M&IT Awards 2020: glamour, prize winners and dolphin heckling
And so the M&IT Awards 2020 is done and dusted. The champagne has been quaffed, everyone talked themselves hoarse, greeted old friends and made new acquaintances with gusto.
Plenty of memories to cherish. For starters, getting in to the venue, Evolution Battersea. I duly arrived at 5.15 pm, as ordered, to be in time for the dress rehearsals. One problem: the security guards said to me: “We’re not letting guests in yet.” I meekly replied: “But I’m the editor of M&IT and presenting an award.” This, unfortunately did not have the ‘open sesame’ effect.
Looking around, I spied the executive director of a well-known London venue. I sneaked in on his coat tails. Clearly, he had more kudos than I did.
Watching the preparation for large awards dinners is fascinating. People talking rapidly into headsets; a quiet, concerted focus which hides panic. Or perhaps that’s just me.
We had a special treat to get us in the mood for the evening as the cast members of We Will Rock You took to the stage. This multi-million pound show (no expense spared at M&IT towers) was guaranteed to blow your mind – as the website blurb promised. Indeed it did. Some of those high notes were truly earthshattering, and are still reverberating around my eardrums. The lead singer was magnificent, not stumbling once on stage, despite wearing sunglasses. Mind you, he did remind me of Martin Roberts, the guy who fronts TV show Homes Under the Hammer. Useless fact of the day – Martin used to be a travel journalist.
Keen to capture the evening, I insisted on an editorial team photo. We duly waited in line to take a picture in front of The Wall of Logos, only to be gazumped by host of the evening Gethin Jones, who smiled sweetly and said could he push in front of us. How could we say no to the Welsh charmer?
You might think taking a photo was a simple task. Think again. I blame Paul Harvey, deputy editor of M&IT for being so tall. In fact, his second job is a walk-on part in the Harry Potter films as Hagrid’s younger brother. If you don’t believe me, look at the picture above. Holly, our intrepid reporter and myself look like little elves beside him.
For another shot, I made him kneel in front of me. I felt that was the true way to show respect for one’s editor.
Speaking of Holly, she insisted on re-taking the picture several times before she was happy. Such a perfectionist. For myself, I thought I looked like a waiter. In fact, several people did wave me down and ask when dessert was coming.
Another highlight was watching Martin Lewis win M&IT Personality of the Year Award. It would have been a bit churlish not to have chosen Martin, as he set up the M&IT Awards and is an unforgettable character in the industry. I have to say this as he hired me. No silver crossed my palm, honest.
Amidst all the evening’s frivolity was a serious note. The industry is well known for its charitable endeavours. At the M&IT awards dinner we heard from Letty McMaster of Street Children Iringa, who looks after children who are forced to sleep on the streets. Because of Meeting Needs, Letty was able to buy a safe house for children in order to feed them and offer some education. “None of this would be possible without Meeting Needs,” she said.
My personal favourite moment of the evening was the French comedian being interrupted by ear-piercing feedback from the speakers. “That’s the first time I’ve been heckled by a dolphin,” he said, taking a healthy slurp of red wine to steady his nerves from the surreal aquatic mammalian interruption.