The process opens twice a year in April and in October and applicants can apply either by Phone or via Email. There are other methods in place for those who are unable to access Email or the Telephone.
I had already tried to apply in October 2013 however as this was my first time I was unprepared for how quickly the places would go.... I'd rung around midday as far as I can remember and, as we shall see, this was much too late to have even a smidgeon of a chance of being successful!
Fore-armed with the knowledge gained after my previous (admittedly ill-prepared and doomed) attempt at getting on the initial list I was better prepared this time around. I revived my original email that I'd sent in October and updated it slightly and left the email open and ready to send (saved of course... I work in I.T. and know only too well the agonies of unsaved work!)
Just before 9am this morning I had my phone fully charged, my widget (a Nokia LPS-5 Bluetooth loopset) fully charged and connected to my phone and the phone pre-dialled and ready to go.
Fingers poised over phone and mouse button I clicked send and pressed dial as 9am arrived. In case the Email was doomed I then rang the applications phone number to be doubly sure and spent the next 18 minutes pressing redial... constantly... I've never used redial that much in my life I'm sure... (it later turned out that I'd dialled 94 times before finally getting through). After finally getting through I got through to 'reception' and they spent about 5 minutes trying to get me through to an adviser all of which were engaged... Needless to say I was very tense at this point!
I finally got through to one of the advisors to discover that all the phone places had gone so I asked what happens with the emailed requests which apparently get read in the afternoon. Eeek, more waiting, more tension...