At the end of March last year, an email dropped into my mailbox with the words “Dear Julie, someone thinks you’re amazing!” My first thoughts were that it was some strange spam message, but it turned out to be the beginning of a truly wonderful experience.
Reading on I discovered I had been nominated for a Womenspire award in the Woman in Sport category and the email was congratulating me on this achievement. It was a lovely touch and it brought a smile to my face. What happened next was quite remarkable and for me, quite surprising. A few weeks later, I received another email congratulating me on being finalist.
Wow, this was so unexpected, a real honour to be short-listed for a national award. I was over the moon.
The evening itself at St. Fagans was a celebration of truly inspiring and motivating woman, and I was delighted and proud to be a part of it all. The weather was glorious and the atmosphere was electric. There were performance artists, inspirational quotes to read, fabulous snacks to sample and a beautiful setting. What more could you ask for?
Hosted by Shan Cothi, we were treated to film clips of the nominees sharing their inspiring stories (no wonder it was a difficult job for the judges) and the winners of each category were announced. Winners came from across Wales. I was truly surprised and delighted on hearing my name.
As a completely blind athlete who competes in both the world of sighted and para sport, I was totally overwhelmed to win this national award. I couldn’t stop smiling.
What I didn’t know was the evening was not over. As I relaxed and enjoyed listening to all the incredible work that was going on across Wales we drew to a close. Shan began to talk about all the award winners and how they had picked one to be the Champion of Champions. I wasn’t even aware that this was going to happen. They then began to describe how it was so hard to do this as everyone was so different, but one person did stand out for overcoming such adversity and shining through. I remember thinking to myself, ‘well done to that person.’ Then they said my name. You could have knocked me down with a feather; I was well and truly stunned, totally unprepared, but totally humbled.
To hear so many people cheering, clapping, and standing for me was so amazing. I was so touched by it all. To think I have inspired so many people was truly incredible.