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When Harry met Cissy!

By  4th October 2014

Dear my wonderful followers,

Welcome to, possibly, the most cheerful and happy blog post of mine yet!

I’ve had a brilliant week and a bit, and I can’t wait to tell you about it all, starting with the WellChild awards.

The morning of the awards, I woke up bright and early- someone from ITV would be arriving soon to film my family and I getting ready. It was a beautiful, bright day, and the weather reflected my mood. Ruth, the most lovely one-woman camera crew, arrived at 10am, and filmed our busy morning. After an interview about what I was wearing and how I was feeling, (which some of you may have seen), Ruth, Mummy and I head off to The Nail Spa in Cobham (highly recommended) for a manicure. We chose our colours and chatted about the wonderful and exciting evening to come.

Ruth left us shortly afterwards and we returned home to pack our bags and load the car. (I might mention that Melissa and Daddy were with us too!). The journey wasn’t too long, but the excitement made the minutes pass by quickly. We arrived at the Hilton Park Lane; at the front, men were setting up big back drops with WellChild written on it. It was really happening –  I had been waiting weeks for this event and it had finally arrived! We checked in and settled in to our rooms, everything was so fancy, and the view of London from our window was great. My sister and I sat on the huge Emperor bed to relax. 5 minutes on, Mummy rushed in. “Girls, get ready! You are meeting Prince Harry in 30 minutes!” As you can probably imagine, there was a mad rush of sparkly clothes, high-heeled shoes and make-up, as Melissa and I prepared ourselves in record time.

Downstairs, we joined the rest of the winners (all such amazing and inspirational children) and were we were put into small groups, provided with drinks and nuts, and waited for the guest of honour to arrive. Minutes went by. “Where is he?” I asked. “Right there” Melissa replied, gesturing towards the door. There he was, His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Great Britain was standing less that 4 metres away. Suddenly butterflies began to flutter in my stomach, and my heart sped up so slightly. I was going to meet and speak to one of the most important men in the world. Wow.

Harry sat (occasionally on the floor) and spoke to every one of us. He took time to learn our names, and our stories, and did not once speak of himself, but was only interested in what we were saying. He began to speak to the beautiful little girl next to me, I looked up at Melissa, “It’s our turn next Milly!” she nodded enthusiastically and turned our attention back to Harry, (I don’t think that there was one person in the room who wasn’t looking at Harry.)

Prince Harry said goodbye to the family next to us, turned on his heel and began to walk to us. Close up, he looked even better than he does on TV. “Hello” he said. Melissa and I introduced ourselves prior to a hearty handshake, and he asked me about my story. I told him the quick version, (still around 6 minutes) and we chatted about many things. I told him that at one point, a doctor told me that I would never walk again, and of course, that I had defied him. He told me that many people in the army, who have suffered serious injuries, are told the same, but sometimes, like me, they prove the doctors wrong. He then told me that doctors often say this to patients to motivate them and encourage them to try and achieve the (supposed) impossible.

Prince Harry was so lovely. Although I expected him to be different, he wasn’t. If you don’t know who he was, his mannerisms and the way he speaks give nothing away and he is interested in others. I can genuinely say that Prince Harry, as important as he may be, seems to be a great, and humble lad.

When he had finished speaking to everyone, he was whisked away by “his people” and Melissa and I, along with all the winners, proceeded to join Mummy and Daddy, Grainne and Emma (the two lovely ladies who nominated me) in the main reception. After a chat and a drink, we were led into the huge hall where the award ceremony was going to be held. There were around 40 round tables in front of a large stage that was lit up. The hall was beautifully decorated with WellChild banners and two magnificent chandeliers hung from the ceiling. We took out place on our table, at which point I was excited to see my place name card next to Harry’s.  I had been informed days before that Harry was going to be sitting on our table, but something about seeing our place names really made it real. Yes.. Really… Prince Harry was going to be sitting next to me.

Every winner was accompanied by a celebrity on their table, such as Pixie Lott, Alexandra Burke, Duncan Bannatyne, James and Oliver Phelps (The brothers who play the Weasley twins in Harry Potter – they also presented me with my award), Gabby Roslin, Russell Howard and many others. After a short time of chatting and getting to know the people on our table, Prince Harry came in and sat next to me (YES ME). He introduced himself to my parents and said hello to Melissa and I for the second time in the evening and everybody suddenly quietened down. After two wonderful speeches from the WellChild director and Chief Executive of GSK (the sponsors), the presenter, Vernon Kay  entered the stage and began the ceremony.

We watched intently at the amazing and inspiration children and health care professionals receive their awards. At some points, there wouldn’t  have been a dry eye in the house. I felt extremely privileged to be in the company of so many, wonderful, courageous and beautiful people. Each and every one of the children had a a tough and moving story, but each and every one of them had overcome extreme hurdles in life but they were all still smiling. Wow. What AMAZING people!

Finally it was my turn and my 3 minute video played. As I prepared to go on stage, my stomach began to turn. Every single person in the room was looking at me. As soon as I got on stage I was settled. To see about 600 smiling faces looking up at you is a truly amazing and humbling experience. I was handed my award and after a quick photo with the male winner in my category and James and Oliver Phelps, I returned to my proud, and crying (hopefully with happiness) family.

When all of the awards had been presented, Price Harry came to the stage, along with all of the award winning children and teenagers and we all posed for a photo. He then had to leave, but his seat at our table was then taken by Vernon Kay, a lovely, warm and hilarious man who entertained us throughout the rest of the night. Dinner wad served and later, Pixie Lott performed on stage. The evening was brilliant and I enjoyed it immensely –  I can honestly say that the night was truly, truly remarkable. Well done WellChild!

Here are some pictures of the wonderful evening:

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Aren’t we pretty?

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Prince Harry, some of the amazing winners and I.

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All of the winners with Prince Harry!

As you may have noticed, WellChild is written in purple. Please click on it a go an discover this incredible charity and the amazing things that they do. Also, if you find the kindness in your hearts, do donate. Every little helps.

Such a wonderful evening is hard to beat, but the next day was also very exciting. I woke up bright and early, and went to Oxford Street. Whilst walking along, a man, who had seen me on the news the previous day, stopped us and offered £20 for my charity fund. Elated and completely surprised, we excepted with great gratitude. I doubt he knew, but to the lovely man, if you happen to read this, I want you to know, you truly made my day and your kindness and generosity was greatly appreciated – thank you!

After a while we returned to the hotel and, with the lovely Press Officer from WellChild, travelled from the hotelm, by taxi, to ITV and ITN studios. I went straight into make-up, where a lovely women perfected my lipstick and applied some eye liner, and I wad then taken with my Mum (my Dad was waiting in a green room, ready to watch me) to the where they film the news. They miked me up and after a few rehearsals, they began filming the news… LIVE. Charlene White read the headlines, and then, it was my turn to be interviewed about the WellChild Awards. Nervous probably couldn’t describe how I was feeling prior to the interview. It was live, and if I said something stupid, everyone was going to hear, and I mean everyone, the whole country. When the production assistant began counting down from 10, I started to panic slightly. She then proceeded to grab my hand and pull me to the chair next to Charlene. The whole studio is completely green, believe it or not. Everything behind the presenter is computer generated. Charlene asked me some questions and I showed of my award and it was all over in 3 minutes.

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All done up in the makeup studio!

Finally, all of the excitement was over. My family retreated home for a much deserved rest…..

UNTIL THE NEXT TIME….. (Blog post to come shortly….)

I love you all,

Cecilia-Joy xxx

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