What a day, what an experience…

What a day, what an experience…

I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to attend the Pricess Royal Training awards a couple of weeks back with Gateshead College. Here is my blog on the days events. The blog can be found here.

Steven White, one of our Mental Health Champions was a guest at St James’ Palace when the college collected two Princess Royal Training Awards for our commitment to coaching and raising awareness of mental health. He shares his experience at the Palace in his blog…

It was an honour to be asked to attend the Princess Royal Training awards at St James’ Palace in London on behalf of the college. 

Being asked a couple of weeks back to attend the awards did leave me with many thoughts and being a bit out of my comfort zone was one of them. I’m usually laid back and don’t really like recognition, however these opportunities come around once in a lifetime and you have to grab them with both hands. 

I had a nice early start, getting the train from Morpeth to head to Newcastle where I met the other college guests and we boarded our train to London.

Arriving at the Palace felt very surreal, I’m not sure how many times I checked, and double checked I had everything to get in. After checking in, we were asked to leave phones in the cloakroom (strictly no phones or photography on site) and we headed off to the reception before the awards.

Whilst it was a shame that I couldn’t take pictures around the Palace it’s fully understandable why, it really does have to be seen to be believed. The size and layouts of the rooms are incredible with a great attention to detail, from the huge paintings and furniture to the large open fires. A large room with swords and guns met us after checking in and walking through the room it makes you reflect on sacrifices that loved ones from previous generations made for us today. 

We then moved into the Picture Gallery for the main awards and The Princess Royal’s arrival. Sir John Armitt of City and Guilds opened the awards and passed onto The Princess Royal who gave a passionate speech about the awards as well as the process that is involved in getting the awards which makes you really appreciate, not only how tough they are to be awarded but also how significant they are. The Princess Royal then passed over to Chris Jones, CEO of City & Guilds, who spoke about each company as they received their awards. 

It was pleasing to see a wide range of companies that vary in size collecting awards but more so from a college perspective it was rewarding to see college partners, Essity and Go North East collecting awards for programmes we’ve delivered jointly with them.

I was so proud to see our Principal, Judith collect our two awards for our mental health and coaching programmes. It just goes to show what brilliant team effort can achieve and it was fantastic to receive this recognition for the college and also for our partners. Judith often mentions teamwork and getting these awards really does show what we, as a team, can do.

On a more personal note there was a very special moment when our Walk and Talk got a mention at the Palace, something that I had a fair amount of involvement with. Who would have thought that something our Mental Health Champions came up with in one of our meetings would end up being mentioned at St James’ Palace in front of The Princess Royal? Not me…! 

I’m sure it will take some time for the visit to the Palace to sink in fully and what we as a college have achieved. But everyone can be proud of the awards and all of the hard work they put in to make days like these possible.