It’s hard to sit and comprehend how much my life has changed during year 3 of Life at No.27. It’s baffling for me personally, let alone trying to explain it to you or anyone else.
In case you didn’t know, on Saturday, 27th October, Life at No.27 turned 3 years old.
Happy Birthday to me and YOU!
A very special date for me as this was also the day that plot No.27 became mine. It’s only recently that I have really acknowledged the impact of the number itself….27. The age I was when I started this journey, the number of the plot and also the date my journey began – that can’t all be coincidence.
I’m conscious that I shared a lot of my feelings about what Life at No.27 and the plot means to me (everything!) in my Life at No.27 turns TWO blog last year, so don’t want to repeat myself…purely for your own sanity. It certainly won’t be anywhere near as emotional if I do that too. If you need a good cry or kick up the bum then maybe give it a read. But I do want to take this opportunity to look back over the year – what has happened, changed and grown.
The one time every year that I reflect, blow my own trumpet and be proud of myself…
I read over last year’s blog before writing this and it was only then it really sunk in how much has happened in my life within the year. My life is so busy and fast paced that everything just blurs and events that happened only weeks ago can seem like months ago. Capturing it all on here and in my diary definitely helps.
So where to start…let’s look at off the actual plot, as I think that’s where the biggest changes have been and where dreams have been realised….
The year everything got real is the best way I can describe it.
The Life at No.27 year (Oct – Oct) began with launching my #MyRealView campaign in November 2017, which has received a fantastic response, so thank you. Keep your photos coming in across social and don’t forget the hashtag so I can find them and share across my accounts too. If you have recently joined me, then check out what #MyRealView is all about here, then get involved. In a nutshell it’s about removing the need for perfect shots, weed-free photos and the intense pressures that apps like Instagram can put on us – supporting each other as a community.
Shortly after launching the campaign, I was announced as a Finalist for the Alan Titchmarsh New Talent of the Year Award at the Garden Media Guild Awards – a truly wonderful moment that I had worked incredibly hard to reach. It wasn’t the win but it felt brilliant!
The New Year arrived and with this of course came my annual giant giveaway – thank you to all of you who entered! It’s time to go even bigger in 2019 so keep your eyes peeled…
January and February saw the windowsills begin to fill with potatoes chitting away in egg cartons, and me attending the annual Garden Press Event. The place where I go to find out about all the latest gardening goodies coming to the market then report back to you. It’s always a great day out with cake guaranteed.
Sowing seeds galore, visiting Thrive in Reading, Easter competitions, attending the brand new Ascot Spring Flower Show, visiting no dig experts Charles Dowding and Steph Hafferty, going to RHS Chelsea and speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live at BBC HQ filled the next few months.
All leading up to the big 2018 moment and giant dream come true…BBC Gardeners’ World Live! Speaking on stage all four days, sharing my story and inspiring so many people. I tried to put in to words here, just after the show how it went, but it’s still difficult in all honesty. A giant whirlwind of hard work to make it the dream I had envisioned – from crying my eyes out and dancing at the same time when the offer came in, to planning, prepping, arranging and packing goodie bags, creating a whole social media campaign, meeting everyone, crying more, laughing, running across the venue, hiding back stage with the big stars, trying to keep a sore throat at bay and definitely a lack of sleep.
People said to me it would never happen…but it did! The moment I stepped on stage and said those words in my first talk was totally weird and incredibly special. The organisers know how immensely grateful I was and still am for the opportunity to try help thousands of people – I don’t think anyone could want it more so and now I can only really hope I’m back next year to bring a bigger and better talk for you all. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!
When I thought it couldn’t get any better, a few weeks later….my other big dream became true.
Becoming an official Ambassador the national gardening charity, Thrive.
You will know that I have always championed and shouted about Thrive since the day I found out about them – they are incredible and work magic every day. A dream one day I will realise myself.
So when they emailed, then called, I think they knew I was only going to have one answer…YES! I did scream it too, then cried hysterically and rang my closest friends as soon as I hanged up the phone. I have since gone on to champion them every day and was honoured to be a judge at the Trunkwell Flower Show. These moments I cherish deeply and anyone in the industry that is luckily enough to become an Ambassador or step on stage to 20 people or 1000’s of people should never take it for granted or see it as a job. It’s a dream come true for me…so as politely as possible…if it’s just a job or extra income for you…please step to one side and send them my details – hahaha.
Can I take a moment….this is NUTS!!!!
It didn’t stop there either…..
Next came the biggest and UK’s most valuable garden trade show back at Birmingham NEC in September; Glee Birmingham. Here I was asked to speak for two days to all the industry leaders. Every brand you can think of was there, showing off their new ranges to garden centres and nurseries in the hope of big, big sales.
These talks felt totally different to BBC Gardeners’ World Live but still brought an over whelming response of support with many stories and struggles shared. Thank you to every stand and visitor to my talks for giving me your time when you probably just wanted to be selling. Hopefully though everyone learnt a few tips and lessons that they will take forward in to next year.
Oxford Mail and Waitrose Weekend both very kindly featured me within their newspapers – yes I ran in to my local shop and bought numberous copies for no reason other than utter pride on both occasions.
BBC Online then popped round like they do, to produce a short film on me then broadcast in on BBC ONE TV at primetime – 6pm! That was utter madness, sat right in front of the TV watching myself. You can still watch the film here.
Lastly, the year came to a close in terms of events with the HTA Marketing Forum 2018 a few weeks ago, an annual event ran by the Horticultural Trades Association.
A totally different event again but aimed at industry on a much smaller and personal scale – I loved it! The team of organisers were fantastic as well – so thank you!
I think that shot of me above sums my year up….happier as person, safe, strong, confident, passionate and more aware of my own self.
What a year as I said…that doesn’t even cover the fun on the plot, work life and my own personal rollercoaster life that I mostly keep tucked away preciously behind the scenes.
I have had people in the past year say to me ‘how have you managed to achieve what you have?’ and ‘you must of clearly known big people in the industry when you started’. I won’t lie…this hurts really deep even though I know I should take it as a compliment really, especially when they don’t know everything about my life. To clarify though…Did I know anyone in the industry 3 years ago…..NO. How I have managed to achieve what I have? My friends are probably better qualified to answer this as they have been there and seen it…but I would say…with copious amounts of tears, hugs and support, a dash of luck, being generally lovely (I’m biased I know), an intense passion, determination, lack of sleep, being slightly bonkers and a ultimate need personally to help people. To try do everything I can to ensure that nobody struggles alone with no sight of support, comfort and solution.
You can tell me that I will never be able to help everyone and I know that unfortunately, but I will keep doing what I can, as often as I can and fighting for my dream in the hope I can get as close to everyone as possible.
Anyway….and breathe…I will cover on the plot activity in another blog soon so you don’t give up reading this now as it becomes too long. I’m thinking of touching on my personal life in a video very soon as I celebrate another monumental moment personally, but shall see how I feel as it’s not emotionally easy but I want it captured.
Year 3 has been mind blowingly (I know that’s not an actual word but who cares) brilliant and full of dreams becoming realised, but also lots of meetings and planning for bigger and bolder dreams too. More talks are already in the diary for next year covering big shows and community groups (email me if you are looking for passionate speakers), but the big dream and end goal is still to come….in 2019! So not too long….no pressure….
The Life at No.27 Non Profit Social Enterprise – designed to help, inspire and change lives through growing your own.
A range of early intervention programmes to support those all of ages with mental health illness or struggling with confidence, loneliness or isolation.
Ultimately…a therapy option I never had a 21 and truly believe would have helped me.
All the details will be coming out next year as it comes to life but for now I will continue behind the scenes requesting land, funding, support and guidance.
I want to wrap my piece up in the only way I know how, and in the most important way too – by saying THANK YOU!!
To you reading this – for taking the time to listen, subscribing to my new monthly newsletter and your support. Your comments on these blogs as well as on social mean a tremendous amount and without you none of the above would have been realised.
To all the agencies, magazine outlets, TV broadcasters, brands, retailers, show organisers, schools, community groups and fellow gardening ambassadors who have supported me in some way whether it’s through a simple retweet, booking me for a talk, sending me a treat in the post or giving me a hug in person.
You are all blooming lovely!
As I said last year, with or without realising you have enabled me to grow as person and as platform creating change. You have picked me up off floor in despair at times and bounced me back up to jumping in the air. Here’s to the next year of many more to come and making change together…
Love you all xx
If you have made it this far, then you must care…so thank you again!! Please comment if you did read this to the end.
I’m also going to be cheeky and ask you to think about helping further…just because you are lovely or as a birthday gift to Life at No.27 & I.
In my recent talks and email discussions I have shared that big sponsorships and government funding is needed unfortunately to enable the non profit dream to grow. Numerous people, brands and nurseries have suggested I set up a GoFundMe page so that everyone including those with limited funds can contribute in some way to realising the big dream. After all it is my big dream but it’s one that will help people up and down the country.
So I have taken the advice, as awkward as it makes me feel, and set up a page. If you would like to take a look then head this way and follow the link…