17 May 2013

Autism's Got Talent

In recent months I have had the pleasure of meeting Anna Kennedy on twitter (@AnnaKennedy1).  Anna Kennedy is a wonderful woman who has dedicated a great amount of her time to advocating for those with autism through various ventures conducted by her charity Anna Kennedy Online.  She has been recognised with countless awards and honours including an OBE.  Having already shared my story with her in support of her anti-bullying campaing 'Give Us A Break', I was proud to think that she thought of me as inspirational through the things I have achieved and how I have turned my life around from what it once was.

Then a couple of weeks ago Anna got in contact with me to ask if I would be able to speak at the show Autism's Got Talent that Anna Kennedy Online were organising with help from Pineapple Performing Arts School.  Autism's Got Talent is a show featuring performers who are on the autistic spectrum.  I knew straight away that this was something I couldn't turn down.  This celebration of the talents of those who had an autistic spectrum condition was something that I really believe in and I always have a lot to say so I said yes!

The show was to be held on the 11th May at the Mermaid Theatre in London with an estimated audience between 400-600 people.  However first there was a matter of a meet and greet at Pineapple Dance Studios on the Friday.  Myself and my husband travelled down to London on Friday afternoon, negotiating the London Underground was not a prospect I relished and I know full well that without my husband's help I would have ended up well and truly lost!  On the way down to London he said "I think I would really enjoy going to London if I were going on my own", so I asked him why he wouldn't enjoy it so much going with me to which he replied "because you're a pain in the arse"....that just about sums up me and travelling!!

Myself and Anna Kennedy
Upon arrival we met the wonderful Austin and Lisa from the AKO team, who between the two of them got us to Pineapple Dance Studios in rush hour.  Here we met Anna Kennedy and some of the performers including one young man who had come all the way from Canada for the event! 

The next day we had to go to the Mermaid Theatre where the teams from AKO and Pineapple worked relentlessly to ensure the whole show would run smoothly that evening.  Just before doors opened and the big event began we all had our photos taken on the red carpet with Anna Kennedy (see above).  I felt slightly nervous about my planned talk, I had struggled to fit everything I wanted to say into it but I adopted my fighting mentality and relied on the belief and conviction I had for what I had planned to say.  I had the privilege to share a dressing room with two extremely talented singers Madelaine Hardy and Marie Gorton and we all helped keep each other calm and reassured.

For the first part of the show and following my contribution I sat in the auditorium as a member of the audience and was treated to some magnificent individual and group performances.  There was something for everyone over the evening with a rock band, dance groups, singers, raps and even a panto scene.  I enjoyed every single performance with everyone stepping onto the stage showing themselves to be a true star of the show.  It was so inspiring to watch everyone demonstrate their talents and through doing so give encouragement to other people to be who they are and believe in the things they can do.

And as for my talk...well I think this went well.  It was the first time I had spoken at something that big and I am relatively new to public speaking.  I have received some incredible feedback which I am extremely pleased about and more than anything hope that I might have helped to inspire others on the autistic spectrum...or not on the autistic spectrum to never give up and follow their dreams just as I have done to become who I am today.

I would like to thank all involved in the production of this wonderful show, your efforts were very much appreciated!  All in all I had a wonderful time and met some great people.

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