Wow, so these awards….I really was on an emotional rollercoaster and if I was a sweary type (which I can be in real-life, but never online!) then there would be bleeps throughout this blog post!

Firstly, the important bit, the calendar itself.  This was created to help raise funds for Helping Paws, a volunteer organisation, based in Brighton and made up of people who work tirelessly to raise money to help animals in need, in the UK and across Europe.

The calendar idea was developed the previous year, Helping Paws ran a virtual dog show online via Facebook, there were 12 categories ranging from most naughty dog to best non-dog. The idea was the 12 winners would feature in the calendar and all profits would go to HP. We had entries from all around the world and the judging was by myself, the fabulous artist Sara Abbott and the crime writer, Peter James.

It’s definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do and will have to think twice if asked to be a judge for anything again!

I painted portraits of the 12 winners in watercolour, included their background stories , designed the layout of the Calendar and onsale it went, online and via many of my UK stockists. It was the idea of Tracey at Greetings Today Magazine to enter it in the National Awards for the Cause related category. I entered it with a ‘oh well, why not? attitude’ and thought nothing more of it

It was great to see fellow publisher Emma Ball there and we all sat together wincing our way through Nick Ferrari from LBC Radio’s welcome speech, it was quite entertaining but perhaps not for the reasons he intended, I’m not sure we arty types were his ideal audience!

Emma cleaned up in not one but 3 categories!

I think I was man handling one of her awards when my name was announced, the naked rowers (clothed) were sat behind us and I think everyone including me and Nick Ferrari thought they were going to win our category, but no, watercolour portraits of eleven rescue dogs and one rescue cat won the day!

The invites arrived in December, with news that I was a finalist.

I realised they were the day after the Scotland Trade Fair so it was a possibility I wouldn’t even make it AND once I’d seen I was up against the naked rowers calendar in my category I did wonder if there was any point in attending at all…

The Venue was the Stationers Hall near St. Pauls which was draw enough on it’s own, dating from circa 1670 it’s home to the Stationers’ company, which is one of the livery companies of the City of London, as a self confessed stationery fetishist, this is a venue I’ve always been intrigued about visiting.

So I drove down from Scotland on the day of the awards, dropped my car at my sisters house and headed into town, looking forward to an evening of networking and catching up with friends and family and no expectations at all



You know when you get a really happy shock surprise and you’re smiling, laughing (slightly hysterically) and letting go of the odd snort…no? just me then! Well that was me, thankfully I didn’t cry but that could well have been my next emotion if I hadn’t gotten a grip of myself!

It really does mean so much to a working artist to be recognised with a national award for their work and yes I absolutely did do some unflattering fist pumping/running on the spot in the ladies room afterwards! I then drank too much wine…

The calendar itself raised just a small part ,£2,000, and counting of the £195,000 raised by Helping Paws in the last 4 years, they have rehomed nearly 400 dogs and 20 cats and kittens, every penny goes to help animals in need and to know that I’ve contributed towards that is also just as emotional for me as winning this award!

If you’d like to find out more about Helping Paws you do so here

PS If you were concerned for the naked rowers, don’t worry, they didn’t go home empty handed they won the Peoples Choice award!