Well, thank you and Good Night PRISM Co Chair.
What an absolute privilege, and absolute blast, it has been to jointly lead one of the most successful UK government LGBT Networks ever.
It’s been a mad five year journey that’s seen me flying a solitary Rainbow Flag in a muddy field in the darkest depths of North Wales to standing very proudly outside the famous door of No 10 as an select invitee to a Pride Party with the PM.
In fact, it was quite amazing how someone who always said they would never be a ‘banner waver,’ quickly picked up the pink baton and speedily ran like a lunatic with it.
Mind you, it’s been bloody hard work over the years not dropping that baton, tenaciously doing the ‘gay job’ whilst delivering in the ‘day job’
Lots of late nights at the office dealing with the constant emails, endless hours leading on the Comms side to build a brand and profile, and weeks spent filling out of that Stonewall WEI Submission.
Then there was all that frequent travelling to meet like minded souls, the time taken out to advise and help others, and the presenting and speaking at conferences, women’s programmes, schools – and anywhere else that would have me.
All the above of course doesn’t include actually trying to run the Network and shape an engaged Steering Group who felt confident and empowered to develop and deliver.
Then there were the ‘challenges’. Believe me anyone who thinks that all queer people are united by rainbow dust and unicorn magic, can think again – it’s been absolutely brutal at times…ouch!
But what stunning success we have had! And all celebrated with some outstanding colleagues, from all over the UK, who have also became firm friends. Top 10 of the Stonewall Workplace Index, the highest performing government organisation, Top Trans employer, best Stonewall Staff Network (twice), UK Civil Service Diversity, and Impact, Awards plus too many prestigious shortlists to mention.
And best of all, actually giving something back by helping numerous newbie Networks, across the public and private sector, here and in the UK, to set up at the start of their journey like those generous others who once helped me.
I certainly got about a bit too. Lots of London trips, many an evening at events, time spent supporting our wider LGBT family in Wales and wider, plus all those coffee and catch ups.
And Jesus wept, how many Prides have I done – too many to put as candles on a cake that’s for sure. I caroused in Cardiff, loved life in London, marched in Manchester, energetically engaged in Edinburgh, beat the drum in Belfast, swaggered in Swansea and gave it large in Glasgow – making a new BFFL with FM Nicola Sturgeon as an added bonus on that Celtic occasion.
Of course, I carried that banner everywhere, fully decked out in my trusty corporate clothing and full Rainbow regalia that included sunglasses, lanyards, whistles, socks, garlands and even a natty Stetson one time…yeah I know, what was that all about?
So now it’s time to move on, as apart from being absolutely knackered, the comfort zone can become a very uncomfortable place to be.
I’m off for a well-deserved rest before picking up a brand new baton, grabbing some new challenges by the jugular, and realising some long held ambitions.
I wish the Network all the very best but for me it’s been there, done that, got the T Shirt…it’s a PRISM one of course!
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist.
She blogs about all things Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.