As I write from Dublin, reunited with my cat and sofa, I find myself incredulous at this weekend’s brilliant trip to London. My friend and fellow blogger Graeme has already written a lovely blog about our adventure at the UK Blog Awards 2016 on the night of Friday 29 April, and to it, I would like to add a few words.
As I strolled around sunny Camden town on the afternoon of the ceremony, I contemplated the night ahead, our immense achievement, and how proud I was to be representing the blog that means so much to us all.
After 2,000 entries and tens of thousands of votes, we had made it to the final, and I was very much looking forward to sharing the night with Graeme and intrigued as to what the evening would hold.
As I have said here and elsewhere, I very much felt we had already won, with our name to appear in lights twice as one of ten blogs in both the Arts & Culture and Most Innovative categories. I consider this to be an immense achievement, and as Graeme and I met in the stunning Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, and joined the other finalists in our finery, the momentousness of our achievement became even more apparent.
The bash was glitzy and glamorous, and Graeme and I marvelled at our surrounds while having a lovely catch-up as we enjoyed florally adorned canapés and prosecco. Both delighted to be there together, we spoke of how proud we were, the responsibility we felt in representing our editor Glenda, our fellow bloggers, those who voted for us (thank you!) and the blog itself, and, of course, had a delicious natter about Corrie.
We took deep breaths as the time came to take our seats, and while I usually baulk at anyone tapping away at their phone while I’m trying to enjoy an event, it was the done thing here, and so I was delighted to be able to keep our bloggers and readers up to date as the event progressed.
With its origins in individual diary-style posts, and a creative endeavour at heart, I have become increasingly aware of the commercial side of blogging, and the extent to which individuals and companies are embracing it as a vehicle to capitalise on and further their successes, sell products and strengthen their corporate identities. Each category was split into individual and company nominees with an award for each, and as I leafed through the programme, I pondered where we fitted among them. There was nobody similar to us, that’s for sure, and I felt I could identify more with the clear excitement of the individual winners which seemed fitting considering our own position. We had been placed in the company category where we didn’t really belong, on account of the fact that there are more than six of us writing for the blog, even though we are simply a proud group of passionate volunteers. I also thought about the first question I was asked on arrival: ‘Are you a blogger or a brand?’
This disarmed me slightly, and I hesitated. Victoria Beckham I’m not, so I went for blogger, which is after all what I am. It wasn’t until afterwards I realised I was probably supposed to choose ‘brand’, because our blog had to be entered as a company. It made no difference, as everyone mingled together, but my confused reaction to this question and my answer were perhaps symbolic of our unique position.
We write this blog because we love Coronation Street, interacting with other fans, and providing an alternative space for people to write about, ponder, consume, and talk about the programme. We don’t make money from it, and are not trying to attract and retain readers for that purpose. We are, and always will be, a blog written by fans for fans.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with blogging for commercial purposes. However, I wonder if another category might make for a positive addition to the programme; if not that of fan site, then perhaps non-profit. This would mean the UK Blog Awards could continue to highlight and celebrate the diverse voices and creativity which lies at the heart of blogging while recognising bigger team efforts without a commercial imperative.
Graeme and I had a brilliant time at the awards, and after much fun and laughter, our carriages finally threatened to become pumpkins as Big Ben tolled. We said our farewells, for now, and hoped to see each other again soon.
Two messages I took from the speakers on the night were the importance of focusing on relationships, and how, despite blogging being a solitary pursuit, the words we weave alone in our bedrooms can touch others, and Friday night was proof of that.
In addition to the wonderful encouragement and support I received from family and friends, I was overwhelmed by the good wishes online for Glenda, the blog, Graeme and I on Friday. I have never had so many Twitter notifications as the good luck messages poured in throughout the day and evening. It was so heartening to know that everyone was behind us, and even though we didn’t lift a trophy, I most certainly went to bed a winner that night.
Our wonderful editor Glenda, my fellow bloggers, and all of our readers are kindred spirits who have been brought together by Corrie. But I think Friday night proved that it goes beyond that, as our love of this common interest has seen us form friendships and connections with others, many of whom we have never met. To have such a thing in our lives is an award in itself.
To see a few more photos of our night, take a look at my album here, with more pictures to be added.
This post originally appeared on the Coronation Street Blog.