I was most excited to learn that I was a finalist in the Sports Section for Next Magazine's Woman of the Year. This was the second year this event has been run and I really hope that they continue to do so.
As the day came closer I was contacted by Next Magazine and offered accommodation, to which I quickly accepted as I had not sorted out where I would stay and it was this offer that sealed my decision to fly up and go to the event. I was really surprised when I found out that I would be staying at the Rydges Hotel. It is super flash!!!
My day started out with my flight up to Auckland on Thursday afternoon. I caught the Airbus into the city and walked up to find the Rydges. I checked in and made my way up to level 7 and found my room. I had 3 hours to kill so I kicked back and watched tv and checked out my room. Aly Cook and I had arranged to be each others date for the night and she had very kindly offered to give me a lift to and from the event. I was so thankful for this as I really was not sure how I was going to get there other than walking.
We were dropped out outside the Art Gallery and as we were a little early we mingled out side with some of the other early arrivals too. I loved the huge tree laying on its side in a pool of water with BRIGHT red leaves, so Aly and I had a photo taken in front of it. I had seen another couple trying to take their own photo so I went over and offered to take their photo for them and they returned the favor. The lady was Dr Christine Couldrey - Ultra Distance Athlete, so we chatted while we waited to be let in. The Art Gallery has just been finished and so I think this event is one of the first events to be held in it.
I must admit to not being very 'arty'....I know what I do and don't like...but that doesn't really help much when wandering in an Art Gallery as I have to say that nothing caught my eye and some of the rooms didn't feel like the art that was displayed flowed or fitted together....but that is just my own thoughts.
The first thing as we entered the room - we were all greeted and given our own Pandora Bracelet with a crown charm and two lock charms. WOW, and then we were also given a white Carmelia to wear on our wrist.....this was worn by the finalists, so we could all know each other etc. We were given a glass of bubbles and started mingling. I spoke with Jenny Shipley and many many other women whom I could not put names too. The wine kept flowing, each time your glass was empty it would be filled, I was feeling very heady and needed food. Ladies wandered among us with finger food to nibble on. It was a lovely selection - small meat balls, bacon wrapped sausage, chicken, seafood wrap and stuffed mushrooms.
There was a lovely string quartet playing as approx 200 guests mingled and talked, the buzz from the room made it difficult to hear what each was saying. I loved standing back and people watching. The clothing, shoes and hair.....everyone was dressed impeccably. At last the moment of the evening came and we all gathered around to hear and see who would be the winners of each section.
The winner of the sports section was just as I had guessed - Jayne Parsons - Paralympian and I agree totally with the judges decision, she truly is an inspiration to women, overcoming domestic violence and loosing her sight - to then take up cycling. Is bravery and courage beyond belief.
The overall Winner was Lesley Elliott. For those not from NZ and don't know, her daughter Sophie Elliott was brutally murdered 4 years ago at the hands of her then boyfriend. Lesley has written a book and launched the Sophie Elliott foundation to help change the attitude towards domestic violence.
It was the most amazing and special evening, I was so honored to have been made a finalist and getting to spend the evening with so many inspiring and amazing women.
Thank you Next Magazine and Pandora, I cant wait to see who will be nominated for 2012's Next Woman of the year.