The Osmonds

To many of you who know me well, I am a huge Osmond fan.  I fell in love with Donny when I was 14.  I was quite sure that if I could just meet him, he would want to marry me! (Ha ha, along with all the other millions of girls who thought the same.)  The thing is, if he was going to marry me, we had to meet somehow.  That was the difficult part. How on earth could I get close enough to him?!

I need to start at the beginning.  I had decided it was extremely unfair that the Tour Managers never included my home city of Newcastle for their UK concert venues. London, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow were the usual places for their visits, but there were never any concerts included in the North East.  After seeing the Osmonds perform at Earls Court, London in May 1975, I felt an urgent need to try and do something about this.

 A12698254_10204030243276026_1113334113523170431_ofter contacting Dave Gregory at my local commercial station, Metro Radio, the Osmonds for Newcastle Campaign was launched. I was able to get thousands of names for the petition through newspaper articles and letters and found that there were many Osmond fans in the North East who felt the same.  There was a period of time between 1975 and 1979 when the family had been extremely busy with many other ventures, and their next UK tour was in January 1979. During this period, I organised several Osmond Conventions in Newcastle and probably hold some world record or other for how many requests I had played on Metro Radio over those five years!  In fact, Mike Taylor and Paddy MacDee ran an Osmond Spot every Saturday lunch time at 1pm for nearly two years when an Osmond record was played and dedicated to many local fans.  I had so much fun sending in requests every single week and got quite creative with them (I remember writing on an orange once; several were in code, and one was even written on a till roll that was about 12 feet in length! I sent in literally hundreds and every one of them was played.) The DJs were lovely and so supportive and I’m sure folks must have got tired of hearing my name.

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Mike Taylor at the Osmond Parade, Tyneside Summer Exhibition 1977

We had two Osmond Parades at the Tyneside Summer Exhibition in the Metro Radio marquee. It was such a great time to be involved. We got to know many of the DJs who became friends to us… Giles, Paddy, Mike, Steve, James, Andy to name a few … Paddy supported the Conventions as often as he could, all free of charge, which meant so much to us.

Once the Osmonds came back to the UK for their 1979 tour, sadly Newcastle had been missed again, but finally I had an opportunity to meet Donny in London.  They were presented with the Osmonds for Newcastle petition and I felt I had done all that I could do to persuade them to come.  Even so, it really wasn’t up to them to decide where they would perform. It was down to their management. But still, it was a huge highlight for me. Donny was as totally gorgeous as I had imagined, but I will point out that he was now a married man! I had missed the boat on that score… haha.

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My very first meeting with Donny Osmond along with my dear friends Jill Burtonshaw and Carol Hennessey

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Backstage with Donny at the Rainbow Theatre, London presenting him with the Osmonds for Newcastle petition

 

 

One exciting part about this tour was after their concert at The Royal Albert Hall, a group of us were asked if we would like to take part in some filming for the Donny and Marie Show which was being recorded the next morning. I’m not sure we slept very well that night! It was a freezing cold January day and the scene was set by the Albert Hall Memorial where Leif Garrett was to sing ‘I was made for dancing’. They needed some ‘fans’ to come and ask him for his autograph and we had to dance down the steps opposite the Albert Hall.  Jimmy Osmond would join him at the bottom of the steps once the song had ended. If you would like a laugh at my TV debut, the link is:

 

(I’m the first one on…. it’s very cringe-worthy lol)

So, fast forward 14 months to March 1980 and I was on my honeymoon in the south of England.  Little did I realise what was going on at home.  The local Press, TV and radio were trying to contact me because it had been announced that finally the Osmonds were coming to Newcastle!!  It seemed ironic that I was the last to know but that didn’t matter to me! I remember phoning home to tell my Mum we were on our way back from our honeymoon and when she told me that my dream was finally coming true, I squealed out loud in the middle of a very busy Victoria coach station! Within six weeks, on Monday 14th April 1980 to be exact, the Osmonds did come to Newcastle, performing twice at the City Hall with two sell out concerts.

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A local press photo with Donny at Newcastle and Donny and Wayne being interviewed at Metro Radio – 14th April 1980

Donny and Wayne at Metro Radio

 

I was able to spend much of the day with the family which was such a privilege. I went to Metro Radio where Donny and Wayne were interviewed, and enjoyed lots of opportunities to talk to each member of the Osmond family. I remember being interviewed by local radio, several local newspapers and BBC Look North news and I finally understood what it felt like to have my dream come true. It was a lesson in life that I have had an opportunity to teach many young people.  If you want something badly enough, and you’re prepared to work extremely hard and not give up when things get tough, then you can accomplish anything at all. Aim big, aim high!

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My Osmond times went quiet for a while for a few years. I was newly married, we started a family and lived in Teesside in our new home. I was a very busy mum and was particularly active in our Church (I am a member of the Mormon church).  I was aware that the the Osmonds were busy doing things other than touring, but without the likes of Facebook, I somewhat lost touch of what was happening.

However, as the years have passed I have seen the Osmonds perform many times, and

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With Donny and the lovely Paddy MacDee at BBC Radio Newcastle

several times in Newcastle. One particular time that was very special to me was when Donny was here for a solo tour. Paddy MacDee, who now worked for Radio Newcastle, invited me to come along to the studios whilst he did a one hour live interview with Donny. He was so kind to me as I shared different memories of the Osmonds for Newcastle campaign. Donny joked with me about how I knew the answers to Paddy’s questions better than he did!  I was able to spend a quiet 5 minutes alone with him as he waited to go into the connecting TV studios for another interview, and I couldn’t help wonder what the 15 year old me would have thought about that!

 

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Over the years I have had lots of opportunities to see and talk with the Osmond family.  Some of them know me as ‘The Cake Lady’ because I often treat them to a box of home made cupcakes. This is a picture of Justin, Merrill’s son, as I gave him some special Hearing Fund cupcake samples, which I made for the Hearing Fund Gala that year.

 

 

 

Time moves on, and we often see Merrill, Jay and Jimmy visit for various performances in the UK. They still love coming here, and I particularly enjoy their Church Firesides when they share how their faith in God has blessed them throughout their lives.  There is something still very special to me about how much joy they have brought to people throughout the world, particularly through their music, and how they have touched the lives of many by their example. I have particularly come to love and respect Justin as he works tirelessly to help children who are deaf. He is such an inspiration to many.

I now feel a need to give something back to this lovely family who have meant so much to me over the years.  A couple of years ago I became aware that Justin had set up The Hearing Fund UK and I really wanted to help in some way, especially as it would help deaf children gain confidence in the hearing world by discovering their musical talents. By reading my pages ‘My sponsored 250 mile swim’ and ‘The Hearing Fund UK’, I hope you will be able to understand why this is so important to me.