How many people in our lives really deserve an award?
Last night I was lucky enough to be at the table of my wonderful friend Chris Rugg of wurzelmeone fame as he celebrated his nomination in the category ‘Outstanding Volunteer 2010’ at the Care Focus Awards.
No small event this. 300 people seated around tables at a gala dinner, hosted by the presenter of the BBC News programme Points West, Chris Vacher and attended by our local Lib Dem MP, Jeremy Browne who is now a minister in the Foreign Office. It was ‘Black tie’ and everyone was dressed up in long frocks and dickie bows and it truly had a touch of the BAFTAs or Booker Prize about it. Chris was there with his friend Ruth and his brother and sister-in-law to represent Mind in Taunton & West Somerset where he works as a volunteer on the Advocacy in Mind Project, helping people to be heard where they have previously felt ignored. The lovely Bethan who manages the project was also there with her partner Ali and it was wonderful to spend the time with people I have missed so much since I left Mind two months ago. Bethan and I had nominated Chris for the Award for his absolute dedication and passion for his role supporting people experiencing mental distress; putting to one side his own significant health issues to work to raise awareness and break down the stigma that can be attached to mental health. He was also (and still is) a great support to me and to others as we struggled in a stressful work environment and gave me the courage to take up my pen and try writing as a living.
When the nominations were read out, the pictures shown on screen and the envelope opened we sat on the edge of our seats. ‘And the winner is… Chris Rugg!!’ The whoops that went up from our table set the tone for the rest of the night’s announcements. We were overjoyed for Chris, perhaps the most modest and humble of men who had not for a moment sought the limelight but who deserves this award like no other person I have ever met. So many people came up to congratulate him, many from other local organisations and including Jeremy Browne with whom he had his photo taken. Chris was so proud to be such an ambassador for Mind in Taunton & West Somerset.
I have woken up this morning with something of a headache. I cannot imagine where it came from (hrrrrm), but I suspect Ali had filled my wine glass up more than once. As I struggle to complete an article with a deadline of Monday I keep thinking back to the celebrations of last night and it occurred to me that Chris is one of those people who can truly be called ‘good’. I don’t mean in the slightly schmaltzy, even sneering way people may use the term but in a sense that doesn’t require perfection, abstinence or evangelizing. It just ‘is’. Above all, Chris has integrity and stands up for what he feels to be right and I have relied on his wisdom on many occasions.
It was a fabulous evening, much alcohol was imbibed resulting in some distinctly dodgy, rather than dirty, dancing and Chris went home with a beautiful trophy that deserves real prominence in the Mind offices. Well done mate, you are the funniest, kindest, wisest man I know. Thank you!