As you know, I’ve been down in London again this week and I thought you might like to join me at the rather glamorous party I went to. Specsavers invited me to attend the Spectacle Wearer of the Year awards ceremony so that I could learn more about the fundraising they do for the anti-bullying charity Kidscape. Kidscape is an amazing organisation dedicated to helping children and teenagers who are being bullied whilst supporting their parents and teachers too.
Kidscape – preventing bullying
Each year, Specsavers holds the “Spectacle Wearer of The Year” awards specifically to raise funds for Kidscape. It is open to anyone over 16 and for each entry, Specsavers donates £1 to the charity. The money from last year’s event will fund the relaunch of the Parent Advice line.
When I think back to my own teen years, the girls at my school who had the toughest ride were often the ones who wore glasses. So for an optician to align themselves with an anti-bullying charity seems a sensitive choice. Thankfully, we haven’t had any bullying problems with our boys but my nephew was victimised mercilessly at school. Even though my sister and her husband were both teachers (at a different school) and so in theory should have had the skills to stop it, they all went through five years of living hell and the bullying has had a lifelong impact. If there had been a resource such as Kidscape for them to turn to, it could have been very different.
The Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards 2017
So, when Specsavers invited me to join them at the ceremony and asked me to wear my glasses for the evening, I was really happy to help raise awareness. The event was held near Trafalgar Square in London and the venue was stunning. The dress code was ‘cocktail party’ and I dithered over what to wear. In the end I opted for the winter version of the jumpsuit that I wore for the UK Blog Awards in April. As soon as this came into stock I loved it but it seemed crazy to have two jumpsuits that are so similar. However I think this one will earn its keep over Christmas (I had to keep taking my glasses off because they’re reading glasses so it was hard to see distances).
Blue velvet jumpsuit; Boden clutch (past season); M&S gold Mary-Janes (past season)
I met up with Catherine from NotDressedAsLamb beforehand so that we could arrive together.
We had pre-dinner drinks and admired the incredible displays that had been made out of spectacles, even having photos of our irises taken. We then went to our table with the other bloggers who had been invited. Catherine and I were representing the over 40s and I was lucky to be seated next to the very charming David from GreyFoxBlog who was our male counterpart. If we look slightly bemused it’s because (in true midlife style) we were trying to work out how to use the selfie sticks that Specsavers had thoughtfully added to each place setting.
(with David from GreyFoxBlog)
On my other side was Charlie Irons aka Man About Town. We played celebrity bingo as we looked around to see who we could spot. There was some intergenerational confusion as Charlie (27) struggled with the fact that I had never watched Love Island so didn’t recognise any of the contestants that were dotted around the room. I, on the other hand, was more concerned that he had never heard of Twiggy!
(with Charlie Irons, ManAboutTown)
Here she is, just across from us – and you may also recognise her companion (it isn’t a very good shot but I was trying to be discreet)…
…(Louis Walsh if you can’t quite make him out). After dinner, the awards ceremony began, hosted by TV presenter Rylan and former Girls Aloud singer Nadine Coyle.
We heard some very moving stories about the work that Kidscape have been able to do as a result of the money that has been raised by these annual Specsavers events. It includes weekends for children whose self-esteem has reached rock bottom after endless bullying. In an environment away from home that feels safe and unthreatening, they are shown different ways of dealing with bullying and they take part in group activities to rebuild their confidence.
Fourteen thousand people from all over the UK had entered the competition and the categories were divided by age and regions. We cheered each finalist and Prue Leith was awarded the “Services to Specs” trophy. Of course there were lots of jokes about her attending the event on a Tuesday evening when it was ‘Great British Bake Off’ night!
Then it was time for the judges to decide on the overall winner of the Spectacle Wearer of The Year title which came with a £10,000 cash prize. As you can see our table was right in front of the panel so it felt like we were part of the action.
Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards 2017 – The Winner
We were delighted when it was announced that this lovely chap, Alex Miller, was the winner because he had been sitting at our table all evening – along with his proud mum who he had brought along as his guest.
When we were waiting for the results, she was joking that she hoped he would win so that at the age of 27, he might finally be able to leave home. Of course when he did, it dawned on her that she wasn’t sure she really wanted him to move out after all!
As the raffle was drawn, a final calculation was made and it turned out that Specsavers had smashed their original target of £88k and had raised £120,000 from the evening. What a fantastic result.
The after party
So, then it was time for the after party. I managed to have my photo taken with Claire from pop group Steps who must be one of the most naturally beautiful women I’ve ever seen. It was all for my eldest son who used to love Steps when he was a teeny bopper and was duly impressed when I sent him the photo!
Gradually the younger bloggers started dropping away. Catherine and I did the over 40s proud by staying till the end – and then we even went on to the bar. The ‘after after party’ carried on around us as we sat and had a good catch up.
Some thoughts about corporate social responsibility
As I get to know Specsavers better, I am growing to really respect them as a brand, particularly in the way that they handle their corporate social responsibility. In my experience of working in retail marketing departments, sponsorship is often seen as a box to be ticked, with funds cynically being matched to the causes that offer the highest opportunities for brand exposure. It’s good to see Specsavers choosing their charity partners thoughtfully.
In my last post about them, I talked about the fact that they sponsor referees for rugby matches – which immediately captures my heart as the mum of rugby players. In fact I found an action shot from the last match the eldest played before he went off on his internship year, signing the forms with the Specsavers ref (and a hand that is clearly too injured to hold a pen properly).
Once again Specsavers have impressed me with their Kidscape partnership. The funds they raise go to defined projects that clearly make a difference to a lot of lives. When the Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards open again for next year, I will try to post it on here. Just imagine how much money we could raise for Kidscape if we all enter. And how glamorous the ceremony would be if a group of Midlifechicers got through to the final! I can’t tell you how much I love that thought…
I’ll leave you with my official Specsavers shot from the evening taken by pro Instagram photographer Luke K Clarke. As always I find it really nerve racking having to pose for the camera, especially when there is a crowd watching and wondering who you are. Fortunately they managed to catch me when I was looking away so it isn’t too forced.
Next week I’m going to be putting together some capsule wardrobe ideas for autumn. Until then, as always, I wish you a wonderful weekend.