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!


London 2012: Four Years On

Today marks four years since the London 2012 Olympics opened in spectacular style with an Opening Ceremony that surpassed expectations and challenged the boundaries of what is possible in an live event. Thousands of people were involved in the evening, masterminded by Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, and now is a fitting point to look back at the wonders we remember so well.

I vividly remember the countdown to the ceremony on screen, 60 diverse photos of numbers from across the capital, perhaps even the country. I was sat alongside some of my greatest friends during my favourite week of the year, Bredon, and were treated to the most amazing hour of shocks, surprises and stunning stagecraft. The opening segment ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ gives a sweeping overview of British history with impressive effects and a phenomenal scale of organisation with the numerous volunteers on stage. ‘Happy and Glorious’ is perhaps my favourite segment, showing the love we have for the royals and the willingness of the Queen to have a comedic part in the proceedings. The small touches, like a small look inside Buckingham Palace and the presence of Brazilian tourists, gave this section extra charm, even if it was pretty clear that the person jumping out of the plane wasn’t actually our monarch.

‘Second to the right, and straight on till morning’ was the last section I saw live and I was underwhelmed at first. However, on a second or third watch it certainly is spectacular, featuring staff and patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital and a stunning display of logos and pictures via lights on hospital beds. The combination with children’s literature and the appearance of J. K. Rowling makes this an even more magical and captivating part of the show, reflecting the transfer of stories into reality in the minds of children.

I missed out of Rowan Atkinson’s starring role in Chariots of Fire first time around, due to being in bed, but when I did see it there was a further sense of amazement and laughter as Atkinson wins the famous race from Chariots of Fire. As a music lover the ceremony really reflects the rich musical heritage that the UK has to offer and this permeates the rest of the ceremony, including the Parade of Nations. The later parts of the ceremony didn’t capture my attention or imagination as much as the first hour, but they are still just as well crafted, if a bit repetitive to watch when you reach the athletes entrances.

Four years on there’s a lot that has changed, both personally and on a national level. Four years ago I had just left secondary school with a broken relationship with my best friend and a pending operation date for spinal fusion. Now, I have plenty of friends (including the one whose friendship I’d lost for years ago), am almost four years post-spinal fusion and am starting my final year at university with many more blessings and far less anxiety than when the Olympics were in London. On a national scale, who could forget the recent Brexit, the changes in student loans and many other non-political differences that have appeared over such a short time. On that note, I’d like to leave you with this article from Buzzfeed about the hope seen from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony for today’s Britain. And now it’s time to look forward to the hope of success in this year’s Rio Olympics!