FROM Big Brother to Long Lost Family, Davina McCall has presented a host of famous TV shows.
But she says fronting The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards is one of her most nerve-racking telly gigs.
The presenter is returning to host our annual star-studded celebration of the nation’s healthcare workers and volunteers who have gone above and beyond.
Davina, 55, says: “I think what makes me a bit nervous is that they are heroes.
“You want them to have an amazing night.
“You want them to meet their dream celebrities and you want them to have an amazing, fantastic, celebration with everybody.
“I want to make it really fun, wonderful and heart-warming.
“I just want to do a great job of that.”
And this year, the show will feel even closer to home to Davina because her daughter Holly is training as an NHS dietician.
Davina says proudly: “My daughter is working in the NHS.
“She’s working in hospitals on placements.
“She’ll do another placement at Christmas, then she’ll do her dissertation before she graduates next June.
“Then she’ll go straight to the NHS.”
Davina, who is also mum to Tilly, 19, and Chester, 16, adds: “I’m proud of all of my kids, obviously.
“Holly realised, probably when she was 11 or 12, that she wanted to do something to help people.
“She loves cooking, food and trying to find a way to be able to help people using food.
“So it was like a no-brainer.”
‘Like being in trenches’
Davina says she has been in awe of the stories Holly, a dietetics student at Newcastle University, has told her about the NHS staff she has been shadowing on her placement.
She says: “Listening to her talk about the people that she has worked with is so lovely.
“Sometimes it’s like being in the trenches — it’s so hard it’s exhausting.
“It does make you all very close.”
As the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, Davina believes it is more important than ever to honour the contribution our doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital porters and cleaners give as they selflessly care for us in our time of need.
She says: “I think the NHS has had quite a hard time with people complaining, waiting times or things like that.
“But anybody that works in it, it’s not their fault.
“They give everything they’ve got.
“I’m sure the people who work in the NHS understand that they are not angry with them, but they bear the brunt of a lot.
“All they want to do is help people.
“You’re not doing it for fame or the money.
“You’re doing it because it’s a vocation.
“You were born to help people.
“We know how hard it is on the people that work in it.
“And if there’s anything that we can do to celebrate those people, and say thank you, it’s one of the most worthy things we can do.”
It has been a turbulent few years for our health service as it struggles with the Covid backlog.
But Davina says the landmark anniversary is still an important moment to pause and give thanks.
She says: “If you ask anybody in Britain about one of the things they are most proud of, it would be our NHS.
“If there was one thing that Covid taught us, that will stick with us, is that without it we’re done.
“This idea that treatment is free for everyone is so unique and so precious.”
She adds: “I mean, 75 years of the NHS — that’s quite something to celebrate.”
She told The Sun earlier this month that she and Michael, who has two sons from a previous marriage, live together in what they’re happy to call “a blended family”.
Fitness fanatic Davina, who is also a judge on The Masked Singer, knows she is lucky to have trainee dietician Holly on hand to knock up healthy, home-cooked meals — but she reveals she is not the only cook in their household.
She proudly declares: “Chester and Michael are amazing cooks too. #
“So me and Tilly sit back. We do the cleaning.
“I’m good at pies, one-pot meals, things like that.
“My son made an amazing chimichurri sauce last night.”
And Davina will be under added pressure because Holly will also be in the Who Cares Wins audience.
She says: “The thing that will make me most nervous is my daughter and her friend are coming.
“I try to keep her out of the public eye because she doesn’t want to be a famous dietician or anything like that.
“She just wants to work in the NHS.
“It will be nice to have her there to share in the event.”
In total, 11 gongs will be handed out to the most inspirational nominees at the awards — including Best Doctor, Best Nurse, 999 Hero and Unsung Hero.
Davina says: “I have been amazed by the quality of nominations this year.
“There are some incredible stories.”
You can read all about the amazing people who have made the shortlist in our spectacular 12-page pullout in next Saturday’s paper.
‘We all come together’
Davina is thrilled that among them are some healthcare workers and volunteers who have dedicated decades to caring for others.
She says: “I don’t know many other jobs that hold on to professionals in the way the NHS does.
“It’s not for fame or the money, that’s for sure.
“It’s for the love of your team, your patients.
“It’s for that feeling of community, that feeling of love — the ‘we all come together when the proverbial hits the fan.’ ”
The NHS is the biggest employer in the UK, with 1.3million people in England devoting their working lives to caring for others.
Black and ethnic minority staff make up almost a quarter of the total workforce.
Davina says: “I think it’s one of the most diverse professions, and that’s something to be proud of.”
The star is particularly inspired by our Young Hero nominees — and last year’s winner, Jayden Sorhaindo, was no exception.
Jayden is a 12-year-old carer for her mum Natasha and saved her life after she nearly drowned in the bath.
Davina says: “Any child who looks after a parent when they should just be being a child is a beautiful thing.”
Boxing champion Anthony Joshua presented Jayden with her award.
The 6ft 6in boxer, who is also on this year’s judging panel, hailed her as “my little angel” on the night — and made it his mission to get a selfie with every nominee.
Davina says: “That was amazing.
“That man is such a nice person.
“He’s half fight, half heart.
“He’s got a lot of time for people.”
Another standout moment was the moving speech given by Dr Ahmed Hankir, who took home the Caroline Flack Mental Health Hero gong.
NHS psychiatrist Dr Hankir, who works at the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, South East London, was forced to flee his home in war-torn Lebanon when he was just a child.
He ended up sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester while striving to qualify as a doctor, which left him feeling suicidal.
He now uses his experiences to help others and remove the stigma around mental health.
Davina recalls: “His speech was absolutely amazing.”
From her vantage point on the stage, she can see most of the audience in floods of tears on what is always an emotional night.
She says: “There’s a room full of people — celebrities, journalists, TV people and politicians — but you’d be hard-pushed not to feel moved by some of the stories you hear on the night.”
Davina cannot help but be affected but, ever the pro, she tries to maintain her composure throughout the ceremony to ensure the spotlight remains firmly on the winners.
She explains: “It’s not about me.
“I don’t want to cry because if we were celebrating someone, it would be awful if they were trying to console me.”
And the host is excited to mingle with this year’s incredible nominees.
She says: “I’m going to go down into the audience and meet as many of them as possible before and after the ceremony.
“They are absolutely the stars of the show and everybody treats them like that, which is lovely to see.”
September 13, 2023 at 01:30AM
from The Sun