Up & Down in a Day

Onesta Journal

Up & Down in a Day

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4:30, my alarm goes off to begin the trip to COP26. Let’s be clear, in no way am I a morning person and it was going to be a long day but let’s set the scene first… 


We were invited to COP26 three weeks prior to attend an Award Ceremony as Onesta was selected as a finalist for the ‘Hero’s of Net Zero’ Award. It was already going to be a busy week due to the team being in London for the Spirit of Christmas event but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, could I? 


I was able to bring one guest with me, and a bit of deliberation took place but in the end it was decided Hazel, our Creative Consultant, would join me. Hazel has been a vegetarian since she was a young girl after her school lesson tried to make her dissect a frog. Well, she does not do anything she disagrees with and climate change, animal welfare and human rights is absolutely critical in her eyes. 


Weeks fly by as we’re busy organising for the fair and then the email drops. BAM. I’ve been invited to speak in a panel discussion! To say I was taken back initially would be an understatement, especially when I found out the panel would also be including MPs, Directors from the UN and other C-suit Executives. I will share with you all that I was feeling pretty nervous, but I knew that this was a really important discussion about businesses and governments working together to tackle climate change and it was important that I was able to represent smaller companies.  


So as I said, 4:30, BEEP BEEP BEEP and I’m awake(ish). Trying to get ready in the dark whilst not disturbing the rest of the team was hard and Hazel didn’t have great company on the train as I hibernated under my coat and managed to get a bit of sleep. Thankfully, I made sure I packed concealer and blusher which I smothered on in the train bathroom to make myself look somewhat presentable! 


Rolling in, the event was organised chaos – there were so many stands and events, panels and speakers all sharing exciting and innovative initiatives to tackle climate change. You really want to stop and listen at every exhibition stand, but (as usual) I was in a rush and already late for our awards ceremony. Every time we’re a finalist for something it still overwhelms me to know that people are recognising us for our effort and values. Out of 160 businesses that applied, we had been selected for taking innovative actions to become a net zero business by 2050 – can you imagine! In our category, I was incredibly honoured that Onesta came second and was Highly Commended. The winner was Design Able, for their  Helloface® Transparent Medical Face Mask a revolutionary innovation aimed at protecting people, without breaking the channel of communication. My mum is extremely hard of hearing, and I also suffer too, so this face-mask design that helped people with accessibility needs was a well deserved winner in my opinion 


Finally, we had some time to spare. Key leaders were there amongst us to discuss policy change and I was determined to talk to as many as possible, and talk I did. After all, our Marketing Director had not run across London to get me new business cards for them to sit in my bag. Kind of didn’t want to leave when it came time to sit on my panel. I’m glad I did though. The panel was titled Supporting Credible Climate Action and I LOVED IT. It was really interesting to discuss the difference that small businesses are making versus huge corporations like GlaxoSmithKline. It is absolutely critical that we all work together to do our bit. Glaxo being so huge can make a massive difference, however being so small, us small businesses can be much more nimble. Claire Lund described the difference as a super tanker and a yacht, and it can be a lot harder to turn a super tanker around versus a yacht, and they are much slower but we are all on the same path. When it came time to leave COP26 and re-join the team in London I. kind of wished i’d been up there for longer but you’ve got to remember that there’ll be more opportunities in the future. 


Erg - trains! So, we knew the last train was 18.40 and we had to get it, otherwise finding a hotel in Glasgow would have been an absolute nightmare and cost a fortune. Fortunately we arrived on time, got to the train, sat down and settled in for the journey back. Something didn’t feel quite right though. Looking around the train it didn’t feel right. We all know the subtle differences between a local and cross country service but Hazel had read the board so we must be on the correct one right? 




After I couldn’t get my mind to settle off the idea we were on the wrong train, we caved and rechecked. And luckily we did! We’d been sat on a train destined for Paisley Scotland for the past 15 minutes! The last service to London was departing in 2 minutes and we were at the wrong end of the platform. I ran as if I still had my pre-lockdown fitness level but although it a slightly panic state made it in the nick of time. The day was then, finally over, and we were heading back down to London.  


- Gabriella