So it’s coming up to two weeks since we attended the annual Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards and it has left me feeling once again inspired and motivated. How could anyone not be?!
When the tickets arrived inviting us along there came the sentence my husband dreads, “I’ve nothing suitable, I’m going to have to get something new!” Now, if I’m truthful I have lots of things that I have already worn to different functions but who doesn’t like getting something new for a special event, I know of none! Being out on a career break and having to be careful with money, obviously my husband’s money…the line about what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own, doesn’t really wash at the moment. So when I stumbled upon a bargain at Coast in Debenhams, with my 3½ year old and 18 month old trolley bound giving me the thumbs up and a fist punch as their seal of approval, my outfit was sorted.
I’m the type of girl who absolutely loves getting dressed up in fancy clothes, loving the opportunity to get my make up applied and hair styled. Although these days it doesn’t happen that often, when it does, having three little assistants at home who wish to hold the lipstick, hand over the next hair clip, and put you into your high heels ends up a little stressful…ok mega stressful let’s be honest. When I have babysitters arranged and there is an opportunity available I like to take the stress out of getting ready by letting others help me out by doing it for me. Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean you have to do without the same services like everyone else; you just have to know what’s available. It has probably been since the children arrived that I have come to learn about the service of the makeup counters in department stores. Most counters these days provide the service of makeup application in return for the purchase of one of their products with some carrying no stipulation at all. I have come to know Liz at Estee Lauder in Debenhams for close to four years now. As well as an expert with the brand of Estee Lauder, she is also an expert in her field of skincare and cosmetics. Being able to sit back and let someone else do their magic is just bliss. I relax and enjoy these occasions all the more now knowing I would not get the same opportunity and time when at home with my little assistants.
When it comes to hair appointments and requesting a certain style for a specific occasion, these days I leave no confusion and misunderstanding by showing some images of what I like. I think for the hairdressers that I have come to meet; they always appreciate this as they know then exactly what you want. Although Peter Mark is not my regular hairdresser, any time I have visited I have loved what they produced and yet again this time did not disappoint. Having had long hair for the majority of my life, I have always found it difficult to style and create something other than the usual sleek, straight style and even at that it’s nowhere near perfect. I would try and experiment with other people’s hair if given half the chance, however having a little girl who has her own ideas at present, straying too far from the usual is not considered acceptable.
After hair and makeup is complete there is only one thing left and that is the outfit. I loved my outfit from Coast for the evening, which featured the Rhian Spot Skirt in black which is a high low skirt with statement volume featuring a sheer organza overlay and a wide satin hem. The accompanying Zahara Bow Structured Top features a bow shoulder, bardot neckline and a cropped cut. For my outer layer I wore the Riley Faux Fur Scarf in blush which sat around my neck giving just the right amount of coverage and warmth needed for the evening. For my shoes and handbag I wanted to find blush pink shades to tone with the blush pink from the underskirt. I opted for mid pink satin heeled sandals with a side buckle and a rose gold metallic box clutch both from New Look.
To complete the look I was after, I wore my Mum’s jewellery that has become a firm favourite with each of my sisters and me. I felt very honoured being able to wear this particular set from Shira, as it’s the one that my Mum wore on my wedding day consisting of a drop pendant necklace with iridescent crystal stones with matching bracelet and simple stud earrings. I actually thought about the image of Julia Roberts in the film ‘Pretty Woman’ wearing the red dress and being given the beautiful necklace by Richard Gere to wear to set off the look. I wouldn’t compare myself in the slightest but I certainly felt that special. My little girl said as I made my way downstairs, “Mummy, you look like a Princess!” and truth be told I felt like one. As much as I am happy with my jeans, jumper and converse most days, when the occasion presents itself to bring on the glamour I jump at the chance. For my husband and me attending such events it has become as much a date night as anything. It is an occasion that we look forward to being able to spend quality time together in our finery and remember that look that we each had for each other when we first got together. What more is we get to enjoy eating fine food (hot) and enjoy intellectual adult chat which makes a change from cutting up toast into squares to accompany perfectly formed spaghetti hoops, and being ready to break up another argument that is brewing over who is getting to watch what…My Little Pony v Paw Patrol!
Only at such a prestigious occasion when you get a glimpse of the names appearing on screen for seating do you realise what sporting greats you are surrounded by, I would go as far to say we were surrounded by sporting royalty. The occasion is to celebrate the progress, success and achievements of our sports people by recognising and praising their preparation, hard work, focus and dedication. These sports people whether they are the competitors, coaches, managers, organisers, umpires/referees; they are ambassadors in their chosen sport and are role models to each and every one of us. They are all people who share a passion and love of sport. They are the past, present and future in their sport and have become an inspiration to so many. Those legendary sports people that have gone before, although no longer competing are still inspiring purely from the legacy that surrounds their accolades and history. We were seated next to Willie John McBride, at tables nearby there was Pat Jennings, Dennis Taylor, Dame Mary Peters, Trevor Ringland, Nigel Carr and Jimmy Nicholl naming just a few. There has been so much sporting talent hail from our wee country Northern Ireland and we should all be so proud.
Often I ‘make fun’ of my husband who would gladly watch wall to wall sport on television to the extent whereby he will even watch repeats of matches from yesteryear. He can name starting XI’s of FA Cup Final squads or the starting XV of Five Nations teams from the 80’s, so there is no doubt the impact sport stars had in his teenage years. Now, more than ever, and as was demonstrated at the Belfast Telegraph Awards, is the range of local stars that are at the top of their chosen sport. What an inspiration the likes of Carl Frampton, Bethany Firth, Jonathon Rea and the Northern Ireland footballers are to our young people. In our own case, it will be fascinating to watch who has the greatest initial impact on our three children in the coming years. The special element of all of this is the way these stars handle themselves in the spotlight. Compere for the evening, Craig Doyle, made reference to the fact that he loved the way the sporting people of Northern Ireland are so humble in their achievements. Carl Frampton over the last year has been the greatest example of someone who has been humble in victory and gracious in defeat. These are attributes that we would want any of our young children to possess.
Much debate is given and questioning is made by us as parents as to the different sports and activities we should bring our children along to and although we are trying to provide opportunities for our children to get a taste for the different types there are, we worry is it all too much, too soon. Providing there is the happy balance of rest and play, and all importantly if our children enjoy what they are doing and develop a positive relationship, then that can only be a good thing. As there are so many resources available, facilities and opportunities on the whole we may as well let our little ones take advantage of what is there and get experience of it as early as they are keen. Who knows, perhaps someday, some of the little ones at any of these sporting venues might be attending the same ceremony and receiving an accolade for their sporting greatness.
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back…play for her.”
Mia Hamm, Award-Winning Professional Soccer Player (1987-2004)