Thursday, 17 April 2014

CHAPTER 20


RAISING THE ROOF FOR CUDECA,. I ALMOST ASK CLIFF RICHARD IF HE'S GAY AND A BEATLE WIFE EVENTUALLY SAYS YES





With just 4 weeks to go, my campaign to try and raise the 10 million that was needed to pay the builder so he could then put the roof on the hospice was well under way. As is my way, I always like to have names or titles over any project that I was working on, so I named this the Raise The Roof For Cudeca campaign.

Max Bygraves, who I casually met in a Puerto Banus restaurant, had agreed to star at a fund raising Gala which I planned to stage at the end of the four week fundraising campaign to be held in Marbella’s 5 star Guadlamina hotel.
Among a host of other artists, who had offered their time for free, were Mr Lonnie Donegan (see photo) and Jackie Travis.

Thankfully things were beginning to gather momentum at a pace and it seemed that the whole Costa del Sol was talking about and getting into the spirit of helping to Raise The Roof. Various radio stations also put aside any differences that they might have had as competitors by agreeing to play The Raise Roof For Cudeca CD throughout the day also announcing various ways that their listeners could get involved and help. I was also receiving updates from golf, tennis and bowls cubs who had agreed to put on a least one tournament during the 4 weeks leading up to the final gala evening. Restaurants and bars were also getting into the spirit and promised various fund raising events.

I then did something that I was criticised innately for; I called Joan with what some might think a very odd request, I asked her could she get me a terminally ill patient to record a radio advertisement as a promotion for the Raise the Roof campaign. Joan being Joan didn’t even question my request and within 24 hours I had what I wanted down on tape. I know it upset some of the listeners and maybe I can understand how some people listening to a dying woman making a plea for funds etc was distasteful but personally I didn’t care all I was focused on was raising as close to the 10 million as possible!


At the time of the Raise the Roof campaign my radio show was sponsored by the Club La Costa Resort. The owner Roy Peires (see photo) was also a personal friend of mine, so I decided that I would go along to his headquarters to see if he might make a generous donation towards the building fund . Driving there I was trying to work out how much I would ask him for, because if I asked for too much he might say no and if I asked for too little I might be missing out on an opportunity to get more. So I settled in my mind for 1 million PTS (6,000 Euro). I know it’s a lot but CLC was doing phenomenally well and I knew Roy to be extremely generous when it came to charity.
We settled down to lunch at one of the many restaurants on the resort. As we were chatting about various things happening on the Costa etc, all I could think was; ‘will I ask him now, no maybe wait another 5 mins? Throughout lunch it was hard to concentrate on our conversation because all that was going through my mind was; ‘will or will I not, is the time right now, no wait not now?’ Time was running out as we were already on coffee and Roy started to look at his watch, so I brought up the subject of Cudeca and the challenge before me to raise the money for the roof. Roy asked casually: “How much do you want?” It’s now or never I thought; “10 MILLION!” SHIT! I thought, why did I say that? I was meant to say 1 million, now he’ll think I’m being ridicules or worse greedy! Before I could correct my stupid slip of the tongue Roy looked me straight in the eye and said: “Okay, you can have it. I’ll send you a fax in a day or two confirming, if that’s okay?” He then excused himself as he was late for a meeting and left me sitting there speechless. ‘The Man from Club La Costa said YES!’

I decided that I was going to tell no one about Roy’s phenomenal donation not even Joan Hunt as 1. I wanted to keep people motivated to continue raising funds and 2. I planned not to announce the 10 million donation until the end of the Gala evening.


The 4 weeks were now up and the gala evening was underway, I knew that I had achieved my goal of raising the 10 million
but how much more did the Raise the Roof campaign finally make? Part of my master plan was that we would call around all the clubs, restaurants, bars etc who were fund raising throughout the evening giving new totals as they came in (sort of a BBC’s Children In Need format) The Gala was a total sell out every table was taken. Lonnie Donegan brought his young son Peter along to join him on stage singing ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman.’ Jacky Travis appearance took the house down with her rendition of Hello Dolly and Max Bygraves had the crowed, that numbered over 350, singing along with Tulips From Amsterdam. All and all the entertainment was first class that night. The auction went extremely well and saw my wife Wendy modelling a stunning fur coat that was part of the auction items (See photo of Wendy modelling). As I said throughout the evening reports of great fund raising success were being telephoned in and then passed to me on stage for me to announce each amount was greeted by enthusiastic applause. Eventually, as the spectacular evening was drawing to a close, the time had arrived for the raising of a giant cheque waiting back stage for the final amount to be written on it. I hadn’t a clue what the total was but I was hoping that it would be around 5 million. Remember I still hadn’t told anyone about the fax for 10 million from Club La Costa burning a hole in my pocket. As the giant check was hoisted slowly above the stage accompanied by Mayte and the children from Stagecoach each caring a burning candle singing Raise The Roof For Cudeca. I was astonished to see it didn’t have 5 million written on it but a grand total of 20 million pesetas in big bold letters on it. The ballroom in unison jumped to their feet yelling, cheering and applauding Id never heard anything like it the noise was deafening! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Eventually when the applause subsided and I called Joan Hunt on stage to allow one of the children to present her with a bouquet of flours and allow her to address the tear-filled room. My big moment had finally arrived for me to read the fax from CLC letting Joan and the audience know about Roy Peries’s donation of 10 million PTS and that the total NOW in fact reached 30 MILLION!. At that point the place went insane; tears flowed freely as the audience started to hug each other all joining in on the chorus of Raise The Roof For Cudeca.


(The Photo of Joan shows the actual moment of her holding THE 10 million peseta fax I had just read and then handed it to her)


That evening 'WE..... Raised the Roof for Cudeca'. We had done it!



A total of 30 million was raised during that unbelievable 4 weeks thanks to the people of our beautiful Costa Del Sol. Even to this day every time I think back to what happened I still believe it to have been nothing short of a miracle!



Barry Hands a former colleague of mine at Onda Cero Radio and now heading up Age Concern in Estepona called to ask would I help raise enough money to pay for 60 plus members of Age Concern Christmas dinner and party, who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone. I decided that my radio show would make this contribution as I really didn’t want to ask the listeners to start digging deep into their pockets again so shortly after Raise The Roof. I did pop along to the party on my way home from my Christmas morning broadcast of Wish You Were Here, it's where I phone around the world sending Christmas greetings to loved ones from their family and friends living here on the Costas. Just seeing how happy all the Age Concern members looked in their silly paper hats laughing, pulling crackers, stuffing themselves with turkey and Christmas pud made me feel as good as I did raising the 30 million for Cudeca!


Early into the new year I had word that the Variety Club of Great Britain were hosting a special fund raising weekend at the La Manga Resort Murcia, Costa Calida about a 5 hour drive from the Costa Del Sol. It was planned to be a weekend of celebrity golf, tennis and various sporting events all to be filmed by Sky Sports and sponsored by OK! magazine ending on the Sunday evening with a concert by Sir Cliff Richard and Elaine Page. I put a call to Varieties head office in UK requesting permission to attend and broadcast live from the event. They said as long as it didn’t interfere with Sky Sports they had no objection. After assuring the TV production team that I wouldn’t get in the way or disturb the event in any way they agreed. A couple of weeks later Wendy and myself were checking into what was to become one of my favorite hotels in Spain the La Manga Cub. Hanging around the lobby, also checking in, were various celebrates who were over for the event including former world champion F1 driver Nigel Mansel, Moody Blues guitarist John Lodge, Goody, Tim Brook Taylor, stunt man extraordinaire Rocky Taylor,Jess Conrad, Henry Cooper and my old friend Kenny Lynch. After checking into our room we made our way down to the pool aria for lunch we spotted Kenny who asked us to join him. After lunch he suggested we join him and the rest of the celebrities that evening for dinner.
Around 8 o'clock we all met at the bar and headed off for the local Pizza, which is within walking distance from the hotel. We were all having a great laugh when the door burst open and in walked Jasper Carrot apologising that he was late yelling: "I was trying to buy the WHOLE of La Manga but they wouldn't sell!" Everybody fell around laughing, I didn’t quite get it until someone explained that Jasper had just sold his share of Celador the company that owned Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for a reputed 40 million pounds!!! I remember the fun we all had walking back to the hotel that night when Jasper kept stopping at the bank’s ATM machines yelling into them “ All the money in there is MINE!”
(The photo on the left was taken the day after our Pizza experience. Jasper looking a little rough and me looking a little heavy, must of eaten to many pizzas!!!)


Cliff Richard arrived at La Manga on the Sunday morning and attended a short press conference, he was then scheduled to do a short 5 minute max interview with me arranged by his then manager Bill Latham. As I said earlier Wendy was never into any of the showbiz type hype , she hardly ever attended any of my radio or TV shows, but once she found out the I was going to record an interview with Cliff Richard she insisted in coming along, she's been a big fan of Cliff since she was a kid.
As we made our way to Cliffs suit Wendy asked me; “So, are you?”
“Am I what?” I answered slightly puzzled to her line of Question
“You know exactly what.” Wendy answered with a knowing look on her face
“Oh that!, of course I will.” Wendy was of course referring to the ongoing debate; is he or is he not GAY?
She seemed shocked when I told her that of course I was planning to ask him. As broadcaster I've always believed that questions put to a guest should be what the audience would like to know and that this particular question is one nearly always brought up every time the name Cliff Richard was used: 'Is he or isn't he?' So of course I will ask him. In fact when It came around to it I took a rather cowardly way out by putting it to him this way :”Cliff, are you not fed up by people who refer to you as gay?”. Cliff got up and hit me with his handbag! Only Joking!!!. Cliff responded by saying he’s had three important relationships in his life; one was with Australian songstress Olivia Newton John, who had been dating the Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch at the time and almost drove him to a mental breakdown after losing her. The next was the very public relationship with tennis player Sue Barker and finally I believe there was a German girl. Cliff said that he would never marry just to please his fans.
Do I think he's gay? Firstly it's none of mine or should it be of anyone else's business. I do think in all these years with all the rumors about his sexuality there would have been at least one story confirming that he was gay in the gutter press and yet over 50 years NOTHING. Just makes you wonder.

Another funny incidence that weekend concerning Cliff happened when he was playing an arranged double tennis match against comedian Jasper Carrot. Cliff had just made a sneaky shot that slowly dropped off the top of the net falling far too short for Jasper to get to, Cliff, who takes his tennis very seriously, walked smugly away delighted to take the point, But jasper slammed his racket down on the net shouting: “You’re not going to claim that Cliff, there’s nothing in the bible that allows THAT!” he exclaimed much to the amused to the packed galleries. In all it was a brilliant weekend and an outstanding concert that evening with Sir Cliff and Elian Page

One sunny afternoon I was walking along Puerto Banus generally minding my own business when I heard a woman calling my name. I didn’t recognise the woman who was now waving frantically at me to join her for a drink. She introduced herself by telling me how much she enjoyed my shows from Las Vegas and would I be interested in bringing the show to Barbados? Would I what???? I told her that it would be fantastic and although I don’t charge an added fee I do need my flights, hotel, food etc sponsored. I got the surprise of my life when she told me that her husband Eddie was a partner in one of the islands most fashionable boutique hotel and restaurants called The Lone Star and that she was sure he’d be delighted to sponsor the deal. Coincidentally, I had just read a glowing report about the Lone Star in Michael Winners travel column. He had stayed there on his annual Christmas holiday as his usual haunt, the Sandy Lane hotel, was being rebuilt by a consortium of Irish billionaires, J. P. McManus, Dermot Desmond and John Magnier.
Within a day are two the deal was agreed and I started to plan my first ever trip to the Caribbean Island of Barbados. The man in charge of the hotel was Rory Rogers who contacted me almost immediately to find out what I technically needed to make the show happen. After going through the list of equipment necessary. I told him that I needed an ISDN line to make the broadcast connection to Spain. Rory informed me that The Lone Star had no ISDN line. I said to him that without it, it would be impossible to broadcast. He told me not to worry and assured me that he would contract Cable and Wireless (the Caribbean’s telephone company) to install an ISDN line connection into the hotel and that all would be ready on my arrival. I also inquired about possible guests etc for the show, as unlike Las Vegas I didn’t imagine that there would be that many celebrities hanging around to help make up five days of two hour programs but again a very confident Rory assured me that the Island was full of interesting characters and the odd celebrity that might be holidaying there so not to worry. I was beginning to worry!

Again Wendy accompanied me on this trip, well who could blame her, 10 days on the sun soaked Caribbean Island of Barbados? As we disembarked the Virgin Atlantic 747 at Barbados’s International Airport we were met at the bottom of the steps by a woman smartly dressed in a maroon blazer, a white pleated skirt and white shoes, she was holding up a sign with MR and Mrs Boland printed on it. I was amazed she was allowed to greet us on the runway even before passing through immigration and customs. She introduced herself and said that she was from the Diamond Service and had been sent by the Lone Star to meet us and drive us to the hotel, I was impressed. She asked for our passports and to follow her, passing the other 400 plus tired passengers, who also had just disembarked the London flight, waiting in line to go through immigration. We were briskly ushered through a side gate, our passports were stamped, we were then ushered out of the burning hot mid afternoon Caribbean sun into a waiting air conditioned limousine that sped us away from the airport to our hotel, it was then I asked about our luggage, only to be told that it was been picked and would follow shortly. Now I was doubly impressed!


The trip from the airport to the hotel was only about 15 minutes. When you first arrive at the Lone Star one could be
forgiven for being taken aback by its immediate appearance, for the façade still looked very much like the original local garage (See Photo) I remember thinking that this couldn’t be the correct hotel that Michael Winner praised so favourably in his Sunday times column? but from the moment you stepped inside all changed.


Rory Rogers greeted us warmly and accompanied us to our suit which was located directly on the whitest beach I had ever seen, he asked us if we would like to freshen up and then join him for a coffee in the restaurant.
As on my trips to Las Vegas, we arrived on the Friday giving me the weekend to acclimatise and start planning my guests (finding them in this case!) for my forthcoming week of shows. I got a terrible shock when I noticed a pile of pretty archaic looking radio equipment lying in the corner of the suit! "Surely that wasn’t what Cable and Wireless were hoping that I would be using on my show'" I said to Wendy, as usual the ever calm Wendy told me not to worry, that she was sure it would all be sort out on time for Monday. I left Wendy to unpack and relax as I went to meet Rory. But no matter what Wendy said I WAS worried!

Over coffee Rory explained that The Lone Star used to be a car repair garage run by a couple of locals, it was eventually bought by an English company and transformed into one of Barbados’s top restaurants attracting the mega rich celebrities and business moguls who annually holiday on the Island. After a few years it was decided to build just four luxury suits onto land to the side of the restaurant. The suits were designed by one of London’s top design studios. Each suit was named after a famous car i.e The Cadillac Suit, The Buick Suit, The Studebaker Suit and we were staying in the Shelby Suit. As interesting as all that was I needed to ask him about the stack of old looking radio equipment dumped in my room. Rory told me not to worry as Cable and Wireless assured him that they will be here early on Monday morning to set up everything and make sure it’s working. I was worried! I then asked him how many guests had he already invited onto my show and who where they? He looked at me somewhat bewildered a sort of confused like a rabbit caught in a cars headlights: “I thought YOU booked your own guests and that’s why you come out two days early?” He replied apologetically. I didn’t want to show him how disappointed I was and told him not to worry.
After spending an hour with Rory I went back to the suit where Wendy was relaxing on the terrace watching the sun set over the glass calm Caribbean Sea. “Lets go for a swim?” I suggested. With twenty or so steps from our terrace we were in and soaking up in the warmest clearest sea I have ever been in, it honestly it felt like a tepid bath, by this stage the beach had some locals playing cricket on the wet sand (see photo) they literally play every day straight after work until it’s too dark to see the ball. I felt like joining in a few times but seeing how serious they take it and remembering the last time I played cricket was at school I decided to give it a miss!

That night we had a long leisurely dinner at the Lone Star, it didn't take long to understand why the
restaurant is one of the top ranked restaurants in Barbados. Sitting there under the star filled sky watching the moons reflection gently dancing on the sea could only be described as Paradise. We were one of the last customers to leave when a couple sitting opposite us come over to our table and asked us would we like to join them at the bar for a drink.
The gentleman introduced himself as Chris, Eddy’s partner at The Lone Star and the woman as Patty. They knew who we were, of course, and why we were there. After a drink are two, I started to think that I recognised Patty and told her so.It turns out she was Patty Boyd (see photo) George Harrison ex wife who later married and divorce from Eric Clapton etc etc. You can imagine my excitement and immediately invited her to join me as my first guest on Monday. Unfortunately she wasn’t to enthusiastic, telling me that she NEVER gives interviews. That never stopped me in the past securing a guest so after a few more drinks and a gently bit of Boland persuasion she agreed! I couldn’t believe it, I’d only been here less than 5 hours and I had Patty Boyd secured as my first guest. At the end of a very enjoyable evening we thanked them both and bid them goodnight by saying how much I was looking forward to the interview on Monday.


As we walked back to the suit we saw a large crowed gathered on the beach, we wondered over to find out what was happening only to find a Greenbacked turtle was on the beach digging a whole to lay it’s eggs. There was what looked like an expert keeping the crowed back so as not to disturb the turtle. I went over and asked him to explain what exactly what was going on. He told me he was part of the Caribbean Wild Life Association and his job was to record turtle movements. Perfect I thought and invited him to join my Monday show, which he thankfully accepted. I went to bed that night thinking this might be easier than expected.

Little did I know the nightmare that was about to unfold .

To be continued...



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