I’ve seen home­less kids sleep­ing un­der stair­cases

The fam­i­lies we’re help­ing want to help them­selves. That’s what’s so mov­ing

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS -

She may be a Chil­dren in Need vet­eran, but the emo­tional tales still hit Jackie Bird hard.

“The most poignant mo­ments are al­ways of the char­i­ties, the chil­dren and the fam­i­lies,” says Jackie, who reck­ons she’s been in­volved for at least the past 17 years.

“I’ve wob­bled so of­ten when I see the films that are made. I ac­tu­ally need to watch them in ad­vance.

“You sim­ply can’t see one when you are un­pre­pared for it. So I watch them in ad­vance, do what­ever I need to do, and then I’m ready to in­tro­duce them on the night.”

Jackie has been touched by many of those she has met through the years, in­clud­ing young­sters who have needed respite care and have then gone on to be­come car­ers them­selves.

And fam­i­lies of chil­dren with Strictly pro­fes­sional dancer Luba Mush­tuk knows all about the plight of some young­sters from her child­hood in Rus­sia.

“This is such an im­por­tant cause and I’m so happy it’s such a big thing in the UK,” said Luba, who is taking part in Fri­day’s big Chil­dren In Need Strictly Spe­cial.

“I was born in St Peters­burg where there’s a huge prob­lem with home­less chil­dren. I grew up in a big build­ing and there were chil­dren sleep­ing un­der the stair­case.

“I would try to give them food, sand­wiches or what­ever, and when I was 10 years old, I re­mem­ber telling my aunt that I wanted to be able to help when I grew up.”

The spe­cial sees Boy­zone take to the Strictly dance floor along­side pro part­ners.

Luba is teamed with Shane Lynch and she says that de­spite hav­ing lim­ited train­ing time, he had plenty of po­ten­tial.

“We had about three days to­gether to do a quick­step and then a bit more time al­to­gether for life-lim­it­ing ill­nesses. They are so sto­ical and even funny.

“And they are of­ten rais­ing money them­selves, they don’t just sit and take and feel sorry for them­selves,” she ex­plained.

“That’s what moves you and is why do­ing Chil­dren In Need is such an an­ti­dote to be­ing in­volved in news which is so of­ten about man’s in­hu­man­ity to man.”

Jackie will get a first-hand look at where the money goes to­mor­row on a visit to a rid­ing school for chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

There is al­ways plenty of en­ter­tain­ment on hand dur­ing Chil­dren In Need, with Jackie par­tic­u­larly re­call­ing one mu­si­cal high­light.

“Dougray Scott and my­self were on stage do­ing back­ing vo­cals for The Pro­claimers, how’s that for some­thing to brag about?” the group num­ber. I could see straight away that he is a nat­u­ral dancer.

“We had so much fun and I used to do rou­tines to Boy­zone songs back in Rus­sia, so it was a thrill.”

Luba joined the Strictly dance pros this se­ries but while she has taken part in the group num­bers, she wasn’t paired with a celebrity star.

“Shane is my first celebrity and I was so ex­cited to get a chance to fi­nally walk down the stair­case in the stu­dio.”

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