Thursday, 17 April 2014
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.
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.
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
(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.
(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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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...