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Presenting: The good, the bad and the ugly … Comments

I love presenting and can’t describe the feeling in words it gives you. Standing up in front of a crowd with everyone watching and listening to you. Being one of three daughters meant I always had to be the loud one to be noticed, so hundreds or thousands of people watching you be the centre of attention is a priceless experience, and one that everyone should try at least once in their life.

The nerves you get before you open your mouth should be bottled up and sold as a legal high. Your legs start to shake and your heart rate picks up as you walk to the centre of the stage. I’m getting tingles all over just thinking of the moment before I look out and open my mouth.

I don’t do drugs but this is the closest that I will get to the feeling of being high. When you get off the stage and you’ve nailed it, you just want to high five everyone. I may be guilty of the odd fist pump after an appearance, she says wincing.

I’ve had some amazing jobs presenting. I’ve shared the stage with celebrities such as Jake Wood AKA Max Branning, co presented with Fiona Bruce and presented for international brands such as Gore-Tex and GlaxoSmithKline.

Don’t get me wrong there have been moments that I’ve wanted to walk off crying, but you’ve got to keep smiling and hold it together until you’ve taken that last step off the stage.

Luckily I’ve only left the stage once wanting to cry after someone took it upon themselves to destroy me publicly because it gave them a good reaction from the audience. Being a target in front of hundreds of people is sole destroying and I cried the whole way home thinking I never wanted to present ever again. My ego crushed and my confidence in tatters.

I got over it a week later but getting back on the stage filled me with dread that next week. I just told myself that we all have a bad days at the office and that the stage was my office. As it happened the next gig was epic and I selfishly lapped up the positive attention of doing a good job.

This experience makes me really synaptic to anyone being victimised so publicly. Ok so it’s happened to me once but being a presenter or celebrity means that you’re fully allowed to be humiliated and put down anytime, by anyone, for any reason. Most of the public seem to think it’s ok to call out or write unkind comments on social media like they’re never going to be seen by anyone other than their mates. Obviously it’s ok to have a bit of a joke, we all need to have a sense of humour, but not when it becomes a personal attack. That’s the step too far.

Last week Fortnum and Mason held a food and drink award ceremony hosted by Claudia Winkleman. Its F&M way of thanking all of their amazing suppliers; after all F&M do sell some pretty amazing food and drink. (Edible glitter covered shortbread should be on your list to try before you die.)

Well the long and short to this story is that they published the photos live it seemed, onto Instagram as the ceremony took place. There amongst the kind and well thought out messages were some pretty vile comments. I couldn’t believe how many people were being so critical, judgemental and darn right rude. There were some very personal attacks on everyone from Claudia Winkleman the host to the CEO of F&M Ewan Venters.

I couldn’t understand why people felt the need to comment with those negative words when their victims were so obviously going to read them? This event was meant to be about celebration not negativity. These unkind words really seemed to dampen the event on Instagram and really undermine what F&M were trying to achieve. The comments about the CEOs appearance have vanished but the Claudia ones remain.

I like to think that Claudia Winkleman as a professional probably just shrugged her comments off, but they still must have hurt. I now wonder if those words effected her like they did to me at her next gig? She is human after all.

I couldn’t stand there reading the comments without feeling the need to comment back. I hate bullies.

No one commented after my words or took the opportunity to withdraw their comments.

I did receive a private message a day later from Fortnum and Mason.

It was nice to know my sentiments were gratefully received and it made me selfishly feel good for a while and I hoped that Claudia had read them too, so she knew not everyone shared their vile views. I didn’t feel the need to sympathise as a fellow presenter. Just pointing out comments of that kind were not required and weren’t true was my way of silencing the bullies and it work.

I know this isn’t an isolated case and thousands of “trolls” spread vile words daily but we must all stop and think before we comment. Whether you’re commenting on social media or face to face, it’s not on. You wouldn’t stand for it at your office or workplace so why should we?

That’s when the wise words of “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, then don’t say it at all”.

I hope next time people remember that there is a person inside that celebrity or personality and that they are just doing a job.

So next time you’re on a social media page or at a gig – think before they comment.

Domino’s Urban Rider Games the reason why?

The Domino’s Urban Riders Games – I get asked a lot why we put on events at the ATBShop Warehouse, when they so obviously fail to make any money?

My reply: ”Sometimes it’s not about the money.” – Cliché?

Stuart and I both own and manage ATBShop and ATBShop Skate Warehouse. We haven’t any biological children but owning a unique business like ATB’ makes us feel like we do. A lot of things happen at the warehouse for the kids where parents comment, “You’ll never be a millionaires”. But in a way we feel richer in our lives for these gestures. I know it’s cheesy, and a little bit of sick has probably just come up in your mouth reading this, but we’ve always been like it.

I met a group of youths – or as I like to call them “Lost boys” who were living in a hedge. Yes, you just read that correctly a hedge. It was only last year (2015) that I some how discovered that these three youths were living in a hedge by the side of a busy Swindon Road. Bruce Street Bridges seemed to be the “Bain” of every Swindon driver’s life as the road works destroyed Swindon’s transport network, but to these three young people Bruce Street Bridges was home. They had zero money, no parents or family to fall back on, just a tent and some extreme sports equipment. One was a skater, one was a scooter rider and the other a BMX rider. It’s important to know these are not bad kids, just people who have found themselves in a bad situation.

It was so cold when I discovered them. When I say cold, I actually mean freezing; One day the temp’ fell below zero. They felt failed and betrayed by everyone and were barley keeping a job down between them. Huddled round an open fire made from pallets from the industrial estate they told me, the local council had offered little help. It was hard for the council, as Swindon has a severe homeless problem and housing was and is still short. Being young fit males made them nearly invisible on the long list of emergency housing for Swindon.

The youngest who wasn’t even 18 would have been chucked into some youth housing, but his loyalty to his other new found brothers made him want to stay living in the third would country conditions that was a Swindon ditch. I kid you not, their home looked worst than a Syrian refugee camp. At least at a refugee camp they would have had members of the red cross piecing back their life back together, not a crazy woman from ATBShop and a few kind people from Street Games – An organisation set up to help underprivileged youths in sport. We were far from qualified for this role.

These three lads 12 months on with a little help have a new life but the bottom line was that the “Oasis Skate Park” became a sanctuary to them and their friends when they all had nothing to do and no where to go.

For people not familiar with Swindon’s terrible but iconic landmark – “The Oasis Skate Park” is a metal skate park in dilapidation, built at the back of Swindon’s famous “Oasis Sports Centre”. Sadly this haven where no one judges your back ground – just your tricks and riding style is set to be taken away from these youths and other fellow riders in a recent set of plans from developers. The new owners of the site plan to replace the skate park with a grassy seating area.

For some of you wondering why we would ever want to save such a rubbish part of Swindon, then I ask you where will these young people go? Its more than just a hang out, it’s a second home and a place to exercise and socialise without bothering anyone but fellow riders. When these kids had nothing, the skate park offered them everything. It’s been this way for 30 years.

Stuart and I with a massive team including our generous sponsor Domino’s Swindon, put on a huge event annually to show case this “urban raw talent” that has evolved from such free spaces as the Oasis. This event is about showing Swindon what these spaces can achieve and whose life’s they will be effecting if they are removed.

They funny thing is when I started the Change.org campaign to protect this site for further generation, most were happy to sign but there were some very ill educated people who said level it who were in fact riders themselves. I hope they read this and see why I, and so many others feel so passionate about this site.
Financially the Oasis skate park is competition for ATBShop Skate Warehouse but for me personally it’s so much more.

Friday the 8th of April 2016 marks the second years of the Urban Rider Games or as it’s now known now – The Domino’s Urban Rider Games.

As they say “Actions Speak Loader Than Words.” And yes they do. This Friday we shall show Swindon there is a need to keep these places alive and funded, that there is a particular need to keep this space active for all to enjoy, rich or poor.

Without this space those kids wouldn’t have the friends they have and wouldn’t have found their new way to a better life. Two will be competing this Friday in the Games and we wish them the best of lucky.

Lets just hope the council wake up and save this special space and improve it for future generations.

https://www.change.org/p/swindon-swindon-borough-council-swindon-borough-council-save-our-free-outdoor-skatepark-at-the-oasis

The Kim Kardashian debate continues

Should we care…? The answer is YES.

I personally think taking a photo that leaves nothing to the imagination isn’t empowering. The fact that she chose to share that sort of photo on such a public outlet sets the wrong example.

It’s actually not ok to post nude photos of yourself on social media. That’s what porn sites are for. I don’t want to see Kims bits in my Twitter feed while I’m downing my tea and toast in a morning. Also when you post on a public platform it’s out there forever. Which I guess is fine for someone with a sex tape in circulation, but not for young girls who have to live with their consequences later on in life.

Young girls will think this is acceptable and copy. #fact.

I don’t want to see an aftermath of young girls stripping off saying that Kim K empowered them!!!

I’m not saying this because I’m a prude, but because photos like this could hinder job prospects in the future. When you’re 16 you don’t think further than a week ahead. I’m not putting young people down. I just remember what it was like to be that age and I’m thankful Facebook wasn’t around to document my antics.

She’s a role model for thousands of young girls who want nothing more than her lifestyle. Which is fine when you’re at the age of 18 but not when you’re in your 30s. I think you hit an age like mine of 32 and realise it’s a shame that girls will never be inspired to be politicians, doctors and teachers because of women like her.

She could use her popularity to empower young girls in different ways – after all she is a very clever business woman, but plays the stupid card so well.

“Come on Kim you could be so much more.”

My dyslexia made me feel I couldn’t achieve much when I was younger. That’s why I succeeded so well at sport. I just kept thinking of what I could do with my life that didn’t require spelling or reading. I wanted to be an actress because I thought I would get away without reading or writing, but thanks to some amazing female teachers who believed and empowered me I was able to achieve good grades. In my quest to be an actress I had been asked to take off my clothes and pose for photos but thanks to my teachers I was warned that this wouldn’t help any on screen career.

They were so right, and now I’m an adult I can be thankful for not taking my clothes off. I would die if any of the children, parents or clients had seen me naked on the internet.

Now for all of you who know me really well then you will know there is one photo of me out there in the public domain which might make people think I’m a hypocrite for writing this.

All I will say is there was a context for this and it’s a photo which isn’t going to shame me later in life, as I’m covered and it’s obviously a joke. To some it maybe a joke to far and a little crass, but to my circle of friends and I it’s a in-house joke which was carefully orchestrated and repeated in good humour. I carefully thought about my actions and consequences. This wasn’t a “snapchat” decision which could be captured and left to haunt me for a lifetime.

Kim’s decision to part with her clothes like she did in her stylish bathroom, just gave girls around the world the green light for some homemade photos to be circulated – entitled “#empowered.” A foolish younger Diana may have joined in, but the wiser, older Diana just looks on with disappointment as Kim – a mum, lowers herself.

Empowerment is so much more than stripping.