The 20th November marked the fifth annual British Travel Press Awards, held at the stunning RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) venue, where travel industry experts gathered to celebrate the best writers, photographers and broadcasters of the year.
I was incredibly lucky to attend after being nominated for Travel Blogger of the Year – not only to be in the company of great creatives, but to be representing the growing travel blogging industry alongside my talented nominees and fellow bloggers, Kash from Budget Traveller, Jayne from 40 Before 30 and Victoria from Pommie Travels.
And it was great to hear that the travel blogging business is booming. It was noted that the judges of this category for this year – Oliver Brendon from Do Something Different, Debbie Hindle from Four BGB and Mark Maddock from lastminute.com – had their work cut out for them, with more entries submitted than ever before.
I remember Kash telling me I looked nervous as we waited for our category to come around – it was my first time at the event and this award would be something that would propel my travel writing career forward considerably. I’d spent six months building this blog before embarking on a 15 month journey travelling and working in Asia, and so it meant a lot to me to be nominated when my blog was still so young and in progression. Plus, to be a passionate writer and have that recognised is a dream we all chase.
Luckily the wine was flowing, many incredible people had scooped their awards and the room buzzed amidst the creativity. Then came our category, two awards from the end. As the names were read out, I remember the speaker mentioning that the winner was a blogger whose writing really allowed the reader to connect with the story and that the judges were impressed with the results of the blog over a short period of time. I knew it was me and within seconds my name was read out, and Kash let out a giant whoop. We all love a human fanfare, right? Everything from there was a blur – collecting the award and realising that this was the start of an amazing new journey in my career.
Another major highlight of the night was the attendance of a very special guest, Michael Palin – a man who inspired me to travel from a very young age. There to receive his Outstanding Contribution award, he spoke about the enriching power of travel whilst amusing us with his fantastic stories. All the winners got the chance to meet him on stage for a group shot and of course I had to muscle in next to him. If you haven’t realised by now, I am a determined little thing!
“So where will you be writing about next?” he asked, as I stood in awe that one of my travel heroes was asking me about MY work.
“Well, without sounding like a stalker,” I said, “my next post actually mentions you. It’s about visiting the DMZ in North and South Korea and the very first time I saw it was when you went there in one of your programmes. So, thank you for inspiring me.”
“Ah, well, that’s great!” he replied, “but you went when in North Korea too. I never did that.”
To the person who nominated me (you know who you are) and to my readers – without you this blog wouldn’t be the success it is today and so this is my thank you to each and every one of you. Here’s to many more adventures ahead.
The full list of the winners of the British Travel Press Awards 2013 can be found here.