Don’t Forget The Thanks

Wow! What else can I say? Today Tate Britain was completely transformed!
Hundreds of people, some with and some without Tourettes came together to get creative, socialise and reinvent the Gallery spaces as part of We Forgot The Lot! – our big inclusive event for children and young people. We’d been working on it with the Tate’s Schools and Teachers team for almost a year, so seeing everything we’d talked about and carefully planned all come together on the day was incredible.

I’ve never felt so calm during an event as I did today, and this was mainly because of the fantastic team of people who were making it all happen. The rest of this post will be given over to thanking all of them.

Leftwing Idiot features a lot in this blog, and I’m usually describing how he’s supported me, made me cross, or laughed with me. Our friendship’s at the heart of Touretteshero, but his contribution goes way beyond that. I often jokingly describe Leftwing Idiot as a visionary, and that really is the best way to describe his role. It was Leftwing Idiot who saw the creative potential of my tics, who patiently helped me see them as my power, and who time and again comes up with amazing ideas that we make happen together. The inspiration for We Forgot The Lot! came from him, and he’s worked tirelessly to make it a success.

Leanne, Alice, Lizzie and Mel from Tate’s Schools and Teachers Team have been our incredible partners. Leanne was the person we first approached with the idea of doing a Touretteshero event in the gallery, and I feel sure it was her support of the idea that gave it wings. Mel was responsible for lots of the early work that gave it such a solid grounding. Alice came on board in January and pushed things forward just when things were starting to snowball. Lizzie’s organisation and level-headedness kept us on track – I don’t think there was anything I could’ve asked her about this event that she didn’t know the answer to. It’s been an absolute pleasure building such a strong collaborative relationship, and Leftwing Idiot and I have learned a great deal in the process.

The whole Tate Schools and Teachers Team have been involved in making We Forgot The Lot! happen. Every artist had a dedicated link-person at Tate who knew their project in detail and made sure they had everything they needed. Thank you all for your openness and enthusiasm, and for helping to make such a diverse range of activities and projects happen.

The amazing bookings team were the first point of contact for anyone signing up for the event. They understood that for some families, coming to an event like this could be quite a daunting experience, and a lot of thought went into making the process smooth, and making sure they could answer every conceivable question. The bookings team ensured that all 330 people who booked places had the information they needed, and I know their approach was really appreciated by many families. Thank you.

Renata’s Tate’s Information Manager and she coordinated staff from pretty much every department – Visitor Experience, Security, Catering, and the Shop – for training sessions on Tourettes, disability and inclusion, before the big day. I gave five training sessions at Tate Britain and Tate Modern to ensure everyone understood Tourettes and knew the importance of this event.

The Visitor Experience Team supervises the galleries and helps visitors enjoy them. Their open and welcoming approach was key to making today a success. It was fantastic knowing they were fully behind the event and fully focused on ensuring everyone had a great time. Special thanks to Valda who donned her uniform for a slightly different role today: Her performance, developed with artist Phoebe Davies, was a real talking point. Big thanks also to Lois, today’s Duty Manager, who kept everything running smoothly.

The Security Team are fantastic. It’s their job to look after the paintings and sculptures on display and make sure nothing gets damaged (one of our biggest fears!) I was touched by their support and encouragement when I went to their morning briefing before the gallery opened. After I’d finished explaining how the day would work they told me how on board they were, and knowing this made me feel really relaxed. People with Tourettes sometimes attract unwelcome attention from security guards, but I left their briefing confident that the experience of people ticcing in the Tate would be very different.

The Shop, Café and Cleaning Teams all met with us before the event and made sure that everyone in their team was prepared for We Forgot The Lot. Thank you all so much. Special thanks to the shop staff, who stocked my book Welcome to Biscuit Land at incredibly short notice.

The Artists – Adam, Chris, Hannah, Harold, Jenny, Judith, Katie, Keir, Matt, Phoebe and Shaun: thank you all for creating such interesting and varied projects and making them happen. It was fantastic seeing the variety of activities on offer today. Some were dramatic, while others were much more subtle. More about all this later.

The Volunteers – Thanks to the team of volunteers who helped make sure everyone had a great time – particularly to the eight young people who worked tirelessly all day.

Nous Vous created the design that went on the flyer, t-shirt, wristband and programme – it couldn’t have been more perfect and fitting for the event. I’m definitely looking forward to getting a copy of the programme up on my bedroom wall.

The Photography Team were busy capturing every aspect of today’s event. They came from The Shop, Sam Robinson’s fantastic studio. Sam couldn’t be with us today but Amy, Emily, Susie and Will were, and I’m really looking forward to re-living lots of today’s wonderful moments through their images.

Dr Tara Murphy, there wasn’t a moment today when you weren’t surrounded by parents, carers and children asking you questions. Thank you for being so generous with your time and expertise, and for creating such invaluable opportunities for discussion.

Verity was our British Sign Language interpreter. She helped welcome people, answered questions throughout, and signed the final event when everyone came together to share their experiences. Big thanks to you Verity – I really hope you’ll be able to join us for future events.

Daytrippers have supported Touretteshero every step of the way. They funded our first event back in 2010 and it felt absolutely right that they were with us again today. By funding all the buses that brought people from outside London to the event, they enabled loads of families to be with us who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make it. They also funded the playworkers who were on hand to give a bit of extra support to any child who needed it. Thanks again to everyone at Daytrippers for supporting yet another memorable event.

Leftwing Idiot’s mum and dad – thanks once again for all your help. Whatever the task, we knew we could always count on you.

Catherine, Emma, Rachel and Ruth co-ordinated the buses which came from Nuneaton, Southampton, Brighton and Nottingham. Thank you all for making sure everybody got to and from the event. Special thanks to Catherine for calmly dealing with a broken-down bus and a driver who took them to the wrong place!

Tourettes Action helped spread the word about the event, and shared information through their newsletter, website and at one of their events.

To Every Child and Family who came and got stuck in, thank you. It was your energy, creativity and imagination that lit up the day and transformed the Tate.

To anyone whose contribution isn’t on this list, a big thank-you too. We Forgot The Lot! was a day shaped by the enthusiasm, hard work and generosity of a great many people. The result was that nothing got forgotten and it was a glorious day full of laughter and community.

Stand by for a blow-by-blow account soon. Hopefully I’ll have some photos to show you too!