I cannot express how I'm feeling right now! Well, the secret has been let out of the bag. On Wednesday, 16th November 2022, it was just an ordinary blustery Autumn's day in Cardiff. Still, for me, this was undoubtedly no typical day as I, along with my publisher Clare Thomas were invited down to the home of the Welsh Parliament, The Senedd, by Laura Ann Jones (MS) for South East Wales as VIPs for a personal meeting with her to discuss helping promote my children's book Max And The Magic Wish to schools in Wales. Of course, this could not have happened without the help of incredibly lovely Katharine Skellon and Lyndon Price, the owners of Sudol Media, a Media, PR and Social Media company.
Please go and check their website:- www.sudol.co.uk.
So, let's start by rewinding to the evening before when we all received an email from one of Laura's staff letting us know that there would be a high-profile VIP present at The Senedd at the same time as our visit. Yes, someone even more important than us, lol. So we were all asked to provide identification to ensure we were who we said we were, I guess? Luckily, we were all deemed legit. So, Clare and I travelled to The Senedd together, where we arranged to meet Katharine and Lyndon at the entrance of the building. But, as we arrived in Cardiff, we noticed a much higher level of security present than it would typically be. So, we drove to the location where we were asked to park in an accessible parking area, where the car was stringently checked over before we were escorted by security to our parking space and then into a lift. This was when we asked who the high-profile VIP visitor was, and it was at this moment we were loosely informed that Prince William, The Prince of Wales, was present in the building. Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet him in person, but to be in the same building as a Royal, was an exciting feeling nevertheless.
As we entered The Senedd via the Ty Hywel offices because the main entrance was closed, we endured further tight security checks by being asked to walk through airport-style walk-through metal detectors. However, all four of us were granted access with no hassle. We were then met by a Senedd Tour guide who was requested to escort us all day. Firstly we were taken to the member's tea room, where Laura Ann Jones and her Assistant were already waiting to meet us. They were both lovely and accommodating, and our scheduled meeting lasted around half an hour. Laura welcomed each one of us before we then sat around a table to discuss ways on how we can get my children's book Max And The Magic Wish out to schools in Wales to help to make a difference in the lives of children not only with cerebral palsy but all kinds of disabilities. I believe that having resources like Max And The Magic Wish in our Welsh schools will add to the amount of disability awareness we need to get out there to change lives and also the mindsets of everyone by educating people that it's perfectly ok to be different. Because of my speech impediment. I even got to play a pre-recorded speech to Laura, which I had previously recorded using my AAC Communication aid. She was so patient and engaged. She listened to my every word. I am glad to report that the entire meeting went well and was constructive.
Laura says, 'I absolutely adore the book. It is so brilliant and sends a lovely message. Gavin is very talented.'
After our meeting, we were all treated to a guided tour behind the scenes and to areas of The Senedd that members of the public don't get to go to. It was fascinating to hear about various traits of the everyday workings of the Welsh Parliament. Including the debating chamber where our Welsh parties discuss and debate everything surrounding policies not only here in Wales but at the UK Government. During our tour of the areas where the general public doesn't have access, and in one place, The Senedd Staff Canteen, we were lucky enough to bump into and get a chance to hand copies of Max And The Magic Wish and chat with a few ministers, such as Jeremy Miles, The Welsh Education Minister and RT Davies, The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives. Again, we had some constructive conversations about my children's book and disability in Wales in general. Then, to finish our visit, we were given tickets to watch the Plenary, the chamber where ministers debate. Unfortunately, we were given strict orders not to film anything or take photos, but I'll leave you with a picture of an empty chamber.
I want to say a big THANK YOU to my wonderful publisher Clare Thomas for being by my side every step of this incredible journey, and to Katherine Skellon & Lyndon Price of Sudol Media for their tremendous support and organising our visit! Clare and I are so grateful to you and loved every minute! Also, for all your Public Relations, Communications and Social Media services. These guys are the best! Get in touch with them today!
Lastly, I want to thank Laura Ann Jones for listening to my story, concerns and aspirations for a more accepting and accessible Wales. I hope we can meet again sometime to make things work and make our Welsh society as inclusive as possible, not only in the present but for future generations.
My children's book Max And The Magic Wish, which represents my true story about disability and acceptance, is available to order from Amazon.
The Disabled Writer