As the QVC birthday rapidly approaches, the year that I am looking back on today, October 2012 – October 2013, is personally one I am particularly proud of. After a fair bit of negotiating, I signed a deal with one of the biggest and best known publishing companies, Random House, for my memoir entitled One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, which was to be sold, initially exclusively, on QVC. I had written the book over the previous eighteen months and was thrilled that QVC were so supportive.
Once the deal was signed, the cover photography needed to be done, so I immediately turned to Kathy Taylor’s husband, Ollie, as I’m such a huge admirer of his work. The back cover of the book was actually taken by my ‘fiance’, Chris (still no wedding plans yet, but it will be next year) and is of me sitting on the edge of the pool of the house we used to own in Spain, where the idea for the book originated. Big thanks to QVC ‘tech’ guest Matt Trim for the loan of a very good camera and setting it up so that Chris could just point and shoot.
Around the time that all this was happening, QVC gained two new presenters. Chloe Everton joined in November, followed three weeks later by Jackie Kabler. Later in 2013, Anna Cookson, Carmel Thomas, Julian Ballantyne and Debbie Greenwood all left QVC and we gained another new presenter, Marverine Cole, who only stayed with us a couple of years.
In February 2013, prior to publication in March, I had to go to Random House’s distribution warehouse in Essex to sign all 5000 copies of the book that QVC had ordered. It was a very daunting moment walking into a room with that many books awaiting your signature and although it took two full days, I must say it was a very well-oiled machine.
It was also quite sobering when they showed me the ‘pulping’ machine, where all books that are not sold end up! I am so pleased that none of mine ended up in that machine! We first sold it on the Morning Show with Simon Biagi and it was a surreal experience for me being a guest rather than a presenter.
A different Simon, Simon Wilson, organised my book launch party. Well, I say party – we ended up having to have more than one at his shop on Fulham Road, as so many people wanted to come. He surprised me with this amazing cake – it was such a shame to cut into it! (apologies for the quality of the photo).
I was donating a percentage of the profits from my book to British Polio Fellowship and Rotary International’s ‘End Polio Now’ campaign, but QVC had a great idea to raise even more money for British Polio and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (one of our nominated charities that year). It was suggested that I should swim a hundred lengths of the pool as part of a charity swimming gala, the trouble was that the chosen pool was more than double the length of the one I was used to!!
It was brilliant that QVC worked so closely with both charities to produce an event that raised a lot of money and I’m forever grateful to former Crystal Palace footballers John Salako and Geoff Thomas (Geoff also had Chronic Myeloid Leaukaemia) and paralympic silver medalist swimmer James Crisp (a fellow Polio survivor) for taking part on the day.
Well-known sports radio commentator, Bob Ballard, hosted the event and my friend Natalie Gray filmed it – there is a YouTube video if you want to check it out…
I was also delighted with the support shown by QVC newcomer Chloe Everton, my old pal Debbie Flint and lots of the backstage crew from QVC. Afterwards, people were saying ‘can we do it again next year?’ Maybe it’s time for a repeat performance?
The gala was in July, and in September, we celebrated QVC’s 20th Anniversary with two tea parties, one in London and one in Liverpool, where our warehouses and call centre are located. I’ve always loved meeting customers at events, but it was particularly special on our 20th anniversary meeting some people who had been with us right from the start. The photo was taken at the London event, where I was wearing a Butler & Wilson dress, but sadly I can’t seem to locate any Liverpool photos, which is a real shame as there was a Beatles tribute band playing and they were fabulous.
So, back to the present day and I wonder if any of you have been spending to earn your QVC vouchers yet? There’s lots of fabulous opportunities over this coming Bank Holiday weekend, as there is a four day bank holiday event which has kicked off with the Alpha H TSV.
Other brands to look out for today are The Camouflage Company with me at 3pm, Lola Rose at 7pm with Debs and Molton Brown at 10pm. Tomorrow, as well as the Lab Pro TSV for eyes and lips, there is Coco Bianco fashion and Yankee Candle, and of course, lots of gardening, as there is on Sunday too.
An update on my injury: if you read my last blog (published Wednesday), you’ll know that I fell over on holiday. The good news is that the stitches came out yesterday and the big wound is healing nicely – Tuesday should be my last visit to the doctor’s – fingers crossed.
Have a fabulous, hopefully sunny and warm, Bank Holiday weekend and you never know, I may even be showing you pictures of my new kitchen on here next week.