From the blog...

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Gemfest is very exhausting to organise to say the least. And after the event in 2016, just as we were holding the post event raffle and tying up loose ends, I was beginning to relax and wind down, then I received a phone call.

“Hi, is that Gemma?”

“Yes…..” in a less than welcoming tone as I assumed it was a cold caller!

“Hi I’m calling from Radio Exe. We are just calling to let you that you were nominated to be “Volunteer Of The Year” at this years Pride Of Devon awards…………and I am delighted to confirm that you are our winner!”

I was gobsmacked! My voice went up a few octaves as I started squealing “Oh my goodness – really? Are you serious? Is this a joke? That’s amazing!!”

She went on to say that me and a guest would attend the ceremony at The Devon County Show ground where I would collect my award.

The obvious and deserving choice to attend the event with me was Susan as we started Gemfest together. Also she was one of the people who nominated me!! I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone except family and close friends about the award until after the event and that was tough!! I was bursting with excitement and just wanted to tell everyone! I went out shopping and treated myself to a new dress and booked for my hair to be done. My cousin is a make up artist and arranged for me and Susan to have our make up done on the day. It was all very glamorous!

The venue was lovely, a huge marquee with white linen, sparkling cutlery, gleaming glasses and a beautiful floral centrepiece on each table. Everybody looked lovely and had made a real effort! There were a few faces around that I recognised and so we mingled and chatted with a few people before being served a delicious meal.

Then the ceremony started and was hosted by Judi Spiers. I had met Judi a few times before so didn’t feel too nervous! And luckily she announced at the start that there were to be no acceptance speeches due to time constraints, this was a huge relief!!! There were 14 categories in total, including teacher of the year, community contribution award and child of achievement.There was some truly emotional and inspiring stories being shared in that room and I couldn’t believe I was actually part of it!

When it was my turn to collect my award, Judi said some lovely words about me and what I have achieved over the years. She talked about how the “Volunteer of the Year” was a very popular category and how I should be proud of myself for having won it! My friends were cheering and everyone in the room was clapping as I accepted my lovely shiny award! I felt so happy and overwhelmed. I really enjoy organising Gemfest and all of the other little bits I do for Hospiscare. But to have public recognition and appreciation for my hard work is such a lovely feeling! Especially as it was so unexpected!

So now my award takes pride of place in my living room. Maybe I should start a collection?! Next Stop – Pride of Britain!