James Hunt, BAPS Awards Ambassador

Here at My Family, Our Needs, organisers of the BAPS Awards, we are thrilled to announce our first ever Awards Ambassador, James Hunt! James’s blog, Stories About Autism, shares posts about his two children, Tommy and Jude, both of whom are autistic and currently non-verbal. James is a previous BAPS Awards winner and hosts a podcast where he interviews other people from the autism community. Take it away James!

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know just how special the BAPs Awards have been for me over the last five years. Well, I’m delighted to announce that I am now their first ever Awards Ambassador!

The BAPS Awards (Bloody Awesome Parents) was set up in 2017, an awards ceremony to recognise SEND bloggers, parents and carers of children with additional needs, and for all that they share online.

Getting to grips

When the awards were first announced I’d been blogging for a little over a year and was thrilled to be nominated by some of my followers. I started Stories about Autism as a way to explain a little more about autism to friends and family and help them keep up with the realities of our day to day lives. The more I shared, the more it seemed to resonate with others and the more I became involved in the online world of SEND.

I soon got to know other families who were sharing their own stories by following their updates and chatting by message. But, we were spread across the UK, and with very little free time, it seemed unlikely that we’d ever meet in person.

Forging relationships

The BAPS Awards changed all of that. Suddenly there was a date, a venue, a chance to try and arrange childcare, have a well-deserved night off and actually meet up in real life. That first awards ceremony was a lot of fun, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the awards each year since, apart from 2020 when it was online. Thanks pandemic!

Some of those people have become firm friends who I can’t wait to see again each year. But the great thing is that every year there are new bloggers too, new faces, people whose story you might not yet know. Yet, there’s always an instant connection. The realisation that you already have so much in common, so much you can talk about.

Because of that the awards night is always a great success. Some people turn up completely alone, knowing nobody, but by the end of the night they never fail to leave without a few new friends. People who they’ll stay in contact with for years to come.

Letting loose

The event itself is a lot of fun. An awards ceremony with a special guest as host. Over the years there’s been Sally Phillips, Gethin Jones, Carrie Grant, Christine McGuiness and Mathew Horne, all who have their own connection to the SEND world.

There’s dinner, drinks, dancing and the celebrations continue into the early hours of the morning. There’s something about being in a room full of people who just get it. Who you can tell are so in need of a much-deserved night off and a chance to let their hair down a little. I’ve met multiple parents at the awards who were having their first night off in more than five years.

This creates a special kind of atmosphere. You can see it in people’s faces just how grateful they are for the opportunity to get out and socialise, in a place where they’re surrounded by people who they have so much in common with.

Celebrating community

For the awards nominees and ultimately the winners, the BAPS is even more than that. It’s an opportunity to recognise all the hard work that the finalists have put in. The bravery it takes to share their own stories online, and to be so vulnerable, all with the common goal of making the world a little better for their children and families like their own.

The awards also improve awareness and understanding of various special educational needs and disabilities, helping to reduce stigma and challenge stereotypes. Previous winners include people who have campaigned and spoken up for those who are often forgotten or left out by society.

The online SEND community can be an incredibly educating and supportive place, one that really helps families realise that they’re not alone. Often, in the early stages after a diagnosis, it can feel like you’re the only family who is going through those circumstances.

Discovering others who are living a life similar to your own is so powerful, and so life changing. That comes from the hard work that SEND bloggers and content creators put in each and every day. Using some of their precious free time to write a post or record a video. To reply to comments and messages, offering advice and support to others, for no reason other than wanting to help.

The BAPS Awards recognise all of that hard work, the valuable contribution that SEND bloggers make and brings us together to celebrate those efforts.  

Nominate now!

The nominations are now open for this year’s awards, and as well as SEND bloggers there are also extra categories for organisations, education and parents who don’t blog too, who all deserve to be recognised within the SEND community.

The BAPS Awards have really given me some very special moments and introduced me to so many new friends over the last five years, it’s an honour to now be the first Awards Ambassador. I can’t wait to share more with you as we get closer to the event.

Go get nominating!

The BAPS Awards

The BAPs (Bloody Awesome Parents) Awards allows SEND bloggers to be recognised for their talents, tales and achievements. Founded by Bringing Us Together and My Family, Our Needs, these awards celebrate SEND Bloggers everywhere. Click here to find out more…

The BAPs (Bloody Awesome Parents) Awards allows SEND bloggers to be recognised for their talents, tales and achievements. Founded by Bringing Us Together and My Family, Our Needs, these awards celebrate SEND Bloggers everywhere.  Click here to find out more...