If like me you love to watch Britain’s Got Talent then you will have seen Mal Ford. He was the guy in the red jacket , playing the keyboard and refused to leave the stage before eventually turning the judges round and getting through . Unfortunately he didn’t get through to the live shows but I was there rooting for him all the way with nothing but pure admiration and a big sense of appreciation. Do you want to know why? Because that man was the only guy who gave me a chance to do the job I always dreamt of doing.
Let me start from the beginning
As a youngster my mum and dad used to take us on holiday all the time to Butlins . We would go every single month, sometimes twice in a month as a family. All the way there I would be extremely excited, we would go to Pwllheli Butlins which is now a Haven site known as Hafan Y Mor.
I used to love going to see all of the shows. The atmosphere was always so exciting and happy. I remember watching Mal Ford on the stage and seeing how he could manage to get a whole crowd going. He had this amazing knack of getting everyone in the room off their seats singing and dancing. Even the most grumpy of people just couldn’t resist his charm. He screamed entertainer.
I had a real genuine passion and admiration for all of the entertainers and as I sat there and watched them dancing to Agadoo or YMCA I decided that when I grew up that was what I was going to do. Most people dream of being doctors, or lawyers or some amazing profession that would mean they would make lots of money but I just wanted to be on stage. I wanted to be the person stood up there singing and dancing whilst everyone else joined in doing the dances and having a great time.
Was it even possible?
I remember sitting down with the career advisor at school and them asking me about my future goals and I said to them I wanted to be an entertainer in holiday parks. The advisor pretty much just laughed in my face and told me it wasn’t a proper job and I should probably make sure I had a back up plan as loads of people wanted to do that kind of job and it took a certain kind of person to do it. The odds of getting the job were very slim. Far from put me off what the careers advisor actually did was made me far more determined to show him and everyone else that I could do it, that I had the determination, that I was ‘that kind of person’.
At 16 I left school and went to work in a factory. Sadly you wasn’t able to be an entertainer until you were older so I had to wait. I also took a job in a touring production and toured the UK with a show called Pound Puppies and the secret treasure map. I played one of the puppies and for a 16-year-old it was a big deal I was being paid to be on stage, you couldn’t see my face but I was still on stage. I had actually been to the companies Saturday Stage School and then once I hit 16 I was too old to go there anymore and they asked me if I would like a job!
I wanted more
It was great being on stage in the tour but it wasn’t my ultimate goal, I really wanted to be on stage. In a holiday park. Doing silly party dances and having fun whilst I worked I was 17 approaching 18 and decided it was the right time to see if I could get a job somewhere. I sat at the computer in the spare bedroom and wrote out a letter. I can’t remember exactly what it said but it was basically telling them about me and what I enjoyed doing aswell as my ambition to be on the stage. I then printed out loads of copies and started adding them to envelopes. After researching different places, holiday parks and agents I posted them all off and just waited. I wasn’t sure if I would even get replies let alone a job but I had to try.
A short while after sending off the letters I received some replies simply saying no. I had no formal training, no experience and the season had already begun meaning that most places already had all of their staff required. One day another response landed on the doorstep and once again I was expecting a rejection letter. Only this time it wasn’t a rejection instead it was from Mal Ford telling me how he wanted to give me a chance and that he had a place for me at Haggerston Castle. At the time it was owned by a company called Bourne Leisure under the name British Holidays. Bourne leisure now own Haven and Butlins. Read more about them here.
Mal Ford had done it, he had made all of my dreams come true. I could barely believe it. I was going to be an entertainer in a holiday park. Just like I had always dreamed of and it was all thanks to Mal reading my letter and giving me a chance.
So whilst everyone is watching this older man on BGT and watching him refusing to leave the stage, I want to say Thank You. Thank You Mal from the bottom of my heart. Without you I would never have had the chance to be up there on stage, singing and dancing and doing a job that I thoroughly enjoyed. If I hadn’t have watched you and the redcoats growing up I may have never even had that passion in the first place.
I’m 35 now, too old to still do the job , missing it dearly and I have a little girl who has the same dream, she wants to be on stage and when someone tells her she can’t do it , I will remind her that if she tries her best there will be a Mal out there somewhere to help her on her way.