2016 review banner

2016 in review

2016 review banner

It’s 31st December 2016, which means that it’s the end of another year. There’s been a lot of talk about the awfulness of the last year, particularly concerning deaths and politics, but I want to look back at the personal positives, month by month.

BBC Broadcasting House at NightJanuary – although it seems like a distant memory, I kicked off 2016 with a tour of the BBC with Media Society, where the people were so bright and cheerful that I knew I wanted to work there. I also wrote a LOT of articles for the Orbital and started doing radio on Thursday mornings. The month ended in Wokingham at the CU Weekend Away, which was a refreshing break.

Louise Jones and Beth Carr, Orbital Magazine award winners
Photo Credit: Laura Denham

February – again, February is very long ago! I used the lack of presenters on Valentine’s Day to do a Valentine’s special of Entertaining History and finished my day off by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the first time. However, my ultimate highlight of February, and perhaps my year, was winning Best Journalist for The Orbital at Societies Ball.

March – the month of my 20th birthday and lots of other cool things too! I was in the band for Pirates of Penzance by the Savoy Opera Society and I got elected to the position of Head of Training for Insanity Radio 103.2FM. I also went to my first Student Radio Conference in Cardiff, which was amazing fun, and built a TARDIS out of Lego.

Tim and Beth on Let Them Hear with Lizzy FretwellApril – revision is my main memory of April but I also cut my hair off to raise money for Evelina London and donated the hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children. Tim and I also successfully applied for a Christian radio show on Insanity Radio 103.2FM called Let Them Hear, which is still going!

May – exams always overshadow May but there were some good points too! Let Them Hear continued and a particular highlight was Tim doing the show solo while I was in an exam. I also gained a position on the editorial board for the Orbital as Deputy Arts Editor, which I had been hoping to achieve for six months.Beth Carr in the Insanity studio

June – so many great things happened this month! I attended the first Interfaith Ball in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery with lovely friends from CU and amazing tiny bowls of food. I masterminded the pre-recording and summer holiday schedule for Insanity that secured us enough content to cover the whole summer. I started my two regular shows at Coastway Hospital Radio and aired a special show for International Scoliosis Awareness Day on Coastway and Insanity Radio. I also got the chance to cover the EU Referendum for the Argus newspaper, doing my first all-nighter to cover the count in Horsham. Oh, and we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

July – the first full month of a long summer saw a new job unpacking and plugging in computers and my first major work experience at Create Productions as part of the Royal Holloway Placements Scheme. It was also the beginning of being part of the regional SRA Training Day, alongside Smoke Radio from Westminster.

Selfie with Paul Layzell
Credit: Paul Layzell

August – my dad retired and we went on a short holiday to Bournemouth (I ate a three course meal outside of my own house for the first time in years and I was so proud). I did have the slight misfortune of trapping my finger in a car door but that pales into insignificance compared to the amazing week I had as a small part of leading R4@Woolie! I also went back to the Science Museum for the first time in AGES and it was amazing.

The Insanity/Rhubarb team with the QuarterlightsSeptember – I met Paul Layzell and the Quarterlights, celebrated a whole year with Insanity, interviewed Alex Manzi on the eighth floor of BBC Broadcasting House: if there was one month that shows how amazing student media is then this is the one! I also started my third year with courses that I really enjoy.

October – one of the hardest months as I struggled with anxiety and depression but also one of the most amazing. I met rising star Tom Walker, saw #SRADayLondon turn out amazingly, and joined a brand new family: Voices of Holloway! A Night At The Theatre was a great experience and the following week I went to Come In Your Socs (which is the societies club night at the Students’ Union) with three societies (I started at Voices, then Insanity, then actually arrived with the Orbital but mixed around once we arrived)

Credit: Student Radio Association
Credit: Student Radio Association

November – I kicked off the month at home for a well-earned rest, but also went to the wonderful Sorted, which was a spiritual recharge and accidental R4 reunion. The following week was the SRAs, where we didn’t win but had a fun time together as a radio station, and then the rhubarbTV Training Day, which was a fab day learning about all things broadcast and something Jon and Catriona (the organisers) should be very proud of. It ended with another CU Weekend Away too, both productive and restful. I also started my podcast, ‘Doctor Who and the Dissertation’.

Nativity castDecember – the month just gone has been as busy and good as all the others. I’ve had the Voices of Holloway Christmas Concert, multiple Christmas meals, R4 reunion, the Unscene Festival, Create work experience for the second time, chances to see friends from slightly far, the Let Them Hear Christmas Special with added audio drama, work, rest, study, relax, seeing family…

Of course all of the events above don’t count the wonderful friendships I have made and maintained over the year. From those who have been there for years and years to those who I’ve only just had the pleasure to meet, this year has been one I wouldn’t have got through without your love and support. I couldn’t possibly list everyone for fear of accidentally forgetting anyone so I hope you all know who you are!

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Declan Hubert: 29th July 1996 – 8th May 2011

Today marks exactly five years to the day since my friend Declan passed away following a road traffic accident. He was 14 years old. His death was an event that really affected me, making me aware of my own mortality and how undeserving people have their lives tragically cut short. It is also something that changed many people for the better. The celebration of his life was a fantastic opportunity to remember the good God who is keeping Dec safe in heaven for eternity and his sister was motivated to write wonderful music. Declan remains in my thoughts in many situations, when I am in awe and when I am distressed, and I want to pay tribute to him and those who nurtured him to become the wonderful person he was. This is something I did three years ago on After Scoliosis, but I feel like there is more that needs saying. 

There are a select number of memories that I can replay vividly in my mind, including a number of events from that fateful weekend five years ago following Declan’s car crash. The Saturday morning when I discovered what happened the previous day. The Sunday evening when I came home from youth group to discover our prayers for his life hadn’t been granted. The Monday morning when I tried not to be angry during school at how things had turned out and how others had reacts. And the Tuesday afternoon when I stepped out of the hospital and felt guilty about being happy. Looking back it seems strange that we’d had little to no contact since leaving primary school as the impact that Declan’s life and death had on me was considerable.

Dec was always around at primary school. He was friendly and sensitive and I would bump into him a lot because our first names were adjacent in the register and so the trays where we kept books and other belongings were next to each other, I even remember that he sat at the front of our year 6 classroom next to the trays. He was gifted at music and excelled in our production of The Sound of Music, taking on the part of one of the children and singing Robbie Williams’ Angels (I cannot remember why that song was part of the play but it was so fitting). I know he kept up singing and playing the guitar up until he died, with the amazing ability to learn songs by ear, listening to his iPod on his paper round.

It was a Friday morning when the accident happened. He was only crossing the road, it was nobody’s fault, just bad timing and a blind corner. I still cannot drive normally past that spot and exercise extra care as a pedestrian, especially trying not to listen to music whilst walking because it knocks out one of your senses. I didn’t find out about the accident until the following morning and we prayed at home and at church on Sunday that Declan would survive, despite being in a critical condition in the local neurological hospital. Youth group was a struggle that evening and coming home I was greeted with the news, via Facebook, that Dec’s parents had bravely decided to turn his life support off. It took me around 10 minutes to process that our prayers hadn’t saved his life. It was only a few weeks later at the celebration of Declan’s life that we started to realise that God had other plans and touched hundreds of people through the celebration, held in a large marquee in a field in Hangleton. The Hubert’s story spread via Melissa’s beautiful music, including Voice In The Choir written about encouraging experiences surrounding her brother’s death, which she has blogged about. A DVD was also made about the circumstances and I am going to end this post with the moving trailer for that.

There are few people who have touched my life as much as Declan has, we continue to miss you Dec and look forward to reuniting in heaven, where I’m sure you will be the first to introduce us to Jesus. Your family are an inspiration and you have not been forgotten.