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Soldiering On Awards: Swapping an Awards Dinner for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Like millions up and down the country, my plans on Friday night weren’t necessarily what I’d expected. I was supposed to be attending the Soldiering On Awards in London, which celebrate the successes and achievements of people from the Armed Forces community. I love being a veteran, and have always been proud to have been part of such a talented group of people. I was extremely honoured when Toddle was nominated for the Business Start Up Award.

But, life is very different for all us of us at the moment, and rather than moping about missing the awards, I still wanted to make the day to feel special and enjoy spending some time with my family.

So we started the day with a treat for breakfast — pancakes! The boys giggled at my attempts to shape them into a bear (always on brand), with chopped up fruit for eyes, nose and mouth. It may not have been a work of art, but they tasted great and the boys loved them.

With tummies full of pancakes, we headed off for a short walk. My favourite part of each day since we’ve been in lockdown has been taking the boys out for our daily exercise. Being able to spend some time in the fresh air and get some exercise has really helped lift our spirits and let the children run off some excess energy. Today we made our stroll into a nature walk. We listened out for all the noises we could hear like the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the wind. The boys even collected a few sticks and pebbles along the way. When we got home the boys added their new sticks to our bug hotel. Lucky bugs! 

We ate our lunch in the garden and pretended we were having a picnic. The boys soon decided it would be better if it was a teddy bears’ picnic and brought down all their cuddly toys. It was quite a squeeze on the rug! After lunch we enjoyed drawing and colouring together. We have quite a collection of rainbow pictures in our windows now to thank all our amazing NHS staff and keyworkers who are keeping the country going. The boys enjoyed using all the colours and I have also found it quite therapeutic to be creative and take time to switch off from everything. 

On the evening, I dressed up to make a toast to the award.. I quite enjoyed being glam — even if only for five minutes! After a glass of bubbles, I got in my more standard evening attire of a dressing gown! I snuggled up with my husband and our boys and we read their favourite bedtime stories. Despite my day being very different to how I had originally planned it, I still had a lovely day and was grateful to be with my family.

I am really looking forward to being able to celebrate with my fellow nominees at the rearranged Soldiering On Awards ceremony on 2nd October. But for now, I contented myself with raising a glass and giving a #SOASalute (from the comfort of my sofa) to all the finalists, ambassadors and supporters!

Stay safe, everybody.