This has inspired me, Julia and Alison to do the same – and some of our mums and daughters will be joining us on air for our Get Gorgeous Event on Friday 14th – Sunday 16th May.
Me, my Mummy and QVC
I think Mummy loves it when I've done beauty shows and I then boss her about telling her what she should and shouldn't be using. She pretends not to take much notice, but the requests for, well for example, Liz Earle's Superskin Moisturiser proves she is listening after all!
Actually I get my passion for big, bold, beautiful rings from her and I think she's always hoping to borrow the divine jewellery I now own… but to forget to return it!! Pay back for all the years I pinched hers!
How my Mummy has inspired me
There's no doubt that my Mummy's incredible inner strength has been and is an inspiration to me. The hardest words she had to say to me were when she told me that Daddy had cancer. I was 13 and my brothers were 15 and 17-years-old.
When I asked her if he would get better, she took a breath and answered me honestly (which to this day I am so very grateful for) "No… Daddy will not get better". She was 39 and Daddy just 40 years old. Now I am all grown up and have indeed outlived my Daddy, I realise just how desperate she must have felt saying that to her children, being powerless and yet shattering our lives with those words.
I can recall the amazing strength and dignity she displayed during that hideous time, whilst trying so hard to retain a semblance of normality for us. She supported Daddy and us during a time of such pain for her. She selflessly ensured we were coping, always allowing our grief and questions to be the most important and pushing her own to the side.
Helping me at every step
In 1999 when Dan and I were married, I was so so sad not to have my Daddy walk me down the aisle but the pride I felt as the person who had been both Mother and Father to me gave me away that day was immense.
In 2001 when Tom was born with Down's Syndrome and I was utterly overwhelmed with grief, Mummy displayed that same strength and put to one side her own sadness as naturally she supported me, her baby girl. All she wanted to do was make it better… a mother's instinct and yet once again she was powerless to do that for me. What she did do was love Tom immediately… which really mattered.
She loved me and gave me the confidence and strength to be the best Mummy I can be to Tom, she reminded me that there's no such word as Can't. So yes, I fulfilled a need to breastfeed, when many around me said…You Can't! Mummy showed me when I was 13 that you pin on the smile and you will survive. Life hasn't been easy for her and I'm proud of her, my lovely Mummy.
How my Mummy has encouraged me
Do you know she never pushed nor dissuaded me to become a dancer or indeed be in this profession. I think early on she realised (actually I think she was told!) that I was destined for a career on the stage.
I'm qualified to teach dance, though it was so long ago I suspect I'd have to retrain if ever I decided on a change of direction! That was her doing - imagine, as a head teacher she must have been totally panic stricken that her daughter was embarking on such a precarious career!! Still I'm still here, so the something to fall back on part has been redundant luckily!
I remember after Daddy died she took another job in the evenings to allow Mark, Neil and especially me, I guess, to continue with all our extra and costly hobbies – ballet, tap, modern etc, which didn't come cheap of course! I'm so grateful for that.
I find it amusing that people used to tell me my voice would be my fortune… I'm still waiting!! Though I guess being on QVC it kind of is. but I remember totally annoying the elocution teachers in Rochdale as every year I entered the Speech and Drama Festival and we'd practise the pieces in the lounge.
It would be read to me by Mummy and I then copied word for word how she had read it and fabulously I won each year! How funny that she was such a great teacher all those years ago preparing me, if you like, for QVC!
And now my Mummy on me…
On goes the make-up, hair is washed and the big smile is fixed in place and nobody would know things were not good… except perhaps me!
Why does she like her job at QVC?
Claire is very good at chatting to anyone and everyone, in fact she just loves chatting! I guess that is why she loves her job as it gives her the opportunity to talk – endlessly! Perhaps QVC gives her the 'stage' she loves. I think she likes the variety of the products and the people she meets, be they presenters, guests, buyers, staff or the crew.
She's lucky to have a job which enables her to be a Mummy part of the week and a presenter the other.
I know she loves to try out the products herself and sometimes I am allowed to do that too!
How does Claire inspire me?
What comes immediately to mind is her attitude to her gorgeous little boy, my grandson Tom, who has Down's Syndrome. Tom's arrival into the world was a bit of a shock for us all, we had no idea of the problems ahead.
It was in fact Claire herself who noticed that something was not right, from the moment he was first handed to her, though at the time the doctor's comment was that he just had a little screwed-up face, but she knew – call it Mother's intuition.
People have asked me since if she initially rejected him. No she didn't, not for one second and at the time it had not occurred to me that she might. We shed tears together of course, more because of our ignorance as to how we would cope than anything else. We should not have done so. Tom is a joy, tricky at times, but so lovely too. I know Claire and Dan are apprehensive about his future but they sensibly take one day at a time.
Tom was in Special Care for some weeks and he would not breastfeed. Claire badly wanted to feed him and so day after day she persevered, but he was not having it. As time went on, the nurses were keen to put him on a bottle but no – Claire continued to try and try and try, meanwhile expressing milk for him. At last he got the message and fed beautifully. Claire's perseverance had paid off and the joy it brought her was immeasurable.
The career she chose has been tough at times, in the early days many auditions brought rejections (and many successes too). Somehow she managed to bounce back and go off for the next one – I think I might have felt like giving up but that isn't an option for Claire!
I have always felt that word 'can't' doesn't exist and I think Claire feels that too. I am very proud of her.