Raw beef, former MP and 400 lost on Blackjack, what else but the ITP Annual Awards Dinner
The ITP Annual Awards Dinner 2016 – just passing through this year…
Earlier this month I attended the annual ITP Awards Dinner where last year we had two apprentices in the final and one of our apprentices walked away with the title Apprentice of the Year 2015. This year I asked our apprentice Ryan Jones if he would like to come along and see what the Awards Dinner is all about and as an incentive to put in a great application for the Apprentice of the Year Award 2017. I will now hand you over to Ryan.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into the evening. I have never been to an award ceremony and not be up for anything, it was a rather weird feeling. My time will of course come next year. However, in the meantime I’ll focus on this year’s awards. When Steve Smith told me about the evening and asked me if I wanted to go with him, he managed to bundle in me writing a blog about the evening as well, well here it is. Enjoy.
One thing Steve mentioned to me was that I need to inject as much of my humour into this blog post as possible, even if it at the expense of Steve. To me that sounds like a challenge. I’ll get into it further later, but unfortunately my best dig at Steve came the morning after, however I did manage to sneak a couple of digs in about a certain salesman at Astro, I won’t name names, but it rhymes with So Bling. It’s worth mentioning it is less fun when you can’t see the people’s reaction as you tear their egos up for a quick laugh.
“…Steve taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my time at Astro, how to leave and re-enter a room to get more reception champagne.”
Steve and I met at Charing Cross station, I arrived before him and he used the excuse that he saw someone he knew so get held up on the platform. In his defence, he said he was talking to a very attractive woman, but at the same he didn’t have his glasses on that evening, so who knows who he was chatting up on the platform. We caught a cab to the hotel, and once I was comfortable that the cab driver wasn’t trying to kill us by driving like a maniac, I could sit back and relax for a bit. We got to the hotel, my door was opened by hotel staff for me. It is at this point I should point out, I can’t think of a single instance as to where my door has been opened for me by another person; I’m from Dartford, the only doors that are opened for you in Dartford, are the doors to McDonald’s, and that’s only because they never get time to actually close. If I knew my door was going to be opened for me, I would have paid the cab driver to play “Ultimate” by Denzel Curry, very loud as I left the cab (by the way not a song for the faint hearted). Perhaps an idea for next year…
With a couple of drinks ordered downstairs before we went to the event, we started chatting about my class at college. Steve asked what the ratio of male to females are in my class, I told him there is only one girl in my class. Steve asked me what I thought we could do to try to get more females interested in telecoms, to which I replied “I’m not sure, we could ask Joe to see why he got into it”. Steve almost spat his drink over the floor.
Drinks down we headed upstairs. I feel I should also mention, when I told my parents where I was going for the evening, I said “someone from work is taking me to a hotel for an event put on by the people that help run my apprenticeship”, if I would have said that an elderly gentleman is taking me to a hotel, they might have thought I was being groomed, and been hesitant about me leaving. At the entrance to the function room, Liv from the ITP was checking people’s names off a list, quick hello and catch-up over, Steve dropped his coat off, he pointed out to me that he normally loses the little slip they give you to get your coat back. I’m still trying to work out if it is perhaps a symptom of early onset dementia, or if Steve is normally too hammered to remember which pocket he put it in. I quickly ran through my head a scenario in where Steve loses the slip, I charm the cloakroom attendant whilst he leaps over the desk to retrieve his coat. Looking back, it was optimistic of me to think that Steve would be the one to leap over the desk.
“Shadow? That means she lost, doesn’t it? Joe would like her then.”
Coat dropped off we headed into the rather packed pre-drinks room, where Steve taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my time at Astro, how to leave and re-enter a room to get more reception champagne. There were attendants at the door with the reception champagne, as we had our first, we ditched our glasses, and went back for more, it was time for Steve to show me how it’s done. Walk out of the door on the left, then swing round and walk back through the entrance (right door) with a smile and hello to the attendants. Lesson taught and more drinks secured we headed back in.
Something I regret was not getting a picture of a chap who was wearing a suit, with trainers. I like a pair of trainers, however not when there is a suit attached to the person wearing them, very weird, very annoying that I didn’t take a picture. We eventually got ushered into the dining hall where the dinner and awards were taking place. On our table was myself and Steve, my two college lecturers, Crissi from the ITP and four people from Green Telecoms. The dinner itself wasn’t too much to write home about, although I will mention that we had Beef Carpaccio for starters, and when the waitress asked me if the meal was ok, I did think of saying that the beef was a tad undercooked.
With the dinner, out of the way the ceremony began. To kick it off they had a guest speaker; Ann Widecombe. She was introduced by the CEO of the ITP, who said. “I’d like to introduce our guest speaker, former Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for Health”. It was at this point I turned to Steve to say “Shadow? That means she lost, doesn’t it? Joe would like her then”.
Ann’s speech was quite good, very little politics and she included stories about her time on ‘Strictly’. Steve set me the task getting a Selfie with Ann. As you can see from the picture below, task completed. Ann was very lovely for taking a quick selfie with me.
As the awards and winners were being called, there was lots of cheers from different tables when the winners names were read out. I have no doubt in my mind Astro will be the loudest table next year. With the awards over, to finish the night, The ITP hired a live band to perform, who I’m adamant didn’t play a single song that was made in the last 20 years. They also had a Casino out in the same room we had the pre-drinks in. I lost 400 fake dollars on blackjack, not too bothered by that as it was fake money. One thing that I am annoyed by is that there was a young blonde also at the table, but she kept winning. This was annoying not only because I was being beat, but because she had no clue about the game or what was going on. She couldn’t even add the two cards up she was being dealt. She won a bottle of champagne as she won the most fake money. I’m not bitter at all.
“Steve when was the last time you worked 4 days a week?”
Steve invited me along with the hope that I can take something away from the night, an edge over my upcoming opposition next year, an insight into what it takes to be a winner. Mission accomplished. I met a very nice chap who was a judge this year, he gave me great advice on what the difference between a winner and a finalist is. It was a good evening and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you very much to Steve for bringing me along, and to the ITP for a great night. When I make my return next year, I plan to leave with 1st place trophy. It is also worth mentioning that there were no speeches from the Victors. This is disappointing. I’m not the biggest public speaker, however, I would absolutely smash the victory speech.
Oh, and if anyone is wondering what my dig at Steve was the morning after, my College Assessor came in the next day and started to moan that he worked four days last week and he is working four days this week. I turned to Steve and said “Steve when was the last time you worked 4 days a week?” When Steve had finished laughing he swore at me, and made an excuse that he does a lot of charity work.
Thank you, Ryan – I think? I should just say that Ryan’s timing with his College Assessor was perfect. I had just signed off his assessments and written a glowing report. Had he made that comment a few minutes earlier he may have had a slightly different outcome.
On a serious note, we believe apprenticeships are vitally important for our industry and partnering with The ITP for our Telecommunications Apprenticeship Scheme is very important to our business strategy for both engineering and sales apprenticeships. So, I would also like to add a big thank you to The ITP too. I also enjoyed the ITP Annual Awards Dinner very much, especially Ann Widdecombe’s account of her time in Strictly Come Dancing when she recalled Anton Du Beke’s initial assessment of Ann’s abilities when he told her he needed to keep her feet off the floor as much as possible if they were to make any progress through the competition.