Red Nose Day, the fund-raising event from Comic Relief is happening on the 24th March. I recently interviewed TV star and singer Carrie Grant to discuss her involvement with this great cause, her home life with husband David Grant and their four children, Eurovision and baking.
Q. Carrie, Red Nose Day is just around the corner. Can you tell me why
it is an important charity for you?
A. Ever since Fame Academy did our Comic Relief version of the show I have
loved being a part of the event. I love that it raises money both here and
in Africa for some of those who are struggling the most. My Father is buried
in Sierra Leone so I have a special connection to West Africa and back home
here in the UK our own family have had to access a lot of help with Mental
Health Services so I see the need on a daily basis.
Q. You raise awareness for children with special needs and your own
children each have learning disabilities including Autism and ADHD. What
challenges can this present on a typical day in the Grant household?
A. The only thing about a typical day in our family is that there are never two
days the same! Each child has significant needs so David and I are usually
desperately running round trying to make sure each child's needs are met,
sharing out the work as we go! One child may need an hour's counselling to
get out of bed, another may be refusing to dress or eat, another may be
being extremely violent so we never quite know what we'll get! I love the
school holidays when it's all so much easier and the kids can move at their
own pace. One of our children only attends school for an hour or so, so we
have to make sure we are there for the school runs throughout the day. This
has meant David and I have to job share. We have at least three health or
school meetings a week so we have to be around for those. Life is full but
our children are amazing and magical and so talented in many different ways.
Q. There is still a lack of awareness surrounding 'invisible
disabilities'. As a parent of children with such disorders have you
experienced discrimination towards your children?
A. I can't even begin to tell you how bad it is for many parents of high
functioning autistic girls. From GP's not knowing what to look for, to
schools who don't believe there's an issue, to diagnostic criteria geared
towards boys and therefore no diagnosis is given, to CAHMS (Children and
Adolescent Mental Health Services) being so overstretched that your child
has to be suicidal before you can access any help. That's a description of
Services. Then you have the judgement from other parents when your child
melts down in the supermarket. I want to put a big sign above my kids' heads
reading, "Please don't judge, I'm autistic and today is actually a good
day!" Some parents have a terrible time within their families with relatives
blaming parents for their lack of parenting skills. It's hard for parents
and you have to develop a very hard exterior and a warrior spirit!
Q. I'm a sweet-toothed baking blogger and love baking in my spare time.
Are baking and cooking activities you do with your children and can these be
A. Oh gosh - YES!!!!! My children have a lot of sensory issues, which means
they hear everything at 10 times the volume of a neuro-typical person, they
are extra sensitive to smell, touch, taste, all of those areas. The
advantage of this is that they are brilliant at art and baking and the
creative areas. My children can literally spend an hour with their hands in
a bowl of watered down cornflour! We make cakes, biscuits, pastry etc. We
even have 27th Dec set aside as Pie Day each year.
Q. If you're favourite song were a cake, what would it be?
A. One of my favourite songs is Cameo's "Candy" as our entire family do the
dance to it called The Electric Slide. At weddings we've had about 300
people doing it in one go! In our family it was started by the Jamaican side
but each year more of our white relatives learn it and join in! It's a
dancefloor filler! If it were a cake it would be a Black Forest Gateaux -
because it is one of those things that every generation knows, it's down to
earth and gives you great memories. i.e. I know my kids will talk about this
song in years to come and laugh in the same way as my generation remember a
Black Forest Gateau.
Q. I'm a HUGE Eurovision fan. You were part of the group Sweet Dreams,
the UK's 1983 entry. Do you have fond memories of taking part in the
A. I absolutely LOVED doing Eurovision. Representing my country, singing every
day, doing loads of TV, Radio and press - it was a great opportunity. If I
hear the Eurovision theme tune I still get nervous. I thought it had all
been forgotten but when I did Fame Academy suddenly it all came out again.
We came 6th, which at the time was shameful but now is really seen as a huge
|Sweet Dreams - (Carrie on the right)|
Q. You were the head judge in this year's jury for 'Eurovision - You
Decide', helping to select this year's entry Lucie Jones ( a great song!). It must
feel quite a responsibility.
A. Actually I was Head Judge last year and the jury's favourite lost! Lucy
Jones is great though and David and I loved her in The X Factor. Great
Q. As a busy working mother of 4, do you find time to relax and if so,
what do you do to unwind?
A. I love reading, cooking, hanging out with friends and going on holiday. We
go to the Isle of Wight each year and we love it. It's like going back in
time. I love creating memories for my kids.
Q. Finally Carrie, charity and raising awareness are things that are
clearly important to you. What are your future plans in respect of these?
A. Oh gosh so much. I want the subject of Girls and Autism awareness to be
raised, I am campaigning constantly around this subject. I want for all
special needs to get greater understanding in society. Two of my children
have ADHD, one has Aspergers and another has Autism and ADHD.
In the healthcare arena I work in I want patients to be able to lead in
their own health. I do a ton of public speaking on this subject and I am
Patient Lead for The College of Medicine. I think it empowers the patient
and ultimately will help to make our amazing NHS sustainable.
Carrie Grant and family are wearing limited edition HomeSense aprons designed by celebrated British photographer Rankin to support Red Nose Day 2017 and help people living incredibly tough lives across Africa and here in the UK. The apron is part of a Red Nose Day 2017 range of products available in HomeSense stores nationwide.
A massive thanks to Carrie for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out my next post, coming soon, for a chance to win a Red Nose Day gift bundle.