This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Off we set to Katya’s showroom in Highgate. We had a dress in mind as we had previously seen Nikki Garnett of MidLifeChic wearing Bombshell’s 10th anniversary dress and she had looked incredible. To be fair we knew that Nikki would look fab in anything however Grace and I would be more of a challenge for Katya. In addition Grace is not a dress-lover.
We need not have worried as we literally slipped on two of the Bombshell 10th Anniversary dresses in midnight blue and we felt a million dollars. Not only are they the most flattering dresses in the world they are so comfortable to wear. Grace chose the blue and I decided on a rose gold. The fabric is of a very high quality so you do not shed sequins as you go. So that answered our dress dilemma for 17th October.
Our next problem was the acceptance speech. Neither of us have any background in public speaking and the two minute limit seemed like half a lifetime. We decided on a few sentences from each of us. We felt it was best not to try to learn it until the day as retaining anything for any length of time is challenging!
The day dawned and on waking up my dogs, I discovered the older one – Barney – could not stand and was shaking in his bed. So I had an emergency trip to the vet, texting Grace as I went. Grace came back with advice for my vet visit, together with the news that her AGA had gone out and Paddington station was closed. The latter meant Husband and I would have to drive in. No doubt the motorways would be even more crowded than usual.
The vet diagnosed spine cancer and told us the shaking was due to incredible pain. She inserted a Methadone drip and I called my daughters as Barney had been a gift to them over 11 years ago. No trains, so their journey home was an expensive nightmare. We gave Barney a wonderful last morning with all of us around him including our other dog, Kobi. The vet came to our house to put him to sleep. So with a sobbing family and a confused younger dog, we bade Barney a farewell.
Husband and I jumped into our car to get to London. Luckily I had booked a professional make-up artist as concealer was not going to do it for my very red eyes (4 hours of sobbing over our dog). Grace and her OH were having a tortuously congested drive into London and running late. As soon as she arrived, there was a quick make-up for us both, a shoosh of our hair and we slid into our Bombshell dresses. The transformation was complete. The nerves then set in big time.
We didn’t need to worry. The moment we set foot in Claridge’s ballroom we were surrounded by friends and familiar faces. Nayna McIntosh from Hope Fashion, Jayne Kethro from T London Fragrances, Nikki Garnett of MidLifeChic and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever to name a few. It was absolutely fantastic to be part of an event that was all about celebrating older women.
Some of the prizewinners made us cry when we heard their stories from awards host Jo Whiley, the Radio 2 presenter. Lesley Knight, the mother who’s funded 21 NHS helipads in memory of her son, Thomas was just such a one. She won the Community Hero award. Her story was of losing her son, aged 11 years, in a car accident. Tom was flown by air ambulance to a nearby hospital but with no helipad, the helicopter had to land on the street thus delaying getting him to the care of the hospital emergency team. Lesley has turned her grief into something more positive and continues to raise money for this very worthy cause.
Another prizewinner was Carrie Herbert, MBE, who is the founder of ‘intensive care’ schools for bullied children. Her Red Balloon Learner charity offers full-time education in a therapeutic setting. The charity has helped more than 700 children.
These are just two of the 10 winners. Each is a woman over 50 who has re-invented herself. Everyone has worked extremely hard – whether for a charity or starting a new business. However they all had one thing in common – their positivity. No-one mentioned that taboo subject ‘ageing’ because all of us there were ignoring any prejudices about our age and showing that we are a force to be reckoned with. We can offer so much to the world even though we are over 50.
It certainly gave Grace and I a definite boost. It is so heartwarming to know that people recognised our worth and appreciated our hard work. We love what we do and will continue to keep sharing stories of inspirational women. In so doing we hope to inspire lots more women over 50 to be the best they can be.
Watch our latest video to find out why we love our Bombshell evening gowns so much:
All pictures by James Wicks/Woman & Home (except for one of Grace, Katya & Annabel in Bombshell showroom).