The joy of giving your money away!

Last Sunday I was asked to appear on a BBC1 TV show Sunday Life, to review the papers.

The studio was located in an old converted mill in Keighley, so I assumed it was a local programme, and as I’m not normally awake so early on Sundays, I hadn’t seen the show before. So I showed up at 8am, having flicked through the papers and digested a few fun facts that I hoped to say should the occasion arise.

Being so early on a Sunday, I definitely needed the make-up artist they kindly provided, and just before being whisked into the studio I asked what time the Yorkshire section would be shown so I could let my family and friends know what time I’d be on.

The Producer looked bemused and explained the programme is national, which sent me into panic. Thank goodness I’d taken the Sunday’s to the loo with me earlier!

I was introduced to the Presenters Louise Minchin the BBC news reader and journalist and broadcaster John Sargeant. They wanted to chat to me about my attitudes to money, and had also invited Adrian Mann along to join the discussion.

Adrian is the man everyone wants to have knocking on their door. The man from the National Lottery who presents all the jackpot winners with their huge cheques. It is his job to provide emotional, financial and legal support to anyone who has won over £50,000. He appears at the door, having made sure nobody has followed him to discover the winner’s identity.

He’s experienced in helping people overcome the shock and he can talk about the dangers of winning the lottery, the emotions of guilt and fear that they go through, the scare of public fame and possible family fall outs. He had so many stories to tell me, I’m sure he’d make a great dinner party guest.

Whether he had any influence on one couple featured on the programme, I’m not sure but they certainly brought a tear to my eye. Ray and Barbara Wragg from Sheffield 8 years ago scooped over £7 million on the lottery. They live in a lovely house and have a nice car but so far they’ve given over £5 million of their winnings away to worthy causes and charities.

But what came across loud and clear from the interview they gave was the pleasure they get from giving that money away. They don’t just send off a cheque and pat themselves on the back afterwards; they take time to get involved with the projects they sponsor like a small farm for inner city kids to visit, and scanners for their local hospital. They could have bought a luxury yacht to use once or twice a year but instead they have brought so much happiness to so many more people through their generosity.

I can certainly identify with exactly what they mean about getting pleasure from giving money away. When Michael and I won ‘Britain’s Best Home’ recently, the £25,000 prize money was very much appreciated but it wasn’t the main reason we entered the contest. So we decided that we’d much rather donate the winnings to worthy causes who would be able to put the money to far more effective use than we could.

So I telephoned Cancer Research, who very kindly sent 10 volunteers to help out at my charity bonfire party last year, as unfortunately like most people, I’ve lost family and friends through this terrible disease, and they are always first in my thoughts where donations are concerned.

When I told them that £12,500 was coming their way, it was like they had won the lottery too! They must get used to receiving large donations, however I’ve never met a more genuinely grateful bunch of people. They came round to my house the next day for a cuppa and to receive the cheque.

The other half of the winnings was given to GoneTooSoon the memorial website which is also a non-profit making organisation. The money will ensure the site can continue to remain free for everyone to use, and to support the 3 million users who visit the memorial pages every month.

Hands Off She’s Mine

Last week I told you about how my Housekeeper, Sharon was really keen to save us money around the house, and always keeps a tight reign on our housekeeping budget. She often looks after the celebrities that come round, and when people stay over she’ll iron their outfits and look after them like kings (or Queens!).

So many of the celebs have tried to poach her, and since reading last week’s article I’ve had more calls enquiring whether she’ll sub-contract for them!

She works incredibly hard and is always on the move around the house, multi-multi tasking and I’d never let her go. She’s not only a housekeeper but a friend to Michael and I, which is important to us. She’s also the one who has to put up with us first thing in a morning which is not always a pretty sight. Every night when she leaves the house is immaculate, then when she arrives the next morning her heart must sink, how she puts up with us I’m not sure.

So Michelle Collins, and everyone else, keep your hands off, Sharon is staying with me.