Following my five minutes of local newspaper fame last month as part of The Journal’s NETwitterati supplement, I got all carried away with the recognition and entered the Great North Mum blog into the health category of the UK Blog Awards. These awards were only set up earlier this year, with the ceremony to take place next April, to recognise ‘industry blogging talent’ from all walks of life. With categories as diverse as Arts & Culture, Automotive and Weddings, they really are all-inclusive awards.
Now the public vote is open and I can see who I’m up against in my category. There are cancer patients, mental health experts, fitness gurus – and me, with my opinions about everything from maternity onwards, and occasional heartwarming interludes about my son.
All I ever wanted to do with this blog (since gaining the confidence to write for public consumption for the first time since penning the music reviews in the Newcastle University student newspaper The Courier about 13 years ago) was for people to enjoy reading it. I loved writing my original guest posts for Sunderland Parents, the website which gave me the opportunity to find my writing voice again (for which I will always be grateful), and realised how cathartic putting fingers to keyboard could be whilst charting my Great North Run training for The Running Stories.
But it was only when I set up this blog, the way I wanted, with the freedom to write about whatever I felt the urge to, that I fully understood the power of blogging. Sharing lovely stories and being sentimental about Joe comes naturally and is a joy to do, but I think is important to do to show that I am a) a real person, and b) truly passionate about the serious issues I like to raise awareness of.
The posts I have written about maternity care, the NHS, premature babies and so on have helped develop my professional knowledge to complement my work, have opened doors to network with some really wonderful people, and have led to my opinion being both respected and worth sharing – a truly great honour. People with far more experience in these fields than I, have read and commented on my blog and value the contribution I am making, something I talked about in my post about my Twitterati status. I am a regular guest blogger for NHS England now, and am no longer embarrassed or ashamed of what I’ve got to say.
Yes, it’s just my opinion, but who hasn’t got an opinion these days? I like to think my blog is worth reading because I care. I want to make things better. I want to raise awareness of issues such as patient experience, pregnancy complications and charity work because they matter to me and therefore I want them to matter to you. And if I can make that happen by writing a stirring blog post and getting you to look at things a bit differently then I have done what I set out to do. And hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it too.
If you would like to foster my growing creative ego, please pop on over to the UK Blog Awards website and register your vote for me there. You could see it, as I first did, as a bit of fun, but I’m seeing it now as a chance to have my voice heard by a bigger audience, to broaden awareness of the issues facing those on the ground in our NHS today and the patients they serve, and the people working hard to make it better for those patients when things are often so tough for themselves.
I promise to keep the cute stuff coming too though. We all need a reason to smile.