I know you lot perceive me as a strong, butch, muscular, tough shelled alpha male beast of a man (and that IS partially true) but if there’s one television show that brings out my emotional side then it has to be Surprise Surprise. For those of you who are too immersed in the adventures at Waterloo Road, the concept is that Holly Willoughby and friends spring surprises on members of the public who give a lot and achieve a lot in their lives. It’s people who have done good or brave things and seek no reward for it receiving well deserved pats on the back and the stories are always inspiring.
We have had a lovely young chap who runs youth clubs and hostels for young people being surprised with a newly refurbished kitchen and we also had the lovely Jodi Ann Bickley who spends much of her time writing and sending letters of hope and love to people in need of a boost being surprised with the funds to be able to send more letters. This week we met Amy Fricker, who, at the young age of 26, has endured more hardship than most people do in their lifetime.
The thing that sets Amy apart from others is the sheer positivity she exudes despite her tough times and her bravery in the face of the numerous adversities she has faced. In pictures taken at the height of one of her illnesses, she was seen smiling and, with the help of a very supportive family, she defeated not one, but two life threatening illnesses. This came after a family tragedy when she was just 12 where she lost her mum. To even imagine the difficulty in enduring all of this before you turn quarter of a century old is just futile; there can be no words to describe what it must have been like for Amy and her loved ones.
Against all odds, she is here today, positive as ever, in a successful career with pre wedding party planners, the brilliant Hen Heaven and Stag Company. On top of that, Amy has just got married herself to life partner John, who supported her through her toughest times and it was her wedding that was the focus of Surprise Surprise.
I was honoured to be able to have a chat with the amiable and down to earth Amy, where she discussed with me her experience on the show and of the difficult times leading up to it.
Asked how she got through her tough times, she responded: “I have no idea to be honest! The first illness was aplastic anaemia and I had this treatment which kickstarted my immune system using antibodies from a rabbit!” she explains. “Then I had leukaemia and had a stem cell transplant which saved my life. People can, and do, sign up to the Anthony Nolan Trust to donate stem cells; my sister donated her cells this year and it’s so easy. It really does save lives.”
Amy goes on to describe how the chemotherapy left her unable to walk for a staggering 18 months and yet she still never lost hope or her infectious positivity.
“I tried to be positive and laugh a lot and it seemed to work,” she says. “John has been with me throughout it all and I’ve had support from all my family. I got visits daily at London Kings.”
It was Jenny, Amy’s sister, who contacted Surprise Surprise and for any of the cynical doubters out there, Amy insists she had no idea what the visit to the studio held for her.
“I thought I was at ITV to be interviewed about stem cell research and going to see Surprise Surprise was just an added treat so I had no idea. Even when Holly Willoughby started talking about weddings and asking people to stand up if they were getting married, I didn’t click as they had planted other people in the audience to stand up too,” Amy shares. “I was overwhelmed when I realised Holly was talking to me. I actually felt drunk as well as excited. I couldn’t speak at the start as I just couldn’t believe it.”
Viewers who caught the episode will know that, in time for her wedding to John, Amy was reunited with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew from Australia who had secretly travelled over to be with her during her special day. It was an experience that Amy remembers well, and most likely will for the rest of her life.
“It was incredible! My niece, Holly, and nephew, Owen, were 9 and 10 when they moved and they’re 16 and 17 now so it’s nice to know them as adults and my sister Jacqui last came over when I was really very ill so I don’t remember much of the visit at all as I was doped up on steroids and looked like Humpty Dumpty!” she recalls. “I was so shocked seeing her come on. That night we all had a meal together and it was just amazing!”
And Amy got the well deserved dream wedding just weeks later, with all of her family at her side.
“The wedding was incredible! The sun was shining and everyone was together!” she enthuses. “We also had a toast for my mum. It was a perfect day.”
Looking to the future, Amy and John have a honeymoon in Mexico to look forward to and Amy is keen to focus on her career with Hen Heaven and Stag Company. And, as someone who has come through so much hardship and made it to the most perfect wedding imaginable, could there be a better person to be tasked with making dream wedding experiences come true?
It was a very humbling experience speaking to Amy, who, as someone the same age as me, has done herself, her loved ones and the whole human race proud with her achievements in such a short time. I am looking forward to seeing her make a real success of her life and enjoy all of the happiness that awaits her in her marriage and in her future.
Please take some time to visit Anthony Nolan Trust to find out how you can help to save lives of people with blood cancers: http://www.anthonynolan.org/?gclid=CNeu_M-Km8ICFYbKtAodg2oALQ
And for stag and hen night experiences of a lifetime, take a look at the company Amy works for (come on guys and girls use your brains to figure out which link is applicable to you!) www.henheaven.co.uk AND www.thestagcompany.com
What did you think of last night’s Surprise Surprise? Leave us your comments in the usual place below or give me a surprise surprise by following me on Twitter and giving me your thoughts directly: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA
Written By Our Man In The North