On Thursday 7 March, Lloyds TSB hosted the South West regional heat of its Enterprise Awards. These awards recognise university students and recent graduates who have run a successful business for between one and five years.
I must have attended events alone in the past, I’m sure, but I was definitely nervous. There’s always that need to linger a little longer than necessary when picking up your name badge and then spending a considerable time fixing it to your jacket, meanwhile thinking ‘what do I do now?’ in blind panic, whilst cementing a smile to your face, of course.
The table of drinks was a welcome sight, not because I needed a quick brandy to sink the nerves (it was 11.45am) but because it gave me a ‘next move’. Having been to several events with people, it is strange to be the person on your own and looking for a similar lone-ranger, only to realise that everyone in the room is engaged in conversation, in fact everyone else in the world probably is at that moment.
Luckily, I was soon rescued by some people from Lloyds TSB but the question ‘what table are you on for lunch?’ soon concerned me. I pictured an awkward silence interrupted only by the sound of cutlery and ‘can you pass the vegetables please?’ and thought maybe I shouldn’t have refused the champagne… Again, I was relieved to be seated next to a very friendly man from Lloyds TSB, who pretended not to notice when I catapulted carrots across the table, (always a good sign) and one of the regional finalists, David Forsyth, owner of Driftwood Surfboards.
Frustratingly, I have never been near a surfboard in my life. I had the immediate thought that maybe I could pretend I was a surfer and that might encourage conversation, but I soon realised that was a, frankly ridiculous, idea and resolved to stick to the truth. Thankfully David was happy to talk about his business and something he is clearly so passionate about (like asking me about the EUTR…) and this was certainly a common theme amongst the entrepreneur finalists. Excitingly for me, fate meant I was sat next to the only finalist with any interest in timber, and as anyone who has read my previous blog will know – I was soon on a timber roll! Sorry David!