Well what a surreal experience I had last week. On Thursday 22nd November I attended a reception at 10 Downing Street.
The whole thing came about a couple of weeks previous when I received an invitation via email. The first line said ‘The Prime Minister requests the pleasure of the company of Mrs Hannah Gotts at a Reception to celebrate civil society in Berkshire’. My first thought was that it was spam so I therefore laughed it off and ignored it. It wasn’t until a later date when speaking to someone at NRAS and telling then about my odd email that they confirmed it was infact a real invitation. As you can imagine I was rather shocked but absolutely delighted to think that I had been invited to such an event and retrieved the message as soon as I was able to. Luckily I had the date free and managed to arrange childcare and some reasonably priced train tickets. Hubby decided he would come along and keep me company on the train as he didn’t like the idea of me travelling back on my own late at night (I know bless him).
So last Thursday we set off from Norwich station to London Liverpool Street, First Class (only because it was £2pp more) which I have to say was a wonderful experience, and it was lovely for once to just sit down with a coffee and a film on the ipad and relax for a whole two hours.
The time went incredibly quick and before I knew it, it was time to make my way to No. 10. Now at this point I can say the nerves had started to kick in and the realisation of heading in there on my own, little did I know that one of the best things of that evening was about to happen, and that was meeting a lovely young woman, Rachael.
Rachael was 22 and just finished university when she was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and she could relate wholeheartedly to Imogen’s pain and our journey as a family coming to terms with the disease of JIA. I feel very blessed to have been introduced to such an inspirational, kind and positive person who honestly felt like a kindred spirit I had known for years. We enjoyed the whole adventure together from entering those gates, being security searched, and entering and exiting that iconic black door. Inside number 10 we met other charity volunteers for NRAS and other charities and it really was a moment I will remember forever. I must note that it was great to also meet in person Clare Jacklin and Matthew Bezzant from NRAS and again see Ailsa Bosworth (CEO at NRAS) who we met earlier this year when visiting their offices in Maidenhead.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Theresa May that afternoon, as you can appreciate she had an awful lot on her plate with the Brexit negotiations. However her Husband Philip delivered a wonderful speech on her behalf and made his way around the room throughout the event.
Obviously we visited the Ladies room (because we will probably never again spend a penny in No. 10) and left……. well after a few selfie opportunities!!! Darren was waiting at the gate, bless him and apparently I was late leaving and he had been there in the freezing cold for nearly an hour….. opps!!! you know what us Woman are like when we get talking. With a little bit of time to kill before making our way to the train station, we grabbed a bite to eat and had a look around Leister Square, then set upon our journey home.
Thank you to NRAS and Number 10 Downing Street for having me as one of the guests at such a special event, recognising such amazing work of many different people.