Personal Heroes

This is my  personal heroes gallery, a living collection of family, friends and individuals who have helped to shape my life through their love and their friendship, and have helped make me the person I am. I apologise for any omissions and I hope that their stories will touch the lives of others through this web page in the same way that they have touched my life and left a lasting legacy in who I am.

Jimmy Greaves is a football legend and my boyhood hero. Like many others in the 1960s, my passion for the beautiful game was ignited by this man’s incredible goal-scoring talent. The great Spurs team in which Jimmy was a key player was a joy to watch and my inspiration to develop my football skills with a tennis ball in my back yard for hour upon hour. I, like many others, was broken-hearted when Jimmy was not included in the 1966 World Cup Final team and I watched this fabulous final on a black and white Russian television in St Petersberg on a memorable school trip. I had the joy of meeting Jimmy at my theatre in Leicester where his wonderful humour continued to inspire me

Thomas Cook has been a big influence on my life ever since learning his story whilst I was performing in a pro-am musical show at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre to celebrate his life. “Follow the man from Cooks” told how an accident in the small town of Market Harborough had led to him devoting his life to the temperance movement. It was through this and a flash of inspiration that he saw a way of harnessing the communications revolution of his day (the growing railway network) to a social cause such as temperance. His vision was to make travel attractive, affordable and accessible to the public and thus broaden their horizons and improve their lives. His principles of attractiveness, affordability and accessibility of new technologies are like a mantra to me.

I met my dad at a very early age !! For most of my life, my dad worked as a carpenter, joiner and undertaker in Boston. He was a very loving and caring father who wanted me to have all the things he missed out on because of World War 2 when he was in the RAF in India. It wasn’t until I left home for university that he had the courage to embark on a totally different career as a workshop supervisor at a Daycare centre for mentally handicapped adults. It was here that he showed his humanity and dedication to helping disadvantaged people.

My mum, like my dad, always wanted the best for me. She was from a large family with Irish roots. Her mother had about 11 christian names beginning with Olive, Emma, Frost ..... most of which were the surnames on Irish politicians. My mum helped to ensure that I had a very happy childhood. With very little money, we could not afford expensive holidays and almost every weekend in the summer, we would cycle down to Frampton Marsh to camp on the mud banks and swim in the creeks. Mum has always been a supportive rock in my life.

My uncle Len (Langford) is a lifetime hero of mine who played a big part in my growing up. With his craggy features, he inspired some of my love of soccer and I have vivid memories of him as a goalkeeper in the first floodlit match I ever watched on Boston United’s football ground. He was playing for Cherry Corner and although he picked the ball out of the net several times, he was still a hero. We used to play French cricket down his hallway at lunchtimes and today he is an amazing silver surfer in Spain where he emigrated with my cousin Gail and husband John.

My late uncle Bill (Langford) was a sailor in the war when his ship, the Ivanhoe, was attacked and sank. Although badly wounded, Bill survived and he and wife Iris and my cousins Mick and Steve, lived just down the road from us when I was growing up. Bill had the only car in the street, a Humber Snipe we called “The Bomb”, and he and my dad would perform weekly routine maintenance on it just to get it in shape to take off to places like Skegness and Hunstanton. There were many places on these journeys where we would salute as we passed in recognition of the spots where we had broken down. These adventures in “The Bomb” helped fuel my love of travel and adventure.

Janet Lord is Head Teacher at Langham Primary School and the winner of several accolades for her innovative and pioneering education practices. She is also an accomplished performer with the Main Street Theatre Company of Great Glen Leicestershire. As well as admiring her educational achievements, it has been a joy to have known her as a good friend for many years since the early days of the Kibworth Drama Group

Dave Timson is my “best mate”. Sometimes called Little Dave Timson by his rentacrowd friends, Dave and I have had many adventures on the ski slopes and squash courts where we have shared our love of sport. He is a former professional footballer with the distinction that he was the youngest Leicester City goalkeeper to play in the old First Division before that title was snatched from him by Peter Shilton. Dave was responsible for my only ski injury when he persuaded me to repeat a successful bunjee run down the slopes when I twisted my knee badly.

Julian Branston was my solicitor until he retired recently. With Dave Timson and myself, he was a founder member of the Leicester Squash Club Rentacrowd who were in regular demand at parties for a number of years. Julian is best remembered for his somewhat unorthodox backhand squash shot and his wonderful self-deprecating humour.


Mike Brown is a successful and entrepreneurial business man exporting machine tools and another founder member of rentacrowd. Noted for his impromptu renditions of “New York, New York”, Mike and his wife Sue would book me as a baby sitter for their two young daughters, Vanessa and Lindsey, whom I would amuse by standing on my head.

Ray Austin is known as Raymondo and Dynarod and a former financial services expert, and also part of the rentacrowd group. He is a passionate community member in his Leicestershire village and a good friend with whom the years melt away as soon as we meet.