BBC BLOGS - Anne Diamond's Blog

Archives for March 2011

Sony nominated for Speech Broadcaster of the Year!

Anne Diamond | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

juggling clown

You'd think I was too long in the tooth to get excited over such a thing, but I am well and truly chuffed at being nominated - because it's a very prestigious award! There I was, crawling all over the floor of my dining room helping my son cut out his GCSE art pictures for sticking into his scrap book, and I suddenly got a flurry of texts from colleagues in the media - and I wondered what it was all about.

Later this morning, I was meant to be on the BBC Radio Berkshire breakfast show talking about it, when my son flew back inside the front door and gasped: "I missed the bus!" Now this is a very serious issue in the Diamond family - catching the school bus. Cos if you miss it, the rest of the day falls into chaos. So off we flew together in the car, to chase the bus down the road. I totally forgot my phone, and so Andrew Peach was left hanging on there, with empty airtime where I should have been. Domestic chaos rules at times like this!!

And that's when I realised - trying to run a career of your own is one thing, and I'm hugely lucky to have had a terrific career in broadcasting, with some magnificent lucky breaks and opportunities. At the same time, undoubtedly my biggest achievement of all has been having, and still running, a family. But juggling the two, while it's often stressful and really, really hard, is what I truly enjoy. It made me smile this morning when I suddenly realised I'd left a colleague literally (well?) up in the air whilst I was madly chasing a school bus, and cramming a breakfast bacon baguette into my son's school bag.

Congrats also to the BBC Berkshire team who made: "Warning: May Contain Nuts!" because that has been nominated in another category.

And huge thanks to my team at Berks. Go us.

Alright, I know we've only been nominated - but frankly, that's what matters.

A poignant day to remember the children...

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Anne Diamond | 15:34 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

a head and shoulders picture of Bonita

...of our British Forces men and women.

Today, the bodies of the two Windsor based soldiers who were killed last week in Afghanistan, were repatriated, and brought through "Royal" Wootton Basset in Wiltshire. They're Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan and also Major Matthew Collins, whose death has left two children, Freya and Charlie, tragically fatherless.

So it was particularly poignant today to meet young Bonita Norris from Wokingham who is the youngest British female to summit Everest. Now, tomorrow, she's off to the North Pole and hoping to bump into Prince Harry, who's trekking there at exactly the same time. Bonita is hoping to raise money for The Forces Children's Trust, a charity that helps children of service men and women killed or seriously injured whilst serving their country.

A little boy with a very big challenge..

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Anne Diamond | 15:50 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

evian smiling

This is Evian - and, though this picture shows him beaming right across his face, in better times, he is now desperately ill.

His condition is called neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, and his mum, Claire is doing all she can to raise money to send him for treatment, which is only available in Germany at the moment. Many people reckon the treatment cannot save him, and that Claire should really just accept that and make the most of her limited time with him. However, Claire is one of those mums whose instinct is to fight. If you want to read more, then the least I can do is pass you along. Go to his website.

How much of the cost of your mother's day card goes to charity?

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Anne Diamond | 15:30 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

women in Bangladesh making greetings cards

The answer can be one hundred per cent. Today, Rob Jenkinson, from Old Windsor, was telling me about the Sreepur village project in which he became involved, back when he was a British Airways pilot. This picture shows the women of Sreepur making the greetings cards he hopes will make a difference to their whole lives.

Do you remember the BA stewardess, Pat Kerr, who became famous in the 80s for getting the whole of British Airways behind her idea to build and support a children's village in Bangladesh. Rob says that, at the time, he was a rather bored shuttle pilot who spent too much time waiting for his next shift. So he got involved and it has now taken up his whole life!

Sreepur, where the children's village is based, has a local tradition of paper making. Rob's idea is now to turn their paper making and card making gifts into a thriving village industry, providing "Fairtrade" jobs for local women. Now they want to get onto the cards market - and not just for Christmas cards.

If you want one of their lovely mother's day cards, they guarantee they'll get it to you in plenty of time - visit them online. They say every single penny - that's one hundred per cent of your money - will go directly to the charity.

Even classical musicians nowadays have to be sexy!

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Anne Diamond | 13:40 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011


Years ago, you could be a huge classical star and still look like Yehudi Menuhin. Nowadays you have to look like a bankable, marketable star with Hollywood style charisma and a tabloid private life. As if it's not high pressure enough just being a brilliant concert musician!

Today I met a young man who clearly fits the bill already. He's Yuki Ito, a 21year old cellist from Japan, who has just won the International String Competition in the Windsor Festival. He dedicated his prize-winning performance to his fellow country men in Japan, still suffering from the tsunami. He said his grandmother in Tokyo felt the quake and was shocked. Yuki will be back in Windsor in September playing the Dvorak cello concerto as part of the Windsor autumn festival

Anyone know what a fang manager is?


I love the story of the man who filled in the census in 1851 and registered a Peter Tabby as a resident in his house, whose occupation was "mouser".

And what of the Ellises, who lived at 69 Oxford Road, Reading, who gave a job description to every member of the household - even their four-month-old baby. Henry, the head of the family, describes himself as a "plebeian gardener and chartist" - a bit of a handyman. He describes his other half, Ann, as "fruitful wife" whose job entails "household and maternal cares", and goes on to say in the column for details about disabilities that she "can hear church bells, talks to her baby and wears specs when daylight grows dim". The eldest daughters are described as "parents' housemaids" and one of the sons "goes to school whistling as he goes!"

A delightful snapshot of life in just one house in Reading in 1851. Will you be so interesting in your census of 2011?

A very brave lady - because she has no choice...

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Anne Diamond | 14:15 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Katie Piper

Had a lovely lady on the programme today - Katie Piper, whose face is now very well known, but not in the way she would have once wished, just a couple of years ago when she was a budding TV presenter.

Her story is now notorious. She met a man, through Facebook, who came up to her at a promotional event in Reading and introduced himself face to face. They started a relationship which, long story short, she sought to terminate. He raped her, and then threw acid in her face, terribly disfiguring her forever.

Eighty, yes, 80, operations on, Katie is back on TV. She sought to go public with her story, to tell the world that she and people like her can still have a future.

"I didn't really have much choice," she told me today. "You don't know how brave you can be until you have no choice."

Watch out for "Katie: My Beautiful Friends" on Channel Four tonight.

No longer an uncut diamond!

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Anne Diamond | 12:01 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

Anne's silhouette

Yes, it most definitely is! The bits I don't like, as well as the bits I do!

This is me as cut today in silhouette in about thirty seconds by performance artist, and one of the UK's top silhouette cutters.

He's Charles Burns, from Emmer Green, near Reading. He's cut some of the most famous people in the world - and out of it, like Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. He's cut the Queen, President Bill Clinton, John Prescott, Jamie Oliver and Cliff Richard.

Today, it was the first time, though, in his whole life, and his entire career, that he'd ever cut a diamond!

Good news to come out of Japan...

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Anne Diamond | 14:30 UK time, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Simon Green taking a photo of himself on a mobile phone

The bad news from Japan is so breathtakingly awful, isn't it? That's why it was so wonderful this morning to be just a little tiny part of one family's good news... In a newspaper report, a fleeting mention of a young teacher from Reading who was teaching his class at the moment the quake struck.

He was Simon Green, aged just 23, and thankfully, he survived. But, like so many British nationals out there, he couldn't get hold of his family - who live in Sonning Common - to tell them he was safe. Then, he was photographed by a Daily Mail reporter who offered him a few precious minutes on his satellite phone.

For his family, it was the end of a nightmare weekend. And when I mentioned his story on air this morning, his grandmother and then his mum phoned in to say how thrilled they were that he was well. Sometimes we really all do feel we're part of a global family!

John should get a VIP ticket to 2012, don't you think?

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Anne Diamond | 12:56 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fanny crossing the line in 1948

Talking endlessly about the Olympics today, it being the first day tickets go on sale. Sally Gunnell, Olympic champ 400 metre hurldler joined me on todays programme, saying her boys are interested in BMX biking and boxing. Olympic rower Sarah Winckless joined in, saying she'd definitely try for tickets to Dorney Lake, and also the beach volleyball, which is going to be held at Horse Guards Parade! Me, I'll be trying for badminton, table tennis and tennis.

Meanwhile, I got a call from John from Reading, who attended the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympics, held in Wembley. The ticket cost him ten and sixpence, which was the most he'd ever spent on anything! The 1948 Olympics were called the Austerity Games, because it was all done on a shoestring budget, as it was just at the end of the war. Star of those Games was a Dutch woman runner, called Fanny, who won four Gold medals and was nicknamed The Flying Housewife because she was so fast!

Life in SCBU...such memories!

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Anne Diamond | 12:20 UK time, Thursday, 10 March 2011

Anne Diamond with Alison White beside her babies on the Buscot ward at the Royal Berkshire hospital

Twenty years ago to this very day, I was a frightened mum in a Special Care Baby Unit. My son Sebastian was born 20 years ago yesterday, four weeks early. His breathing was tortured and I was scared he wouldn't make it to the next day. But he grew slowly and steadily and, after two weeks, he came home.

Babies who come into the world too early live their lives on a knife edge. It's a matter of survival to the next day. For the parents, the anguish is tangible - and I could feel it in the plight of the parents I met at the Buscot Ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where they regularly fight for the lives of children born at 23 weeks. Here in the picture I'm with mum Alison White and we're standing in between two incubators containing Arthur and Eleanor, who are still doing well. I also met one little girl called Olivia who weighed just 600 grammes when she was born at 24 weeks - she's still there, six weeks on, still fighting to make it through the next 24 hours, day by day.

Last night, I was fascinated by the BBC 2 documentary which posed the question whether it was actually moral and right to pour thousands of pounds, and hundreds of man-hours into prolonging the life of tiny babies who will probably die anyway. So very few ever make it home, and even fewer make it into adulthood without profound disability.

But, having been a mum myself in a SCBU, I don't know you could ever possibly take the decision NOT to fight for life, whatever the consequences. The documentary argued that the decision should not be taken by parents, but by the consultant in charge. But is that fair? If you're a doctor who can prolong that little life, how can you go against all of your training to withhold your expertise?

I just don't know. I cried almost all the way through the programme, it brought back so many memories. Love to all at the Buscot Ward, and prayers that those babies make it through another night.

And now let's go...Nationwide!

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Anne Diamond | 12:51 UK time, Friday, 4 March 2011

Anne and Michael Barratt

Lifelong ambition just finally achieved. Sitting at a newsdesk alongside the legendary broadcaster Michael Barratt.

It's something I have wanted to do since I was a young reporter and knee high to a film editing machine. During all my days in broadcast journalism, and particularly presenting breakfast TV, Nationwide was held up as the benchmark for the best in popular factual entertainment.

I even worked on it for almost a year - its last year ever - 1982/1983. By then, it was losing its way badly and the BBC made what was, in my view and many others, a disastrous decision to make it "serious". It died shortly afterwards, but by then I had gone off to EggCup Towers and breakfast TV.

Michael is taking part in a stage show entitled "Laurie Holloway goes Nationwide with Michael Barratt" at the Norden Farm in Maidenhead next Thursday. Should be good!

Bring your frillies...

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Anne Diamond | 13:41 UK time, Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Tom Jones

Just learned, from regular guest Stewart Collins (who's the artistic director) that this year's headliner for the Henley Festival is the legendary Tom Jones. He's only doing three UK gigs over the summer and Henley is one of them!

He's one of those marvellous entertainers who's renowned for his famous recordings - but you really have to see him live to truly understand his appeal. I interviewed him first way back when I was a reporter for ATV in the Midlands. He was playing at Birmingham, so I decided to go along and witness a liver performance, even though I wasn't much of a fan of his music. He was utterly fantastic. And the girls literally did throw their knickers at him.

Makes me think...

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Anne Diamond | 14:24 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cambodian orphans standing outside their newly built home

Feeling totally fired up to take part in a cycle ride through Vietnam and Cambodia. It just shows you shouldn't meet and interview interesting people without being prepared for the consequences!

Today, I met Crispin Fairbairn from HopeAsia, who's organising the charity's money-raising cycle ride for the orphanage in Cambodia. It's set for February 2012 - and I'd really REALLY love to do it. Well, I can ride a bike, it's flat terrain and last year, a 70 year old woman took part, who hadn't ridden a bike in years! Time to seriously think about it, and put money where mouth is. And see if I can raise enough cash to make it worthwhile... Have a look at the latest pictures from the orphanage.

Orphan Srey Mao

Most of the kids would be domestic or sex slaves, or just plain dead, if it wasn't for the work of Crispin and his cohorts. Look at little Srey Mao (pictured right) who came to them from an abusive background. Years before, her father had broken her leg, which had never healed properly. She also had TB and bone infections. Now she's 17, had several years of surgery, and is learning to dance and look after the little ones at the orphanage, where she'll probably be given a proper job. Or Jacob, who was stolen from the orphanage by his aunt, who then sold him as a slave. They found him and bought him back - for fifty quid. Unbelievable.

Makes you think, doesn't it? It is certainly affecting me big time.

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