It was a fun event taking the theme of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant in the centenary year of his birth which seemed very appropriate given the focus of the 2016 Awards on storytelling. A stilt-walking BFG strode around the event, and there were lots of bubbles, not only alcoholic! One room was decorated with life-like looking trees and scenery, and the canapés were smothered in edible flowers continuing the theme. The headline sponsor, Odeon Cinemas, even had a pop-up cinema – with popcorn of course.
There was a real buzz to the event with finalists not only enjoying their own moment of glory with their supporters, but connecting with other bloggers and finding out their stories, in my case ranging from the Cottages and Castles Blog (lettings agency business) to the Living With CMPA Blog (the personal story of a mum with a son with food allergy). This interaction has continued after the event on social media and is an important part of the Awards ethos.
The event was not only fun, but also slick. The host was Kate Russell with whom you may be familiar from the BBC’s technology programme Click. An award winner last year, she was warm, enthusiastic and funny, with a lovely line in off-the-cuff remarks when things didn’t go according to plan, but also super-efficient at keeping the awards presentation ceremony on track. After brief but pertinent welcome speeches from the UK Blog Awards Founder and MD, Gemma Newton, and Andy Edge, Commercial Director and Amy Rountree, Social Media Manager and Strategist, Odeon Cinemas, the awards were presented by category, with two highly commended in each, plus the winner.
The Arts and Culture category was up first so I didn’t have to long to wait. The Great Parchment Book blog didn’t win, but it was great to see it up on the big screen with the other finalists all of whom were made to feel special. As Gemma Newton wrote in the Awards programme: “All of the shortlisted candidates should be hugely proud of what they’ve achieved to reach this final stage … winning a UKBA is not easy.” I was then able to relax and enjoy the rest of the ceremony and celebrate with my neighbour, the author of the Living with CMPA Blog who won her category. The Arts and Culture category was won by the Honest Actors’ Blog. The winner of the headline award for the Best Storyteller was the Royal Mint Blog. Very well done to all the winning blogs.
The Great Parchment Book was the only archive blog in the competition and the only finalist from the heritage sector (although the Royal Mint Blog has a heritage dimension). It would be great next year to see more archive and heritage blogs getting involved in the UK Blog Awards, and making it through to the final. The Great Parchment Book did it, your blog can too! The Arts and Culture category is very wide, perhaps UK Blog Awards could encourage the heritage sector with a separate category, or at least make it Arts, Heritage and Culture?