Terry’s Personal Experience of
The Secret Millionaire
When Channel 4 first contacted me about the show I was doing an exhibition of some of my photography in London and they asked if they could come along and talk to me about a tv programme. They didn’t say which one until they arrived. I wasn’t sure if it would be my type of thing but they gave me a DVD of the first series to look at before deciding. Well I watched it and cried my eyes out… I thought what a brilliant programme it was.
The whole experience was a really life-changing time for me, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in such a short space of time. I’d see some of the residents in the care home where I was working and sometimes I’d just have to sneak off to burst into tears.
Even on a personal level it changed my outlook on life. I was spending time with people only 20 or 30 years older than myself who were unable to look after themselves, and it made me realise that none of us have much time. It made me think about the importance of retiring as early as possible, of making the most of life and it made me so relieved that I’m fortunate enough to be able to give my mum all the care and attention she needs.
I was also really touched by the generosity I was shown by virtual strangers. If you’re in one of my bars or clubs in Leeds than there’s a good chance you know who I am – and I’ve always been the centre of attention. As a result I know some people might just be nice to me because they want something. But everyone I met in Cornwall had no idea who I was and yet they were so staggeringly kind and it totally blew me away. People gave me food, cooked me meals, put a roof over my head. All of which also made me realise, even more than before, how there are much more important things in life than money.
I haven’t always been rich. My parents, who were frequently in and out of work, raised me and my bothers and sister in a terraced house on a Leeds council estate. At one point neither of them were employed and our family spent two years without power. Instead we cooked food on the coal fire and used a small paraffin lamp for light.
Even though I love the luxuries I have now and I wouldn’t choose to give them up, I think part of the reason I wanted to take part in the TV show was because I wanted to see if I could actually live like that again and I showed that I could.
I have been organising charity events for Cancer Research for a number of years, which is such a worthy cause however you never see the individual who will benefit from it and you just hope that the money is being used in the right places.
With Secret Millionaire though what means more is when you see how you can make a dramatic impact on someone’s life. There’s a personal satisfaction in giving an unexpected, personal gift to someone. There are people who say to you “I’m alright with life, doing well” but you can see that they aren’t ok and it’s a struggle for them to carry on. To give them that extra cash boost and see their reaction is just amazing and is the strength of the programme.