25 years ago | River Thames, London, UK | c.29th April 1998
In April 1998, we are invited to attend the Your Horse magazine industry awards in London. In their fourth year, they were to be presented once again aboard a pleasure cruiser which set off from the Royal Festival Pier, sailing down the Thames almost to the tidal barrier and then back. It was a full day out, and quite ‘liquid’ in more ways than one…
In addition, we’d been nominated for an award: ‘Best Mail Order Company’, with the winner voted for by the readership With more readers than any other magazine in the UK (even the more widely-known Horse & Hound), it was quite an accolade. It seemed to be as close as it was possible to get to an ‘Oscar’ ceremony for such a relatively small industry.
I took the train down to Euston and then the tube to Waterloo. Not being familiar with this part of London, ‘south of the river’, and before the advent of the mobile internet, I expected to need to take a taxi from there. When I got to the front of the taxi queue, I was surprised when the cabbie claimed not to know where The Festival Pier was. Even an out-of-towner from the North knows that every taxi driver has to do ‘The Knowledge’. It made no sense.
It started to make a lot more sense a couple of minutes later when I spotted a sign nearby, advising that the Royal Festival Hall was only a two-minute walk away. So, obviously, was the pier and clearly, the cabbie hadn’t waited for so long in that taxi rank just to get a thirty-second fare.
To tell you the truth, I wish I could remember as much detail about the day itself. The sun shone brightly as we wound our way downstream, showing London’s famous sights, as it often tends to do, in their most flattering light. I think we were already on the hors d’oeuvres as we sailed beneath Tower Bridge. The main course arrived at around the same time as building site of the much-anticipated Millennium Dome. After dessert and drinks, we arrived at the Thames Barrier, where the boat turned around and our hosts started to announce the awards.
As the title to this post suggests, we won the award in our category and I stepped forward to accept the framed certificate and pose for a picture. It’s important here not to get too carried away: winning at one’s industry awards is hardly comparable to collecting an ‘Oscar’ in front of the world’s media but I have to say, it’s a whole lot closer than not winning one. It was still a genuinely thrilling experience and a lovely way to gain a bit of positive PR for months thereafter. Nowadays, the social media value can make the value of such occasions exponentially higher.
Anyway, I’m pleased to have had that experience. It was a lovely day, with good food and good company and it involved a highlight to my career that not everyone can say they have had. That we went on to win this award for a number of years made it even more special.
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