Beat is doing throughout '14.
The charity has launched a five-point 25th Anniversary Manifesto. Five little promises it's making to help improve life for those affected by eating disorders. Five points which they (and I) hope prevent people suffering in the first place. Five areas in which other people can pledge to join the fight on too. Those little promises are things I'm proud to say I've already actively been pushing for since becoming a Media Volunteer for Beat during my own recovery, which leads me nicely on to the Beat Awards.
I was honoured to find out I had been nominated and then short-listed for a Beat Volunteer Recognition Award for the campaigning I do on those very pledges. Seriously, honoured.
An invitation landed in my inbox to a special event at the House of Commons on the 4th June during National Volunteers Week and I found out about the inspiring folk I was up against in the 'Public Awards' Campaigning category. First thoughts? No chance. But I found a little black dress, dusted off my Viv Westwood shoes and my amazing friend Ilona and I headed to the smoke.
We were greeted by the Beat team onto the Thames-side Terrace Pavilion and spent time sipping wine and talking to other volunteers, MPs and eating disorders advocates. I was honoured that both my local MP, Jeremy Lefroy and Brooks Newmark MP came along to support me, after all it's them I keep pestering to help make change possible. Caroline Nokes MP, who chairs the All-Party group which got eating disorders talked about in parliament opened the event. Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd MP spoke and presented the first award, the Lifetime Achievement Award to Diana Davis.
|Jeremy Lefroy MP, me and Brooks Newmark MP|
Next the awards move on to the other categories, from innovation, to fundraising and from education to support. Then it was time for the campaigning award, recognising;
"A volunteer who is a passionate and powerful champion; demonstrating enthusiasm and passion, they provide a voice in helping to achieve Beat’s mission."
I was one of four nominees, along with Helen Missen, a Beat Cymru Ambassador, fellow media volunteer Jenny Cole and Rosie Driffill, Self Help and Support Groups Facilitator and Publicity Officer. And then my name was read out by Beat's Chief Executive, Susan Ringwood and my award handed to me by Caroline Nokes MP. I'd only gone and won it.
|Caroline Nokes MP, Me and my MP, Jeremy Lefroy.|
I am beyond honoured to have been recognised for the work I've done to support Beat's mission, I never thought I'd be able to make a difference. I just talk, share and stand up for what I believe. However, winning this award isn't just about what I do, but it's a reminder that collectively we CAN all make a difference. I do nothing special other than be honest about what it's like to have anorexia and be fighting it. Personally, I will keep pushing for what I believe needs to change and in my own recovery, I'm going to use it as a reminder of the part I can play in preventing others going through what I have.
|With the other Award winners, Susan Ringwood and Caroline Nokes MP|
So, I'm really bad at being proud of myself, as you may imagine with my illness, so I'll leave my final words to one of the people who nominated me: "Sarah is an inspiration to many. Still in recovery from anorexia she spends much of her time campaigning, getting involved in Beat's mission and also using her position as a journalist for good. She actively participates in her local NHS Trust and has lobbied her MP - even managing to secure a meeting in Parliament. She is a champion of Beat, active on her blog and social media and consistently participates in media opportunities helpling to enforce Beat's Guidelines and raise awareness."
Here's the gushy 'Oscar style' bit; Thank you to all of you who've read my blog, listened to my rants, retweeted my awareness tweets and to everyone who's supported my own recovery. To my EDU team who saved my life. Thank you to Jeremy Lefroy for his continued support. Thank you to Brooks Newmark who actively keeps in touch with me and to BEAT for allowing me to do what I do. To Ilona for inspiring me and kicking me in the right direction daily. And always, to all my friends and family for your belief that I can beat anorexia, even when I worry I won't.
I really wouldn't be able to do any of this without you, and trust me when I say, I haven't even got started on the waves I want to make yet.
See the FULL list of inspiring winners and what they've done for ED awareness HERE