So here we are again. On the one hand it seems like 1st January 2023 was forever ago, on the other, the year has exploded in a technicoloured , glitter bomb of a party popper; a damned good blast, that didn’t last long but has left glitter everywhere!!! And in a few short hours it will be time to say goodnight 2023, good morning 2024! and for the first time since I was a teenager, I am not sure I will stay away to see it!
It might be age. but I don’t think so,. I think I’ve peaked 24 hours too early whilst celebrating with my incredible children their partners and my absolutely beautiful grandchildren. I have a sack overflowing with gratitude to carry into the New Year…
I’m sat here now, semi dozing on the sofa, with a long G&T, the sound of the kids and their friends catching up with each other before heading off to the annual Llanwrtyd New Year’s Eve town party with Small Town Samba and Sir Dangerous Dave and Friends. I’m going to stay home, babysit the grandchildren and enable our 3 boys to hit the town together on the annual occasion where they are all in the same town (country) together.
Its a time for reflection on the 12 months now drawing to a close. And I’m finding it hard to work out what things happened in 2023 and what happened before!
I’ll probably nod off in front of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, and reflect back this year on the fact that I met a couple of his guests (Joanne Harper and Holly Brewer, oh and Rod Stewart) on the show at the business launch party of my now good friend, Toby Hawker, who I know due to our shared surreal experience as contestants of the pilot new series on BBC2s Ultimate Wedding Planner. It aired August/September ’23, but we filmed together in 2022 from August to November and had to keep in secret until this July. (If you are ever planning an entertainment led event of The House of Toby is the place to go!)
Together with the other contestants, we were living in the surreal, in between, anticipatory world, where life may or may not change as a result of that 8 part show.
Thankfully my life remains unaltered. There’s been the odd nod of recognition, for example, whilst heading through security and then boarding at Stanstead Airport in September, or shopping in Lynton this Christmas. There’s been a radio slot on BBC Radio Wales with the lovely Behnaz Akhgar.
These moments were fun, uplifting and gratefully received. People are just lovely and I absorb these beautiful, unexpected, uplifting connections and hold them in my heart.
As a result of the show I also had the opportunity to go to Belfast for the brand launch of Chantelle.co with Ultimate Wedding Planner Winner, Chantelle Walsh. And I have ongoing adventures planned and to plan with the super talented and truly gorgeous soul that is Tash Nicolson (from the show, living in Hull and truly an inspirational creative talent, A Labour of Love by Tash). Remaining in contact with the majority of the contestants and knowing that we have this unique shared experience, I hope that I get the opportunity to do something in partnership with Shabana in the future, even if its just to finally get to meet her lovely children and new baby.
I also got to take inspiration from the ‘Queen of Crafting’ and Newcastle Dragon, Sara Davies. She was such a delight to work alongside, her as a judge on the show. I loved her genuine interest and passion for each of the weddings, the lucky couples, and, foremost, her enthusiasm and support for our creative ideas, skills and meltdowns. I definitely appreciated her hugs.
Then there was Raj Somaiya (Silverfox Events); a legend in the high end Asian Wedding and Event Planning business. He was on a similar journey to us, from the perspective of being in front of the camera. and it was a privilege to see his personal growth into the role of TV celeb; but mostly it was a pleasure to form a friendship with him and I truly value his energy, enthusiasm, care and compassion for those he works with and works for. He was so supportive from day one and remains a presence it mu life. I hope that continues.
The glitter I keep finding and smiling as a result of this year began with a Lapp (my mum’s side) family reunion for my mums 80th birthday. It was surprisingly lovely to connect with my cousins who I have not scene since I was a kid, and some of their children. I had expected to feel overwhelmed, but it was simply joyful.
Hubby spent 4 weeks in Saudi with his eldest and his (our) beautiful grandchildren. I had a blast!!! We’ve been together 29 and a quarter years and, other than the filming schedule of the previous year, we really hadn’t spend time apart in that time. It was liberating, I worked in my studio, stayed over at friends, ate all the foods he hates, watched corning TV he would be bored with and generally had a fab time in the knowledge that he was living the dream with the added benefit of a 3 day pass to the Bahrain Grand Prix. Its a trip he plans to repeat in 2024. And despite, how much I love him, its a month I am very excited to be having to myself. 😉
Shortly after his return I got to see my kiddliwigs myself, when they came from Saudi and spend a few days with us in Wales.
Workwise I remain a happy bunny. So privileged to be able to support families in both their grief, fear and celebration. I take huge pride in my ability to support and guide families in their farewells; advocating for them, empowering to be true to their lost loved ones as well as themselves in how they create a celebration of life or achievements. I know I can make a difference on how they step onto the winding journey of grief.
I also had the joy of helping many couples share love and gratitude at their weddings or vow renewals. Helping tell their love stories in the way they want, in beautiful, personal, intimate locations is a pleasure . I will never tire of it.
And then my own son both proposed to his girlfriend whom he has been dating since school (9 years) amid and, they bought their first house together. I am bursting with pride and happiness for them
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, I held space for plenty of grief, helping families say difficult farewells to loved ones who died too soon, including two special friends, Cat (to whom I had gifted a 10th anniversary vow renewal whilst she was still well enough amidst her enduring battle against her cancer), and, just before Christmas, my friend, Dave. Sometimes life is just too cruel and its hard to see any light. Holding space, listening, and remembering those we have lost by sharing stories and memories, is all we can do. It may not seem enough, but in the moment, these little things can be everything. Remember to reach out to those who are struggling and let them know they are in your heart and mind. You will never know the importance of it, but do it anyway
In addition to all the above, 2023 saw John and I on a road trip to Perth, Scotland in our two Hillman’s, no breakdowns either there or back and we had great fun alongside other Imp enthusiasts at the Imp National on their 60th anniversary. Not only that, Ffloyd won BEST IN SHOW and received The Rosmary Smith Perpetual Trophy, sadly Rosemary was too ill to be there and was another legend lost in 2023. Ffloyd was also invited to the exhibition stand at the NEC classic car show, affording John and middle son, Graham, a fabulous boys long weekend.
We also had the most fabulous two weeks in and around Carcassonne, in France , where I had the wonderful experience of officiating a magical wedding of other new friends, Tim and Rui at a rural chateau, it was “magnifique”. And Just before Christmas a really relaxing week in Gran Canaria
The conversational podcast I host alongside my wonderful friend, Dinah Liversidge, Ask A Celebrant, continues to grow in popularity. In addition I have begun my own, Full Life podcast (check it out on YouTube) thanks to connecting with two beautiful , talented people locally, Ella & Luke , who keep me on track with my social media
In the summer the Official Monster Raving Loony Party Conference was help here in Llanwrtyd Wells. Points were made…
The year culminated in the installation of my second window at Myddfai Hall, literally 3 days ago. There will be an official unveiling alongside a celebration of all things Welsh, at the hall on St Davids Day (1st March 2024). Look out for event information I would be delighted if you could join me xxx
And that’s it, in round up. A year of poignant farewells, joyful unions, new friendships, growing friendships, unique experiences and an overload of gratitude and pride. For those carrying the huge weight of grief on their shoulders now, I hope the weight diminishes enough to allow you to walk alongside it and occasional smile at the good fortune of having had so much love in your life. I hope you see enough light in the friends and family that still love you and are there to walk alongside you and help you carry your burden
For those in love, I wish you fun and joy in planning your celebrations. I hope that you remember in all the excitement and stress of planning the main purpose of it all, which is the sharing of your love, happiness and hopes for the future alongside those who love you and who will share in your joy. What I’m saying is stop sweating the details and enjoy the ride. Its an incredible adventure, be present for every moment
As for me, I am so excited for the coming year. Grateful for all my friendships, both old and new, excited for what is to come and optimistic as I step into 2024, with vigour, new goals and the wonderful connections I am yet to make.
So, Goodnight 2023, good morning 2024
Much love to you all.