Well hellooooooo! Here we are, out the other side of one of the most memorable weeks of my life!! Thanks to so many of you for your best wishes, and kind comments – I did manage to read through quite a number of them before my first foray onto the catwalk, and they definitely helped allay my nerves 🙂
The last seven days have sort of melded into one, and I think I'm only just coming down to earth! 🙂 Of course this day last week I was back at the This Morning studios, stepping out onto their mini catwalk to model a VERY pink dress!
Meeting Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby was great, and the whole experience was a pleasure because our Amica was there, and also Dee (one of the other BCC models). I then had to hurtle back to QVC for my afternoon shows, before racing to Marble Arch where I checked into a very lovely hotel.
That evening a special meal had been arranged for myself and the other 23 models who I'd be spending Wednesday with, and I have to say we all got on famously. It wasn't a late night, as we had to be at The Grosvenor for 8.30am, but I was sharing a room with Selina – one of the youngest models – and we chatted on until at least midnight!
I took this photo of the Great Room when we first arrived on Wednesday, because it was incredible to see them create the stage and set all the tables ready for the afternoon guests who were arriving at 1.30pm! While they were beavering away, we 'models' were having our hair and make-up done by the experts, before our one and only rehearsal, which was a hoot with us all herded on stage together!
We were then allocated a dresser – mine was called Billy, and he was a sweetheart – as with four costume changes I definitely needed the help! Joe McElderry sang his lungs out, and then it was our turn. Standing in the wings in my killer heels and fishnet tights waiting to go on, my legs felt like jelly, but the incredible roar from the crowd and deafening applause carried us all up and out there!
My lovely editor Bry, Debbie Flint and Will Gowing were in the audience, along with the lucky QVC viewers who'd won our competiton, but I couldn't see them, and so inspite of the overwhelming response from everyone in the room, it wasn't until the evening show that I was able to relax more and enjoy…
To be honest, spending so much time with the other models was quite emotional as we talked about our lives, diagnosis, treatment, and current situations. After the afternoon show, I had a tiny window of opportunity and so raced back to the hotel to see Colin for a much needed cuddle 🙂
He then brought me back to The Grosvenor where we caught up with Jack and Sam all dressed up and looking fabulous. Here they are with my Aunty Edna, who has been an incredible support to me over the last 18 months, and had travelled many miles for this very special night.
While they, Lucy and all my lovely friends and colleagues quaffed champagne and settled into the evening, we models had our own little dinner party (with a glass of champagne) and watched the proceedings from the balcony above The Great Room.
Geri Haliwell provided the entertainment and then Debbie Greenwood made an incredible and emotional speech which had me and several of the other girls in tears… luckily the make-up team were on hand with extra mascara and make-up and within minutes we were once again waiting in the wings for 'our moment'!
I was with one of our male models Doug and also Lily, and we were the last to 'strut our stuff', but this time I could see everyone I loved at the very bottom of the catwalk, and set off at quite a pace!!
The Show featured seven different themes, and I was in four of them – the first being Biker Chic – hence the leather! 🙂 The mini dress was a tad short, but I loved the jacket, and the boots were my own, so I found it easy to walk in them…
My second outfit was a Stella McCartney dress in blue for our Jubilee event, and I had a pretty little hat and low heels. Third was an amazingly bright print hand-stitched dress for our African theme, and finally I was zipped into a rich red Biba evening dress for the Rainbow Finale… at which point I have to mention the dashingly handsome young male model I got to walk arm in arm with!! His name was Sam, and he told me I was beautiful… ahhhhh bless him 🙂
Standing in line with my compatriots while the audience stood and applauded us was quite simply unbelievable, but for me it was stepping out to receive my flowers and make that final trip down the catwalk when the enormity of the occasion hit me.
If not for the cancer I would never have experienced this, never have met such incredibly brave and wonderful people, or felt so loved… all those months when I had struggled with my treatment, and lived with the fear of losing the fight were behind me, and in front of me I could see some of the people I love most in the world… Colin, my children, my family and my dear friends.
Infact the only people 'physically' missing were you, although I knew as always, you were there holding my hand… there are moments we will remember all our lives, and this was one of them for me. Thank you so much for helping me get here…
With my love, Ali xxx
Some images shown have been provided by Getty images