Who wouldn’t want to go to Kinsale? A beautiful Irish harbour town, cuddling the sea. With great seafood, amazing views, and cosy pubs. So, when I was asked to go and judge the Kinsale Sharks, of course, I said yes.

It also happened to be a great way to catch up on all the brilliant work I missed last year while I was messing about having a baby.

To outsiders, it must seem totally bonkers to have awards for adverts (to be honest the whole industry probably looks bonkers to outsiders). But Kinsale is more than just a platform to show off the best work. It offers inspiration, creates an industry standard, and most of all, gets everyone together for a chat and debate over a Guinness or two.

The amount of time and effort that goes into a 30 second spot, a 48 sheet or even a social post still astonishes me. Slaving over a tiny detail, working until 4am to make sure it’s perfect. From the moment the idea is born to the final finishing touches, lots of love goes into adverts, even more so into the ones that are award-winning.

So, there I was, sitting in a room for six hours staring at a screen, looking for things that made me think “I wish I’d made that” or something different that really stood out.

There was the good, the bad, and the “I have no idea what that even is”. There was work that saved lives, work that made me laugh, and work that made me sad. At one point I had to go and sit in the toilet for 5 minutes until the tears stopped.

The organisers are passionate about the festival and for good reason. There were excellent talks and exciting pub conversations about the future of print, #metoo, and the benefits of fencing (the kind you do with swords!). Also, if you are lucky enough to win one, the trophy is the coolest in advertising. Most of all I was struck by how wonderful, kind, and interesting people in our industry are.

Next year anyone?