Weekly musings

 

Forget Mariah Carey or Diana Ross, this week I have been a right old diva myself and I don’t mean my usual stroppy manner! No, last week I had the privilege of helping to turn on the Christmas lights for Plymouth. It is something, as part of my work for ITV, that I have had the joy of doing many times over the years and it is something I look forward to so that at least once year I can pretend I am a pop star! The crowds start to fill the street in front of the main stage on Royal Parade from early afternoon and with plenty of warming up done by some excellent local choirs and theatre groups, by the time I grace the stage with my camera crew the crowds are well and truly excited and it takes a simple “Hello Plymouth” into the microphone for the crowds to go and wild and scream. It is without doubt the craziest experience but enormous fun too. I must confess to a little nervousness on these nights due to having to be live on TV and live on stage at the same time and trying to hear my director in my earpiece along with trying to sound vaguely intelligent at the same time. Whilst if I make a mistake on TV I can convince myself,most of the time, that no one was really watching but live on stage in front of thousands you can be sure there is only one place and one idiot they are watching! Thankfully all went to plan and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself but it was only because of those I was joined on stage by, ready to plunge the plunger and turn on the lights. Usually Christmas lights are turned on my some Z list celeb that may have been in the jungle and have some sort of X Factor but this year Plymouth decided to keep it real and have local heroes to do the honours. The two young men that had that honour were Henry Hallam and Noah Evans. Henry is six years old and for most of his young life has been battling neuroblastoma. He has gone through such horrendous procedures in such a short life but yet here he was with me, happy, smiling and giving me the most gorgeous hug at the end. He is now doing well, health wise, and his Mum, who was the driving force behind the charity Hugs for Henry told me that they now wanted to let Henry be a little boy for awhile and have changed the charity to Hugs from Henry to help raise funds and awareness for the disease and the treatments on offer. Noah is ten years old and has been living with a congenital heart defect all his life and has also had to have some awful operations and procedures but Noah doesn’t let it get him down; instead he is always thinking of others and raising money for charity. Two more inspirational men you couldn’t hope to find both with equally awesome Mums with them. I was truly honoured to share the stage with them and after the big countdown from ten they duly lit up the night sky with some beautiful lights to herald the start of Christmas. It made the event so much more special than if it had been some random celebrity.
When meeting such families though it does of course make you so grateful for the fact that your own are fit and healthy and I touch every piece of wood going when I say I have been most fortunate in regards to my own children. It is also humbling and makes you realise that sometimes we moan and groan over the silly stuff and don’t perhaps always appreciate how lucky we are to be in reasonable health. Yes the bones ache and creak and the odd thing falls apart and crumbles from time to time but at least we’ve reached a ripe age rather than being only 6 years old and for half your lifetime been seriously ill.
Just up the road Exeter turned their lights on and this time the firefighters who battled the blaze at the Royal Clarence were on the stage alongside my friend and colleague Seth Conway. Perhaps this is a trend starting and in future the lights will always be turned on by true heroes and people we want to look up to rather than those that are paid to be there or have a record or TV show to promote? Here’s hoping and here’s the big Christmas countdown. The lights are on and the TV adverts are in full swing, the Christmas goodies are lining the shelves and I for one cannot wait till Christmas to tuck in to the Yule Log; so I just won’t….and haven’t….empty packet in the bin….now have to buy another one for Christmas! 
 

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