How we began
I was working as a waitress in ‘The Orchard’ bar and restaurant, when the producer of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ approached me to appear on a ‘freshers and professors’ special. I was auditioned on camera, and thought nothing more of it, until I had a phone call a few weeks later saying I had been successful, and that filming was in a week! The wonderful thing about it all was that I had been praying about a way of raising some money for CCD before this opportunity came up.
When I left CCD in September 2003, after volunteering there for 6 months in my GAP year, they were very short of money, and were struggling to finance the finishing of the new Rainbow Rehabilitation centre. Wasan, the director, had even spent all his own life savings in an attempt to finish the project – such was his level of commitment. I myself, had nothing to give them.
When the ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ opening came along I knew, therefore, that it was a gift from God, and that if I was to win any money, I should give it all away.
To my surprise, I ended up on the hot seat opposite Chris Tarrant after winning ‘Fastest finger first’. I won £32,000 along with the professor, which worked out as £16,000 each. I said on air that I would give it away, and that’s what I did.
CCD were able to complete the building project, and the first ever purpose-built rehabilitation centre for disabled children was officially opened on 27th March 2004.
As a result of this, the Daily Telegraph did an article on my story, and then many more of the press became interested. Sky News approached me to make a documentary called ‘Giving it away’, which was filmed during my Christmas Holidays from university. Through these and various other media sources, about £30,000 was donated to CCD.
I was absolutely blown away by the generosity of the public and the number of people who were genuinely moved when they saw the conditions of the orphanage on television.
My expectations were blown once again when Starfish Trust, a Bristol-based charity, contacted me to say they would like to donate to CCD, which enabled them to buy some land adjacent to the rainbow centre. Their donation was in total about £100,000, the largest donation to CCD ever!!!
Following this, I was nominated for and won a ‘Pride of Britain’ Special award. Again, something good came out of my profile, and a little girl called Scrawny was adopted (to see Scrawny’s story, click here).
Inspired by unsung heroes and their achievements, I was stirred up once again to try to do the utmost for the abandoned disabled children in Thailand. This prompted me, along with James and Esther Treasure, and Henry George, to start ‘For Life’.